Appointing a UK guardian remains an unfamiliar concept to many overseas parents sending their child to the UK for the first time and so, naturally, this can cause a lot of confusion.
A guardian can be either a responsible adult living in the UK that is known to a student's family or a professional guardianship organisation. Although they can act in loco parentis in emergency situations, they are not the child's legal guardian but a representative of the parents.
The majority of UK boarding schools now insist that all overseas students have a UK guardian.
Guardians play a key role in supporting international students and their parents throughout the academic year. Although parents choose a UK education with the hope of helping their child to succeed, being separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles can be a dauting prospect. What happens if the child becomes ill or is suspended from school? A UK based guardian, living or operating close to a school can step in to support the student and help to keep the parents in the loop.
Guardians can provide assistance with airport transfers for arrivals and departures, homestay accommodation or residential programmes during the school holidays, liaise with a school on the parents' behalf and offer day to day assistance.
In recent years, the need for guardians to understand mental health has become necessary and parents choosing a guardian should ask if their guardianship company has staff who have had mental health training.
As part of being a UK Tier 4 visa sponsor (soon to be replaced but the Child Student visa,) schools are responsible for their international students at all times, both during term time and also during the school holidays, if they remain in the UK. Although most schools close their boarding houses during the school holidays, they still need to report the the UKVI on a student movements. Schools rely on guardians to make holiday arrangements and to provide information on where a student will be staying for all students and not just those on Child Student visas.
Guardians have also played an important role during the Coronavirus pandemic, providing quarantine facilities before students arrive at school and organising residential holiday programmes in addition to host family stay for students that are not returning home in the school holidays. Bright World has also assisted partner schools by following advice from The Department for Education and helping to isolate non-symptomatic or Covid positive students .
Guardianship remains an unregulated industry in the UK. Any individual can set themselves up as a guardian and start looking after students. In an effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their international students, many schools are now recommending that parents look for a guardian that has been accredited by AEGIS (the Association for the education and Guardianship of International Students).
AEGIS has a robust inspection framework, which ensures that accredited organisations meet strict safeguarding criteria, including fully inspected host families, criminal record checks on staff and a safeguarding policy and mission statement. This provides peace of mind for both parents and schools. Bright World achieved Gold standard accreditation in 2020.
Bright World has been accredited by AEGIS since 2006, who re-inspect Guardianship Organisations every four years. In our 2017 re-inspection, carried out by impartial ISI trained inspectors, we achieved outstanding results.
Safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do at Bright World and is something that our Directors, Lana & James Foster are particularly passionate about. All of our head office staff, local Bright World Buddies, host families and representative drivers are fully screened according to Safer Recruitment guidance.
All of our staff have received safeguarding training which is updated annually. We have appointed Mental Health Champions at Head Office and within the Local Coordinator and Host Family networks to offer additional support to our students.
We are available 24 hours a day to assist in an emergency.