There is no law that dictates a student has to have a guardian. There is no rule book. The guardianship industry has grown organically and companies like Bright World lead the way in deciding what we do, how and when.
There is no contract between schools and guardianship companies, as no money changes hands, so reaching each other’s expectations can sometimes be challenging, but on balance those schools we work with are very grateful for our support and help - we really can make a difference.
Unlike every other sector who deal with looking after children, the Guardianship sector is not regulated. This means schools are relying on us to do the right thing and screen our staff and host families properly.
Efficiency and being there when they are not
Schools rely on us to arrange airport transfers that happen smoothly, as usually they are not open when this is all going on. Many parents can’t find flights that match exactly with school start times, so often our next job is to place the student with a host family before school starts or after it finishes.
Independent pastoral support
We then visit them to make sure they are settled and so the year begins. Schools like us to be visible, offer support when required, attend Parents’s evenings and efficiently organise exeat and half term arrangements, as well as being available for all sorts of unexpected events that occur throughout the year.
If a school has to close, if a flight is cancelled, if a student is unwell and has to leave suddenly - the schools needs us to step in.
The results of our survey are interesting and prove that the complexities of guardianship are not understood by all schools. Guardianship remains a very grey area and I feel compelled to shed some light and colour on the subject.
Do you insist that all overseas students, whose parents live overseas, have a guardian?
80% yes, 3% only if under 18, 10% no, and 7% only if outside the EU.
Lana’s view: It should be 100% yes. Not having a guardian leaves children vulnerable and at risk. Schools doing their own guardianship is not good practise- in or out of the EU, overseas means hours away. Schools who don’t need guardians for students from the EU are doing so as no visa is required. This totally undermines the need to safeguard ALL children regardless of their nationality and is, in my view totally wrong.
Do you insist on AEGIS Accredited Guardians?
18% yes, a disappointing 72% said no, and 10% were unsure.
Lana’s view: This is ridiculous. The schools who are saying no are basically saying that they are very keen to put safeguarding at the top of their school agenda but not willing or interested in following on that duty of care whilst students are temporarily not in school for short holidays. By agreeing to non-accredited guardians taking care of students they are taking a big risk.
Do you expect guardians to arrange airport and UK transport for students?
62.5% said not necessarily, only 12.5% said yes, and 25% have their own travel department.
Do you close for exeat weekends and expect students to go to their guardian or host family?
32.5% said yes, 55% no, and 12.5% optional.
Do you insist that guardians are available 24/7?
72.5% yes, 27.5% no.
Do you insist that guardians live within a certain proximity to the school?
83% don’t specify, 10% under one hour, and 7% under 2 hours.
Do you insist that guardians are always in the country and available to assist?
77% yes, 23% no.
Do you expect a guardian to be available at short notice to attend pastoral or behavioural meetings?
84% yes, 16% no.
Lana’s view: The results show a complete lack of understanding of what we do. These are only the opinions of 40 schools, thankfully. Perhaps the other 360 schools we work with would say differently. I do hope so as this laid-back attitude to guardianship really needs to stop.
All the things we do often go unoticed by schools as they happen when they are closed. We fill in gaps in the academic year. Some gaps are expected and we can plan ahead such as an early arrival, host family for exeat weekends and half terms. Other gaps are surprises and again we step in and make the situation a seamless one - students are suspended, need to leave as they are unwell, have cancelled flights - we are always there and take over so the schools can go ahead and close and have their holiday.
If a school closes for half term and has two exeat weekends each term, it means one student has up to 16 events each year which we have to arrange. I can often be heard laughing out loud if anyone asks me ‘what do you actually do?’ - have you got an hour or so to let me got through it?
Lana Foster, Bright World Founder and Managing Director
Posted on April 11st, 2018 @ 4:42 PM