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How host families help students have a Happy Christmas!
The team at Oxford Guardians including host families have an important role to play to make sure students have a wonderful Christmas. The festive season is full of cultural and religious significance in a British boarding school. Christmas trees are decked with tinsel and baubles, garlands adorn staircases and students sing carols and enjoy Christmas meals.
After a busy first term of the academic year, international students are ready for a break! The end of the Autumn Term in British boarding schools (also known as Michaelmas Term or Christmas Term) will see the majority of students returning to their family homes – but whether they stay in the UK or are travelling, Oxford Guardians are here to make everything run smoothly.
Planning your journey home
Most students in the care of Oxford Guardians travel abroad for the Christmas holidays. At such a busy time of year, it is important for us to plan ahead so that we can ensure that our students who are travelling will arrive safely and in good time.
Schools close for the holidays on a wide range of dates, though the end of term arrives for most by mid-December. As soon as the October Half Term is over, our guardianship Head Office will start to ask the international students’ families what their plans are for the holidays, so that the logistics can be arranged.
Once we know the parents’ intentions, and have ensured that flight plans match the school timetable, Oxford Guardians sends out a full itinerary to both the school and parents. This will include:
• Flight details
• Transfer arrangements between school/homestay and airport
• Driver pick-up details
• Plans for the student to be accompanied to the flight departure gate, if required.
Trusted drivers transport and accompany international students
Oxford Guardians has a network of trusted and experienced drivers able to collect students and ensure they arrive safely at their destination station or airport. We need to make transport plans in good time, both to secure driver services at this busy time, and so that we can book drivers already known to the students, where possible.
If siblings or friends are under our education guardianship, we can arrange for them to be collected together, or from different schools, so that they can share the rest of their holiday journey.
Host families help with Christmas holidays
Whilst the majority of our guardianship students will travel home for the holiday, some will stay in the UK. If they already have a long or short homestay host family, we will ask whether they can stay for the holiday, although this is entirely a decision for the host family. We have a community of pre-approved host families across the UK, so will usually find a willing homestay family keen to share their Christmas with an international student.
Education Guardians at Christmas
The formal role of Oxford Guardians at the end of the Christmas Term is the same as for any other term: we ensure that our guardians have made the last of their planned guardianship visits (3 during this term for Basic Guardianship; 5 for Main, and 7 for Premium Guardianship packages) and written their report, which we send to parents. As well as academic progress, this report will also include pastoral aspects of this first term such as how well a student has settled, friendships and interesting things they may have done or achieved.
Education guardians may also be involved, if invited to do so, in sharing Christmas celebrations such as carol services with their international students before term ends.
Celebrating Christmas with host families
Some of our homestay hosts also go the extra mile for their international students, even if they are returning home for the holidays. For example, Jella Bolton-Smith currently hosts three students, and has arranged to celebrate a late Christmas with them once they are back with her:
“I love to share the joy of Christmas with young people, even if they do not normally celebrate Christmas. It is such a warm and welcoming time of year, and I find they really appreciate the chance to enjoy our British Christmas traditions. I have even bought stockings for them all!”Jella Bolton-Smith
Starting the New Year in British Education
Of course, after the fun and travel of Christmas time, the new academic terms start along with the New Year. Oxford Guardians will have liaised between school and parents about the return trips at the same time as planning outbound, so all these details will be covered in the original itinerary.
Winter days can be cold in the UK, and travel is sometimes disrupted as a result. Luckily, Oxford Guardians are here to help, with emergency procedures in place to provide urgent taxi services to rescue travellers stranded in either direction, and host families near schools and airports able to take in international students whose holiday travel plans fall victim to the weather, strikes or infection.
Merry Christmas from Oxford Guardians!
We hope that this Christmas holiday will be a wonderful time for international students in the UK to relax with their host families, with their own families visiting from abroad, or in their own homes. We wish all our international students, their families and friends, and all our host families and educational guardians a very Happy Christmas!
For more information on using our guardianship services or becoming a host family and joining our team please contact us on email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01604 859 331.