The Importance of Good Guardianship
When an overseas pupil applies to an Independent School in the UK it is normal that the Admissions department with ask them to nominate a Guardian who resides in the UK and is over 25 which is not only good practice but of high importance. Some overseas families may use a relative or family friend living in the UK, however it is usual and recommended for the parents to engage the services of a UK based Guardianship Company.
There are many companies who offer Guardianship in the UK and it is therefore important to ensure that the services of a reputable and good guardianship company are secured. A recommendation would be to ensure that the Guardian is a member of the regulating and inspecting body for Guardianship, AEGIS (The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students).
AEGIS requires the 31 members to undergo a rigorous and extensive inspection and accreditation process by impartial, objective, and highly experienced inspectors, to demonstrate that the guardianship organisation is legally compliant and offers best practice in all areas of guardianship.
Broadly speaking good communication between the school, the child, the parent and the guardian is of the utmost importance and good guardianship companies will ensure that this is of a high priority. Furthermore, a vital service is the Host Family who will offer the overseas student a very warm welcome and a ‘home away from home’ during the exeat (leave out) weekends, half term and, for some students, holidays too. A good guardianship company will have ensured that all relevant DBS checks and referencing have been undertaken to ensure the family is suitable. The host family should also have been personally visited to discuss the high expectations required by the guardianship company, together with the requirements of AEGIS members that no more than 3 pupils should be cared for at any one time by a host family. By visiting the host family the guardian will also be in a good position to ‘match’ the student to the family, in the knowledge that both parties will be compatible to one another, thus ensuring a happy and enjoyable break from school for the student.
Safeguarding is of vital importance to good guardianship. Ensuring safe and efficient travel to and from all UK airports, having confirmed all the arrangements with the school, the parent and the pupil so that everyone is aware of the pupils movements, is of great importance. There should be an emergency phone number that is manned 24/7, thus providing cover at any time for an emergency that may arise and able to provide practical help and support as necessary.
It is important that a representative of the guardianship company should be available to the pupil and therefore be close to the school. If any problems or concerns arise the guardian can be informed and on hand quickly to assist as needed. Good guardianship companies try to ensure that the student (and their family if present) are met when they first arrive at their new school and where possible, introduced to their host family. The guardian can help the pupil open a bank account, buy school uniform, acquire a mobile phone and any sports equipment required etc.
Pupils should be regularly visited by their guardian whilst at school to find out how they are getting on, both in terms of academics and pastorally and to provide a listening and supportive ear. A guardian should be genuinely interested in the wellbeing, development, progress and care of their student and communicate with the school in this respect. The guardian will then report back to the parent as to the progress and contentment of the student, together with any concerns or worries that need addressing. A guardian should, if required, be available to attend parent meetings on behalf of the parent and then provide to them a full feedback report.
In conclusion, good guardianship is about the guardian having the student’s best interest at the forefront at all times, ensuring that the student is safe, happy and able to fulfil their aspirations whilst in the UK, both academically and pastorally.
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