Choosing a guardian for international students in the UK: what parents need to know
The vast majority of UK schools will require their international students – ie their students who normally live outside the UK - to have a UK-based educational guardian, and from a parents’ perspective, it makes really good sense to have one in place too. Educational guardians fulfil the role of parents when the parents are not within easy travel distance; when a student is sick, for instance, or something goes wrong at school, and the student therefore has to take some time away from school, the guardian provides a home for them and should ensure that they are well looked-after.
Educational guardians look after students in the holidays when the students are not able to go home; many guardians will go to parents’ meetings at school in place of the parents, will keep in contact with parents, and provide a vital additional link in the parent-school-student triangle that helps support students throughout their time at school in the UK.
As a parent, therefore, you want to find a really good educational guardian. The question is: how do you go about it?
It is often tempting for parent to appoint a family member to be their child’s guardian, and sometimes this can be a practical option. Family members, however, do not always have the time or the lifestyle to be able to absorb the care of a young person into their lives, and it can also often be difficult for parents to require their relatives to do things the way they want them done, especially if their relatives feel that they are doing them a favour by acting as a guardian.
Moreover, family members are not always up to date on how best to look after children. The UK is renowned worldwide as being a leader in the field of safeguarding, and this means that there exist numerous legal frameworks to protect young people at home, at school and when they are staying with other people. Unless the family member is an immediate relative, the relationship will be subject to UK legislation on private fostering, so parents should take legal advice on this.
The answer, more often than not, lies in choosing an educational guardian through an educational guardianship organisation. When choosing a guardianship organisation, parents need to ensure that it is fully regulated, and currently the only way to check this is on the website of AEGIS, the Association for the Educational Guardianship of International Students (www.aegisuk.net). Here, parents will find details of guardianship organisations which meet UK government safeguarding guidelines and which are rigorously inspected. A child’s welfare is too precious to be left to chance, and regular inspection ensures that the safety and wellbeing of international students is the top priority for the guardians.
Parents will want to build a relationship with their child’s guardian, and should not be afraid to contact a number of accredited guardians in order to find the one with which they feel most comfortable – perhaps because they already look after students in their child’s new school, or because they offer exactly the services they require, or because the parents have received a recommendation that they trust.
Guardianship is worth investing in; after all, parents are investing in school fees, and they will want to protect that investment by making sure that for the rest of the time their child spends in the UK, they are happy, safe and well-looked after.
Dr Helen Wright is an Advisor to William Clarence Education and is Chair of AEGIS, the UK’s Association for the Educational Guardianship of International Students
William Clarence Education offers unbiased advice on UK School and University Placement, Oxbridge Admissions, US College Applications, UCAS application and extensive support for parents and students in all aspects of preparing for entry to the UK. Please contact us on 02074128988 to discuss your particular needs, or email firstname.lastname@example.org