For many parents, the first time they will encounter the term educational guardianship, will be when they confirm their child's place at a UK boarding school. As part of the acceptance paperwork, they will usually be asked for the name and contact information of the UK based school guardian that will be responsible for their child. Each school will have slightly different expectations and requirements set out in a guardianship policy.
The use of the word guardian can initially be confusing for parents. When a school uses the term guardian, they are talking about an education guardian not a legal guardian. In other words, a UK based representative for the parents, who is able to act in an emergency and provide general support and a local point of contact throughout the academic year.
While the terms guardian and legal guardian look similar, the roles and responsibilities each take on could not be more different. In order to clarify these roles and responsibilities, we have created this article, to provide parents with more information.
An educational or education guardian, can be an adult individual or a company in the UK that is appointed by a parent, to act on their behalf and as their representative while their child studies here.
Some parents may have a relative or family friend living in the UK who is able to take on the role of guardian to their child. While this can often work very well, an individual is not always fully prepared for the responsibilities and commitment that this entails. Many schools also set a limit on how far from the school a guardian can live and also require that any guardian is at least 25 years old.
In the absence of a suitable relative or family friend, parents will be advised to appoint an education guardian, which is usually a company that offers guardianship services. They are also often referred to as guardianships agencies or guardianship organisations.
Once appointed, the guardian or guardianship organisation is responsible for an overseas student when they are in the UK and the school is closed. This will normally involve the arrangement of accommodation or transport to and from the airport during school holidays. Guardians also step in if there is an emergency, in the case of illness of suspension. At these times, the guardian must be on hand to assist the school, parents and child to ensure the child's safety and that they are well cared for.
A guardian should be independent from the school and should always act in the best interest of the child.
There is currently no UK law that relates to the guardianship of international students at UK boarding schools. However, in order to satisfy UKVI (The UK Visa & Immigration) regulations and meet safeguarding standards, the majority of UK boarding schools and colleges insist upon it. UK Universities also ask that a UK-based guardian is appointed if a student is under the age of 18 when they start their course.
The new Minimum Standards for Boarding were published in September 2022 and for the very first time educational guardianship has its own standard – Standard 22. Moreover, AEGIS is referenced within the standard as a recognised organisation for schools to consult and refer to when looking at good practice.
Because of the current lack of legislation around guardianship, parents are faced with a difficult task. How do they ensure that their child's guardian is reputable and takes the safety and welfare of their child seriously?
AEGIS is the Association for The Education & Guardianship of International Students and is currently the only impartial accreditation and regulation body for guardianship organisations. Their framework can offer peace of mind to parents that the company they are choosing has the stamp of approval from an ISI-trained inspector and that they adhere to strict safeguarding standards and codes of conduct.
Bright World is really proud to have achieved GOLD Standard Accreditation from AEGIS, having been through a thorough and independent inspection. Gold standard accreditation is the highest possible standard achievable in guardianship in the UK.
A legal guardian is something very different to an education guardian. You will often see visa, school acceptance and medical forms asking for the signature of the Parent/Legal Guardian. This is because a legal guardian has the authority and duty to care for a child in the event that their parents are unable to do so.
Family law says that the guardian for a child will be able to make major decisions relating to the child's medical care and that, just like a biological parent, they will take over the day to day care of a child, until the child reaches adulthood at 18. A special guardianship order is required for someone to begin the process of becoming a legal guardian and taking on custody of a child.
The term, loco parentis simply means in the place of a parent.
We do not replace a student's parents, but offer an extra layer of care in their absence. Our contract is directly with the parents and no court of law is involved at all. This contract entitles us to represent the parent and act in the best interests of the student, as we see fit, if we are unable to seek parental advice or direction due to time and distance.
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.