Monday, 21 July 2014

10 reasons to #volunteer to be guardian to an international pupil at #boarding #school

  1. An opportunity for your own children to make new friends and to learn about other countries and cultural understanding, in preparation for working in a Global world.
  2. To encourage your own child to share and to consider the needs of others.
  3. To fill the ‘empty nest’ and stay young when your own children have perhaps gone off to university or left home.
  4. To become involved in the school life of a young person, supporting them through attendance at school matches, concerts, parents’ evenings.
  5. To get to know a particular boarding school, as you may be considering in future for your own children.
  6. To provide reassurance and build lasting friendships with international families overseas.
  7. To feel a sense of pride and a warm glow, knowing you are making a real difference to the life of a young person, when their own parents are so far away.
  8. To enjoy the company of a young person and have an excuse to go to all the children’s films at the cinema, Legoland or Harry Potter World.
  9. To put your spare bedroom to good use.
  10. To learn how to make sushi like the Japanese.

What is a Guardian Family?

Children studying at UK boarding schools whose parents live overseas require a UK-based guardian family, who live close to the school, to offer them accommodation at their exeat weekends and half term holidays, as well as act as their ‘English family’ to be there in case of emergency, monitor their academic study, be the friendly face at the airport that welcomes them back to the UK at the start of each term and ensure they are well-settled and happy.

Guardian families come in all shapes and sizes from large families, couples without children or children who have flown the nest, retired couples to single mums. All have a common interest in offering care and support to children and teenagers from overseas. All you need is a little time and a spare room in your home

What does the role of Guardian Family entail?

The child will be living in a boarding house at school during the term-time and will return home to their parents during the long holidays at Christmas, Easter and over the summer holiday. The guardian family will be required to do the following:

Provide a bedroom within your caring home for the child at exeat weekends and half terms. Schools usually have one exeat weekend each side of half term, so during each term, this usually amounts to two weekends and a week during half term. Sometimes an overnight stay is required at the start or end of term, where flight times do not fit with school term dates.

Acting as the key contact with the Houseparents and tutor, to make sure the child is making good progress at school, discuss and resolve any issues and to confirm arrangements when exeat weekends and half terms are approaching.

Being there quickly if an emergency situation arises such as accident, illness, suspension or an incident which requires the school to close temporarily.

Attending school parents’ evenings and reporting back to the parents or The Guardian Family Network staff team on progress.

Attending school concerts and sports matches to offer support to the child as and when appropriate. (How much you do this is left to the guardian’s discretion and it depends on the individual talents and extra-curricular involvement of the child.)

Communicating successes and concerns to or The Guardian Family Network staff team or the child’s parents back home.


Communication and being well-organised is a vital element of acting as a guardian family. The experienced staff team at the Guardian Family Network will be on hand to offer you support and guidance should you have any worries or concerns while the child is in your care. We can also assist you if there are any teething problems while the child is settling in, or further down the line if things are not as you expected.

You will also be in regular communication with the Houseparents and tutor at the boarding school, The Guardian Family Network staff team and the child’s parents or their representative, if the parents do not speak English.

An ability to respond promptly to telephone calls and email is vital and having access to Skype is a useful way for the child to keep in touch with home.

If you are interested in finding out more please call us on 01865 522066 or for details of where in the UK we are looking for guardian families at present, please visit our website

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Choosing the right #school when your child has leaning difficulties #parents #edchat

I have had conversations with five families this week regarding choosing the right senior school for children with various learning difficulties from dyslexia to dyspraxia to Asperger’s. They all start their research via school gate tips from helpful friends who are keen to share their views, often fashioned by the parent grapevine and personal experience. However, when your child has learning difficulties, it’s important to consider schools which will best support their individual needs, rather than just short-listing via league tables or brand names.

It’s so important your chosen school has the resources to challenge and stretch your child’s capabilities and interests, as well as offer relevant, experienced support where needed. Consider updating your child’s educational psychologist report. This helps schools to review their needs as part of the application process, as well as giving valuable guidance on how to best support their learning.

When visiting potential schools, be honest. Withholding information regarding difficulties may lead to problems later. Don’t be too concerned if there are other children with similar learning difficulties. Your child will gain in confidence through feeling they are not the only one finding things tricky, rather than perhaps feeling like the odd one out.

Do you warm to the SENCO? This person will become one of your key contacts regarding progress. It’s important you find them approachable, knowledgeable and understanding. 

Ask how often your child’s individual education plan will be reviewed and if necessary amended?

Is learning support delivered one-to-one, in small groups or within the classroom? What training do teachers have in supporting children with learning needs within the classroom? Is technology used to support those with difficulties?

Does the school use streaming or setting for classes or are they mixed ability? If your child excels in maths but has difficulties with English, it’s important they will be both challenged and offered additional support, where appropriate.

If your child has difficulty with organisation skills, what systems are in place to assist them to manage their belongings? How much movement is there between classrooms and how easy is it to navigate the school campus?

Will I have opportunities to meet other parents? A supportive parent community with whom you can discuss your worries regarding your child with like-minded parents can be of great value in assisting you to understand your child’s needs better and to have access to support and a listening ear when things appear difficult.

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