Finding the Perfect guardian
Most of the best boarding schools in the UK will not admit an international student below the age of 18 unless they have a local guardian. This may seem bothersome, especially for older students, but many UK boarding schools have had their fair share of grim experiences (such as students left unclaimed during holidays) that they have resorted to making it mandatory.
Role of Guardians
Guardians have several roles;
- Provide a place for your child to stay during school holidays (which are normally many in the UK) and half-term breaks when all students have to go home.
- May provide transportation to and from school or from airports etc.
- Can support your child financially by giving them pocket money, paying for school trips or excursions etc.
- Can serve as your representative when it comes to making certain decisions for your child, signing forms, attending parents’ meetings and being there in case of an emergency – for instance, if your child becomes sick or is suspended or expelled from school.
How do you find a guardian?
To find a guardian for your child, you can start by asking friends in your country who have used a guardian before. If your friend recommends a guardianship firm that worked for them, there is a good chance that the firm will work for you too.
If you don’t have any friends who have used a guardian before, you can inquire from the school your child will be attending. Most UK boarding schools will opt not to recommend a guardianship firm as they would not want to be held responsible if you end up with an incompetent guardian. However, they are sure to point you in the right direction if you ask for some of the names of guardianship firms that have provided their students with guardians in the past.
A common alternative to using professional guardianship firms is to call on British relatives or close friends in the UK. Some of the advantages of using relatives or friends as your child’s guardian are that it is cost-effective and the guardian is likely to have a genuine interest in the well-being of your child.
On the downside, relatives or close friends may be very busy individuals who may find guardianship too demanding. Working out financial arrangements with relatives and friends may also be tricky. Besides, some UK boarding schools will not accept relatives or close friends as guardians if they reside far from the school.
Some parents may decide do away with formal guardians all together and opt to house their child with the local exile community in exchange for some light work. Other parents (of older students) may request if they can pay for their child to stay in a guest house during school holidays instead of having to deal with the expense of guardians. While the ingenuity of these parents in admirable, they may be unknowingly subjecting their children to untold dangers as anything can go wrong when children are not supervised by adults. Schools sometimes find themselves calling up guardianship firms asking for help with student whose guardians have fallen short.
Guardianship does not mean that you should completely leave your child’s affairs to the guardian. A guardian is there only to assist you where possible, so you should try as much as possible to keep in touch with your child and the guardian. Ideally, you can even make visits over the holiday to meet up with your child and the guardian. If this is impossible, you can always stay in touch by through Skype and phone calls.