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What is guardianship for international children at boarding school and why do I need it?

British boarding schools have a worldwide reputation for excellence. Not only in terms of academic achievement, but also through offering breadth of extra-curricular opportunities, nurturing independence, developing leadership skills as well as cultural and social awareness.

Having chosen to invest in this wonderful opportunity for your child you will, I am certain, want to ensure they make the most of it. You will wish to be in no doubt that they are working hard, making good progress in their studies, making the right academic choices to lead to a successful future career, optimising their involvement in extra-curricular activities to broaden their horizons, making friends, remaining safe, well cared for and happy. As international education consultants, we assist parents with choosing the right boarding school so their child will be happy and achieve their full potential.

It is often quite a concern to parents how they will monitor their child’s progress and wellbeing when they live overseas. Engaging the services of a company which provides Guardianship Services means parents feel reassured that there is a trustworthy, professional organisation, coupled with an English guardian or host family close to the school, who collectively provide a support structure, which works closely with parents and the school, to ensure that your child will prosper.

What is a guardian family and why does my child need one?

All British boarding schools insist that any pupil whose parents are resident outside the UK has a UK-based guardian, appointed by their parents, to act as the local in-country contact in case of emergency and to ensure that the child is well cared for at exeat weekends and half term holidays, if they are not planning to return home. If your child requires a visa to study at boarding school in the UK, you will also need to submit the details of your UK guardian arrangements with the visa application form.

A guardian or host family provides a much needed break from the hectic school routine at exeat weekends and half term holidays, with a welcome change of scene – a home-from-home where warm, long-lasting friendships are created. As international education consultants, we know that having a supportive and caring family who will take an interest in your child’s wellbeing will offer you reassurance that they are safe, well cared for and happy.

English guardian or host families are usually professional people who have current or past experience of independent education. In addition to having your child to stay with them at exeats and half term holidays, they will attend parents’ evenings on your behalf, watch your child play in music concerts or sports matches and keep in regular contact with both you and your child, so they can act quickly should any concern or issue arise. Your child will remain with the same guardian family throughout their time with us, meaning long-lasting, trusting relationships will grow as they progress through their time at school. Indeed many children come to see their guardian as their English’ family.


Selecting the right guardianship company will mean that you will have a point of contact to which you can turn for advice or assistance, whenever you have a concern about your child.

If you struggle with English, it should be possible to find a guardianship company who can support you through a member of staff who can communicate with you in your own language.

End of term paperwork from the school with details of school trips or other educational opportunities can sometimes be confusing. Your guardianship company will assist you in understanding what is on offer for your child, help you to decide what may be of most benefit to them and make sure that your signed permission paperwork is returned to the school on your behalf

They will work with you to appoint and reference check an appropriate English guardian or host family close to the school, who will care for your child at exeat weekends and if necessary half terms.

Should your child need new school shoes, a laptop, mobile phone top up’, hockey stick or walking boots the guardian will arrange to purchase these on your behalf.

Emergency contact

Having quality guardianship arrangements in place will ensure that there will be someone in the UK on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure any unforeseen emergencies regarding your child are resolved quickly and professionally.

Travel arrangements

Through regular communication with the guardian, the House parents, yourself and your child, there will be someone to make sure that travel arrangements are in place for exeat weekends and getting to and from the airport when travelling between home and school.

Visa renewal

Should your child need to renew their passport or visa whilst in the UK, someone will be on hand to make an appointment with the embassy or UKBA as relevant and accompany them. It is important to make sure that you have provided them with the completed application form and all of the support paperwork in advance of the appointment.

Academic support

Having quality guardianship arrangements in place will mean that you have someone on hand to:

  • Assist you in interpreting school end of term reports and communicate with the school on your behalf to resolve anything that is of mutual concern.

  • Intervene to resolve any issues or concerns you may have regarding pastoral care matters.

  • Aid you in making important subject choice decisions such as GCSE, A Level or IB

  • Assist you in making arrangements for holiday revision courses if required.

  • Advise you on suitable UK or US university courses and help with the application process through UCAS

For advice on choosing the right British Boarding School from our team of expert international education consultants, please contact us!

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