People often ask me the same questions when I say I am a guardian. "What's that? What do you do?"
The simple answer is that I look after international students whose parents are overseas.
What is a guardian?
A guardian, or more accurately, an educational guardian, is a UK based adult over the age of 25 appointed by parents to look after their children while they are studying in the UK. Many international students who are under the age of 18 study at boarding and day schools across the country. As their parents are far away in another country they are not able to look after their child themselves so they appoint a guardian. The UK guardian acts 'in loco parentis' or 'in the place of a parent'. The guardian is responsible for taking care of the students' welfare and educational needs while they are studying in the UK.
Why do I need a guardian if I want to study in the UK?
First of all it is really important for parents to know that while they in the UK their children will be looked after and cared for by a responsible person. Secondly, and crucially, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) ask for parents to nominate a guardian who will act on their behalf during term time and when the school is closed during holidays. Most day and boarding schools require a nominated guardian who has to live reasonably close to the school. Although this can be a friend or family member it is a big responsibility and many people feel that it is too much to ask of someone they know. This is how an organisation such as Cambridge Guardians can help.
What is a guardianship organisation?
A guardianship organisation is a specialised company who offer guardianship services to international students. The most professional of these like Cambridge Guardians are accredited by AEGIS (The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students). Some schools will only work with AEGIS accredited organisations as it shows that the organisation adheres to a high set of standards and has been inspected. Guardianship organisations range from large, with a network of local guardians and coordinators, to smaller ones who specialise in one region such as Cambridge Guardians who cover The East of England.
What kind of service does a Guardianship Organisation offer?
All guardianship organisations offer the same basic service, which is simply a contact name for someone who will help in an emergency. However parents and students often need much more help and support than that. So each organisation will have a package of services that they offer. This can include:
- Acting on behalf of parents, this can be in an emergency or day to day requests.
- Helping with travel arrangements, making sure the student has a travel plan in place to get to school and back home.
- Organising a caring and responsible host family for the student to stay with when the school is closed for holidays. Especially the short exeat weekends or half terms when it is too far to go home.
- Liaising with school and parents and the student regularly, making sure the student's welfare is looked after.
- Being a term time 24/7 point of contact in an emergency. Helping if there is a problem at the airport, or at school or if they are ill.
- Being available for students and parents if there is anything that they are worried about or need doing.
- Regularly meeting students and attending parents meetings at school.
- Supporting your child by attending a concert your child is taking part in.
- Monitoring the emails from school to check that everything is up to date and that consent form for the school trip is signed!
- Offering Educational Advice throughout the student's time in the UK.
- Arranging tutoring.
- Helping to select the right school.
Cambridge Guardians cover all these services and offer experienced educational advice as an integral part. We recognise that parents and students need support to navigate and explain the school system and we do that by being in regular contact with parents, students, housemasters, matrons, form tutors and subject teachers. We are able to explain what the school reports mean and offer advice. We act as the parents' representative in the UK and help in any way we can. A personalised bespoke service means that you can be assured that your child will be well looked after and we will answer your questions and carry out requests quickly and professionally.
So in answer to the question, "Do I need a guardian?" My answer is Yes, definitely!
If you have any questions regarding educational guardianship in the UK, please contact Cambridge Guardians. We look forward to hearing from you.