The UK lockdown roadmap promised a return for all pupils to classrooms in England on 8th March. Following months of homeschooling and online learning, schools delivered on the government's promise and reopened their doors to all students on this date for the first time in 2020.
After an extended time away from school, working online from home or in a Bright World host family, it is now time for students to return to school.
At Bright World we recognise that students may be a little nervous about the transition back to school life and they may find adjusting somewhat challenging. Our Local Coordinators (Bright World Buddies) are ready to welcome our students back in the summer term. To help and guide them and to make sure we are supporting our students as much as possible, we have created a School After Lockdown guide. We will be reading through and discussing this guide during a training session scheduled for all our staff next week in time for the start of term so we are all fully prepared.
Travel restrictions and quarantine requirements make a return to school slightly more difficult for international students at boarding schools in the UK. Many are however already in the UK and so have returned to face to face learning on 8th March, following an extended Christmas break in their boarding house or guardian/host family. For those still overseas we are delighted to report a more steady return to boarding, as our guardianship students return to the UK ahead of the summer term.
Our Head Office team is already highly trained in customer service and our Care Managers are accustomed to reassuring concerned parents in normal times at the beginning of term. Everyone is always quite anxious during arrival times even without the additional worry of Covid. Families overseas are often worried about their child leaving home for another country to join a new school and many questions and anxieties are on their mind - will they be OK on the flight and will they successfully connect if they have a connecting flight? Will their driver be there waiting on arrival? Will they like it at school? Will they like their host family for half terms?
Our Local Coordinators are arranging arrival Zoom calls with all their returning students. All Bright World Local Coordinators or Bright World Buddies are trained in Safeguarding and so we are encouraging them to ask their students how they feel about returning to school.
A written Arrival Care Plan will be shared with parents on their portal following the meeting and if there are any concerns we will share this important information with the school. Arrival Care visits have such a positive effect on issues such as homesickness and wellbeing. These check-ins are vital for safeguarding and supporting our students.
At Bright World we like to plan holiday times well in advance with parents and these arrangements are centrally managed at our Head Office. We are already all set for this coming term in terms of host families being secured for the exeats and half term.
This term we are asking our Local Representatives to talk to their students over the phone and during their Arrival Care Plan meetings about their exeats or half term to reassure them we have everything under control and to ensure that they feel comfortable with the plans we have in place.
We remain flexible and our team of drivers are here at short notice to escort students to the airport if their flight is rebooked or if they decide to travel home at short notice. We want our Bright World Buddies to remind their students that it is OK if their plans change and we are here to support them.
We are sure, and hopeful, that most students will be very pleased and excited to be back at school with their friends. Within our School after Lockdown Guide, we ask our Local Coordinators to talk to their students about positive things and about the term ahead. We will be asking them what they are particularly excited about or looking forward at school such as a competition, an event or concert they are involved in.
We recognise that it is important to help young people to develop hope and a sense of excitement for the future. If we can help them to identify with the things that they can look forward to, it will help them to realise that the current situation will not last forever and things will get back to normal.
Once the arrival visit is complete and any initial anxieties have hopefully disappeared, it is important that we keep talking to our students. Our Local Coordinators will be reminding students of their contact details and that they can get in touch with them at any time if they need a listening and independent ear.
We will continue to offer support to all our students throughout the term to ensure they feel they are supported both while at school, by their teachers and house staff but also by their guardians. We are their independent friend and mentor in the UK and are always here to help, guide and support.
Read our guide for Bright World staff here
It is back to class for our students and Bright World is armed with a new Welcome Back Guide to help them adjust. In today's episode, Lia sits down with Safeguarding Director Jenny Rumble and one of our champion Local Coordinators, Sarah Bozier, to talk about back to school nerves, excitement and the importance of keeping in touch.
At Bright World, we can provide you with a first class guardianship service. To find out more about how to choose and appoint a UK-based education guardian please contact us today.