Host Families - A guide
Why do Guardians need host families for their Students?
In the UK, with students studying in Boarding Schools, it is often not known in the beginning that the schools actually close, and all the staff, and students go home. This is for exeat weekends (known as leave out weekends), usually one a month, and then the longer school holidays known to us as half terms, Easter, and Christmas.
This is where the VITAL part of the Guardianship chain comes in. The host family!
Whereas most UK students can go back home, or to family members. The vast majority of International Students do not have this option.
What do we need?
In this circumstance, where students cannot go home, we need a home from home, to hopefully visit in each school holiday and to build a strong relationship with. Particularly where it is too long to fly back overseas due to travel time or quarantine restrictions. We are fortunate that we have already found many, lovely host families we can rely on – however we are always needing more.
Kind, caring, welcoming environment and a good place to sleep/study
Overall, we need people who care for the student, and provide them with a comfortable environment to relax and study, to get to know the student, and make them feel at home.
Be prepared for an emergency
We understand that not all plans can be kept, and also things happen. We may need to place a student in an emergency – such as:
- a flight being delayed and it being too late for the school to accept them into house.
- a student feeling unwell and needing to move from the school temporarily
- a school dormitory needing to be closed
We have a selection of emergency hosts who are available at short notice for these very situations, but we don’t expect all hosts to take on this responsibility.
When will a host family be used for my child?
In summary, they will be used in the following situations.
Typically Friday afternoon until Sunday evening – it is a perfect opportunity for the student to relax, re-group or to catch up with some prep work. As Guardian, we will know already if your child’s chosen school has exeat weekends, and will have planned this host family stay into the term.
Longer School Holidays
As mentioned in our guide on the British Education System. Schools in the UK have half terms, and then longer holidays at Easter and Christmas. These range between 8 and 16 nights. We will work with you to pick a suitable host family for these holidays.
As mentioned above – the unexpected may happen, and the student may need to stay with a host family in an emergency. We are fully prepared and contactable to make this arrangement if it is needed. This is part of the AEGIS accreditation we hold.
What are our YES Guardians Host Families like?
All of our host families vary in terms of accommodation. Some students like to share a twin room with other students, some like to have their own room. Some like their own bathroom, some don’t mind sharing.
We understand that all of our students have different requirements. We wouldn’t be a very good Guardian if we didn’t understand that – which is why we like to take on a variety of host families.
However, the things that are common across all families and our main rule is:
We have two daughters – would we be happy for our daughters to stay in this host family?
If the answer is YES – then this is what our families are like. A home away from home.
All of our hosts are generally family homes, with the host living in situ. We will never place a student on their own. They must all have a bedroom, either shared or not for the student and a desk space, or area in the home for them to study.
We encourage meal times to be shared with the student and the host, so they can talk, in English and to learn more about English culture and get to know each other.
Hosts should, if the student is able to inbetween study, offer to join in with family activities, even if it is just going for a walk, or popping into town.
However other hosts have taken students bowling, badminton, go karting, horse riding and even paddleboarding to name a few.
From feedback – even getting a student involved in the cooking of meals, or playing cards with the family further enhances the whole experience of studying in the UK. The school being closed and the necessity for a host family should be an enhancement – not a burden on the student.
All our families have as a requirement to have good wifi available for online learning – and most importantly to be able to catch up with their family.
All the homes are of a very high standard – have been inspected, and are clean, spacious and warm. The student should feel like they can relax. Heating is also required. The high standard also goes with food – with many hosts cooking with the students, or even trying out some local dishes. We also encourage hosts to provide some home comforts, with snacks from the home country of the student.
Events are a big thing too, and any birthdays, or Cultural holidays will be noted as a good Guardian – and this message will be passed onto the host family. So the student and family can celebrate whatever event it is all together!
Our host families will also tend to be near local amenities, so the student can (with permission) go explore – or for it to be arranged that the host can drop off and pick them up.
Finally – the UK is big on pets. Most houses in the UK will have a dog or a cat. We know this isn’t for everyone, so again, we have a variety of those that do, and those that do not. (and also that some people are allergic!)
Is being a host family for me?
Our host families range from young professionals, to married couples, to people who are now retired. Some have children, some do not. They are from a vast background and reach of society – but one thing is the same. They all take great care in hosting students.
If you feel that you are happy to welcome a student into your home, are able to provide full board meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and have a room to be able to accommodate the student, then yes, absolutely being a host family is for you.
From making a potential friend for life, that you can see thrive in their childhood years, to learning about new cultures – being a host family is a hugely rewarding experience.
We should know – we have been hosting students in our own home for over 10 years now!
Students really do appreciate the welcome and support host families provide too. We love reading the wonderful feedback, not only for us as a Guardian, but with feedback on the host families too.
