When it comes to schools and guardians, just like any relationship; partnership, compromise and flexibility are key. But how do both parties navigate what can be, at times a tricky relationship?
In the race to keep a child safe the baton isn’t passed once or even just twice for that matter. In order to keep an overseas child safe for the duration of their studies in the UK, guardians and schools must constantly share information and keep in close contact.
With news of recent partnership between AEGIS (The Association for Education & Guardianship for International Students) and the BSA (Boarding Schools Association) still making headlines in our industry, and with both Organisations combining their Annual Conferences at the MAGIC (Marketing Admissions Guardianship International Conference,) it seems an appropriate time to discuss the complexities of this important relationship that exists between Schools and Guardians. Before we go on and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term ‘guardian’ or ‘guardianship,’ allow us to clarify.
The majority of UK Boarding Schools, Colleges and Universities insist that overseas parents appoint a responsible adult to act on their behalf while their child studies at school. There are hundreds of UK Guardianship Organisations operating in the UK but with no current government regulation, parents are urged to choose an Aegis guardianship agency like Bright World, who has been fully screened, accredited and heavily inspected.
So what kind of information should each party share? Well most commonly, the school will want to know where their student is going to be staying during the half term holiday or exeat weekend (when boarding houses close.) They will also want to know how the child is going to arrive at the host family or airport, if they have chosen to fly home. Clear lines of communication become increasingly vital when there is a safeguarding issue or concern in the child’s wellbeing. Imagine what could happen if the guardian didn’t share unusual behaviours that took place whilst the child was stay with their host family. Maybe they mentioned a friend they had been spending lots of time with, or their plans to travel to London for the weekend.
“Schools and guardians have to work together, as it is vital we all share information. We need a good level of trust with our schools so that they can help us to action our safeguarding processes accordingly” Bright World’s Managing Director explains.
If a child had expressed feelings of unhappiness or low mood with their guardian but didn’t feel they could tell their school, then as an impartial figure a good guardian would work with the school in question to see if any changes could be made at school to improve the child’s wellbeing.
This could be as simple as; “I want to be able to go to a Chinese supermarket to cook my favourite noodles”. Perhaps the child was too worried or felt rude to ask this at school. To an international student thousands of miles away from home, their favourite food may bring some comfort and help to ease any feelings of homesickness.
A school should be able to trust the guardian to be able to help them in other worrying situations. For example, if their student was saying that they were planning to break school rules and stay in a hotel with a friend during their holiday, the school should be able to share this information with the child’s guardian, so that they can ensure the host family are well informed and briefed.
With the child at the centre of everything, competition between Schools and Guardians should not exist. Safeguarding requires a sensitive and fundamental understanding of who is leading a situation. There are processes to follow and everyone involved needs to know their place in the chain of command; sometimes it will be the guardian taking the lead but more often it is the school. Our training at Bright World helps us to understand that there really is no winner in the race to keep a child safe.
Posted on November 19th, 2018 @ 10:29 AM