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How Oxford Guardians helps international students in the UK flourish
Sending your child to school or university in the UK when you live abroad can be an emotional and practical challenge. Who will be available to sort things out if they are ill, urgently need a new cricket kit, or want someone they can talk to for help in solving a problem?
Overseas parents choosing a British education cannot provide this on-the-ground parental support for their children – so Oxford Guardians act in their place. In this blog Lexi Dyer (Guardians Manager, and both a guardian and homestay host, for Oxford Guardians) explains just what an education guardian does, and why she believes Oxford Guardians are the best choice.
Most schools and universities in the UK will ask international parents to appoint a school guardian for students under 18. The guardian acts on behalf of a parent (‘in loco parentis’) as their representative while their child studies here, providing the extra level of care that is difficult to give from a distance.
Guardianship is separate from homestay families, who welcome students into their homes for short term (such as boarding school exeats and half term breaks) or longer-term stays (for international day schools). Homestay hosts may also be appointed guardians, but the two can be separate.
Oxford Guardians has years of experience in guardianship for school and university students, offering parents complete reassurance that they are in safe, professional hands. Oxford Guardians also has Gold Standard accreditation from AEGIS, the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students, confirming that it meets the very highest standards of care for the welfare and safety of your child, with a real commitment to making studying in the UK a truly worthwhile experience.
What makes a good guardian?
Lexi believes real care and understanding is the key to being a good guardian, and is full of praise for her team at Oxford Guardians.
“They all have that vital ability to offer the softer, pastoral support,” she says. “All of our guardians give full educational support to the students in their care, but what we prize above all is that ability to know when a child is holding something back. Our guardians are brilliant at understanding what challenges students may be facing, and how to encourage them to talk about it so that we can support them.”
As a result, Lexi says that Oxford Guardians build wonderful personal relationships with the students in their care.
“Each of our education guardians has a small group of students they care for, unlike most other guardianship organisations who can have up to 30. This small number means that our guardians get to know international students and their families well, so can offer a much more personal level of support – and students in their care really thrive as a result.”
“Our guardians are brilliant at understanding what challenges students may be facing, and how to encourage them to talk about it so that we can support them.”
Much of the support provided by school and university guardians is to ensure that students make the best of their education. Guardians can be involved in a range of academic support, from difficulties with timetabling to revision support, including providing a discreet avenue for a child who is struggling with an issue in maths, for example, to raise this with the relevant teacher so that it can be solved.
Guardians are advocates for students in their care and provide a strong link to parents abroad. Lexi and her guardians attend parents’ meetings with teachers and houseparents, for example, then feed back to parents. Parents can also raise any educational issues directly with the guardian, or ask them to follow up on something which they can’t pursue themselves for practical reasons.
Regular support visits
Oxford Guardians guardianship packages offer more frequent individual visits to their students than many other providers, because this helps to build a better relationship and reaps benefits for the student, their parents and the school.
Students enjoy having a guardian who understands them, who will listen to them and be their advocate. Even in the best boarding schools, students may find they need someone to talk to outside the school community. Once Oxford Guardians become involved, they can give the student the time they need to speak about what is troubling them – or share their achievements.
Oxford Guardians are always local to the student, so that they can be at the school quickly if needed.
“In my past life as a teacher I had experience of children whose guardian relative was hundreds of miles away, and never responded to the child or the school,” says Lexi. “Oxford Guardians are very different: highly responsive to whoever may need them, and ready to jump in a car and visit if it helps.”
“I am here to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and help our guardians do the very best for the students in our care.”
Of course, this proximity also means that the child has real, live support from someone close to them: Lexi has been to sports days and school plays for her own guardian students. “It’s wonderful for them to see someone in the audience supporting them personally,” grins Lexi, “and for me its like nurturing one of the family. I love it!”
Why Oxford Guardians are perfect for international students
Lexi came to guardianship after teaching in an international school and seeing the importance of a good relationship between pupils and their guardian, school and parents. Now, leading an excellent team of guardians for Oxford Guardians, she is doing all the parts of teaching that she loves most: “Guardians are in a special position. We see these students grow in confidence and independence with our support; we pick them up when they are low and help them learn how to put coping mechanisms in place; help them understand their new education and social environment and get the best out of it; understand their plan for the future and how to get there.”
“Our guardians are amazing individuals – even when the students might be doing mad things and life is not easy, each Oxford Guardian cares deeply about every single one of their students. The ethos of our whole business is to get to know each individual student so we can encourage them to grow in confidence and relish challenge, in an atmosphere of personal support. This is what makes Oxford Guardians stand out as the ideal education guardians for international students.”
If you would like to find out more about education guardianship at Oxford Guardians, please contact us on email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01604 859 331.