We are very proud of our YES Family – both students and host families alike 🙂
Our YES Family
We refer to all of our students, as well as our host families as our YES family.
We are lucky to have both of these from all over the UK, who continue to thrive using our Guardianship. We don’t currently serve any schools in Ireland – but maybe one day.
Without these host families – this wouldn’t happen. We value them and can’t be thankful enough.
There is a network of hosts supporting all schools for any situation.
How do we choose and recruit host families?
Needless to say, we do not just take on all people who ask to be a host family. We understand how important it is to know that the host families that are used are trustworthy and safe. We do this in many different ways. Firstly, with the AEGIS accreditation, it means that our methods of recruiting host families have been signed off as being exemplary – plus our golden rule of would we let our own children stay there as parents?
We have an in depth check list we run through covering everything from the individuals in the home, to the home itself. Below is a summary, but by no means inclusive list of checks – we follow the strict rules of our Safer Recruitment Training, which is always kept up to date.
For the people in the home, we ask:
- The family members – with documentation in terms of enhanced DBS checks (criminal record checks) for anyone that is needed.
- We also ask about any hobbies or interests the family may have, so we can properly match students to appropriate people in terms of personalities.
- An application form which contains more in-depth information about the family.
- Conduct an interview.
For the house itself:
- House inspection – checking all areas the student will be using are appropriate.
- All relevant documents have to be seen, such as gas safety.
- All alarms are tested – carbon monoxide, fire etc.
We think we have amazing host families, and every single one has to be approved by our directors, Hayley and Marc with our daughters in mind, along with out 10 years of experience of hosting ourselves. This ensures an excellent host family for your children.
What student goes with what host?
We collect a lot of information on the personality and preferences of not only our host families – but our students too.
People are very different. Some are quiet and shy, some are outgoing. Some like to cook – and want to be able to use the kitchen, some want their food in their room as they fear for eating in front of others. Some students like to go for meals out – some the idea of eating in a public space is a phobia. Some need super fast wifi, some hate dogs. Some like football, some like basketball – we could go on.
We don’t just place students with a host and hope for the best. Every decision is carefully made.
This is true in terms of the type of experience. We are lucky we can provide activity based hosting, with day trips and sports – or quiet, study breaks. The choice really is yours.
We will never place a student without asking (unless in an emergency)
With this in mind, we will always provide a host family profile, with information about the host before placing them. Often with a choice – but due to the popularity of our hosts, they do get booked up quite quickly.
If for some reason a host doesn’t work out – although this is incredibly rare – of course we can provide more options for the next holiday.
Covid Safe Hosts
At YES Guardians, we understand that COVID is still a concern for some individuals – with that in mind, we have hosts who are signed up to the COVID Safe Charter. These are available on request.
Ask away – Questions about host families.
Hopefully the page helps explain about our host families – but some summaries are available below.
We can provide you with a list of recommended host family profiles based on the information we know about your son/daughter and the host family personalities etc.
Yes, you can choose if you would like them to have their own room, state if sharing is okay or even wanted.
Yes – if this is what you require, then we can provide a female only homestay.
Yes – we provide you with regular updates on anything that they have been getting up to.
Yes – of course! As long as you have given permission in our consent form on signing up for Guardianship, we actively encourage the hosts to send us photo’s which we can then send onto you.
In some cases the host family will pick up the student, or YES Guardians will arrange an approved, DBS checked driver to collect them and take them back.
Absolutely – our host families can cater for dietary requirements.
Yes – we generally encourage a wash basket in the students room that can be brought down to be washed. Just like any other member of the family.
Yes, we are able to provide a host without any pets.
We believe that this should happen naturally – all our students go back to the same hosts by request.
We do try and get all students to stay with us at least once during the time of their Guardianship too.
Three meals a day, generally a cold breakfast, such as cereal, toast. Then lunch of sandwiches, noodles, salads, wraps and fruit.
Dinner is always a hot meal, where we encourage a mixture of English dishes – as well as cooking a regional dish of the student for the family to try.
Snacks are also provided where again we encourage the host to provide snacks of the country of origin of the student.
Absolutely not! Our hosts will make an extra special fuss of the student, and give them a birthday to remember.
We are very fortunate to have such a diverse selection of hosts – so yes we can provide an activities based host – or a more quiet, revision and study based break.
We would ask for the reasons why, and move to another host without judgement for the next holiday.
As per safer recruitment guidelines, and for our AEGIS accreditation. We undertake DBS, criminal records checks, and get a character and professional reference from each host.
We also inspect the home, interview the host, and obtain all relevant documents to do with the home.
By visiting this page and filling out the form
We would love to welcome you to the YES Family 🙂
If you think you would like to get involved, then click the button below.
We can’t wait to hear from you.