Become a Homestay Guardian

International students studying in the UK who are under the age of 18 are usually required to have a guardian. They also need a homestay for one or two weekends per term and for their half term holiday if not returning home.

As a homestay guardian you offer a student a home from home, allowing them to enjoy the same freedom as a home student – that is, to be free to have a break from the school during exeat weekends and a place to stay during half term holidays. In this way, their experience in the UK is enhanced socially, culturally and linguistically by the opportunity to spend time with a UK family in a secure and friendly environment. The culturally enriching experience can benefit all!

Sutherland Education’s role and AEGIS accreditation

Sutherland Education as a Guardianship Organisation undertakes all the legal liabilities involved in guardianship care. It ensures compliance with all childcare legislation for students under the age of 18 and provides on-going assistance to students and their guardian homestays. Its accreditation by AEGIS (The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students) is an assurance of the very high standards upheld in all its practices.

Our ethos

Sutherland Education’s ethos has emerged from two generations of caring for international students. The input is a blend of the old and new. Andrew Sutherland’s mother’s maxim back in the 1960s was:

“I could never agree to my child travelling to the other side of the world for an education, but if others are going to send their children to the UK, then I want to be the first to look after them.” In today’s world of the most rapid changes ever known in the history of mankind and of political, social and religious fermentation, our team espouses the need to combine caring for the individual child with addressing self-awareness, encouraging high academic aspirations and teaching critical thinking and philosophy. This all adds up to addressing wellbeing and mindfulness as an essential ingredient of any successful career.

Promoting internationalism

At SE we nurture the development of young global citizens with an ability to understand and relish the richness of difference between cultures of the world. Join us in this wonderful opportunity to host a student from any part of the world whose reason for coming to the UK is to seek a good education and, (we hope and wish to encourage), a better understanding of our fast developing global village in spite of the hot spots of fermentation and conflict. These are what we have to overcome and intelligent and well educated future citizens instructed in adopting internationalism and a global perspective is one of the best solutions.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”Nelson Mandela

Provide a home from home for a young student

There are few more rewarding ways of extending a welcome to one’s home than in looking after a student from another country whose parents want to know that they are in caring hands and that there is some kind of infrastructure for safeguarding as well as welfare provision. It’s not difficult with our support available 24/7, especially if you have had children of your own!

Providing pastoral and educational support

SE helps all its member families to do this with ease. Our support is immediate and continuous. All you have to do is call if you have a query and the support and advice will be straightway available with an immediacy that will leave you breathless with astonishment and humming with satisfaction …. ☺. SE’s personnel are here to support you 24/7.

Enhancing home life with cross cultural opportunities

You may have children or you may be single … or perhaps you are an ‘inbetweener’ whose flock have fled the fold and now the pen is empty. The gate squeaks to beckon some return and it’s only the wind. The sides rattle and you’ve swept the pen clean umpteen times, for whom you’re not sure. Then fill the hole! Host an international student and enjoy the wonderful company, the challenge of being available and useful again!

But then, if you’re a busy mum and the children are quite demanding, what better opportunity could you have than to preoccupy them with the presence of an international student ….. Let them converse with a student from the other side of the world … or maybe France in which case you can pour and ponder over the hundred years war! Or Europe and immigration!

Earning some extra income

You are able to cover your costs very generously to make hosting financially rewarding. For example a student who stays for the 10 days of a half term (sometimes 14 days) will pay between £50 -£55 per night which amounts to £500-£550 for the one stay. The hidden costs such as gas and electricity you are paying for the most part anyway. Food might incur a 10% increase let’s say. And you can host two students if you have the space, and you’ve paid for a holiday for the family!….

You may also be remunerated for being a guardian which can be a very significant boost to your reward as an SE homestay. The amount will depend on the level of guardianship chosen by the student and you can be informed about this on enquiring or at the time of our visit.

Eligibility to be a homestay host

Anyone who is old enough, who cares enough, who can empathise and be responsible enough and who has the time and the facility to do so can be a homestay host.

A student’s privacy, rights, religion and customs, should be respected by all members of the household.

As a Sutherland Education Homestay Guardian you will have the full support of the Head Office staff. You will also be covered by our Professional Indemnity insurance.

We cherish long-term relationships with our guardians and families who frequently find themselves involved in and enjoying the progress their student.

Computer literacy

We encourage all our guardians to be computer literate to have a regular communication with the Head Office, parents and school we can help with this!

Supervision of a student

We give you very clear guidelines which outline what is expected dependent on the age of the student and the level of guardianship. Parents are given the opportunity to provide some guidance on their preferences as to what they allow although such guidelines have to dovetail into the homestay’s own house rules. In many cases, students are older (over 16) and fairly independent and it is a matter of keeping a parental oversight. Some students are 14 going on 21, of course! Supervision must be commensurate with the age of the student and discretional at the same time.

Times for hosting a student

One half term holiday (usually 1 – 2 weeks long, depending on the school) and two weekend exeats (Friday evening to Sunday evening) per term are the norm. International student boarders usually return home for the summer holidays, apart from when they might attend a summer school. Easter holidays are sometimes seen as an opportunity to stay in the UK to revise. Almost without exception, students return home for the Christmas holidays.

When you are unable to host

Sutherland Education will make other arrangements with another homestay if for some reason you are unable to host. Naturally, we like each student to feel comfortable and to experience the continuity of having the same homestay as much as possible.


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Guardians & Homestay providers

Student transport

Where possible it is a lovely added bonus if the homestay guardian can collect their student from school and return them at the end of the break and we encourage this. However it is not always possible and when other transport is needed then we suggest the arrangement of a school taxi or one of our own drivers.

Accommodation for a student

We always offer each student their own room (preferably with a desk and desk light) and with space enough to hang and put away some clothes. A student would be expected to share a bathroom; ‘en suite’ would be regarded as rather special. Occasionally parents ask if their child can share a room with a friend or sibling; other arrangements are therefore negotiable. Sometimes students have special requests because of say an allergy to cats or something, or maybe they wish to have a very quiet household where they can get on with their studies.

About our students

Most of our students are of secondary school age and are attending boarding schools. Notwithstanding we actually cater for 9 – 19 year olds. A very small minority need a permanent homestay whilst attending an independent day school. Students come from all parts of the world, from Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Thailand and European countries such as Germany and Spain.

Changes in arrangements

Whilst you may have arranged a stay for a weekend or half term we do have to very occasionally accommodate a last minute change. However, we are quite firm about the expense and the inconvenience to you. We do require a week’s notice of any change; otherwise parents incur some cost as compensation.

Registration and being allocated a student

We are unable to guarantee a student for you as soon as you register with us. This would be hard to do, but we have introduced a system to make all interested parties aware of your availability (whilst maintaining your anonymity naturally). In the interim, as a registered Homestay Guardian you will have all the links, combined with the communications and news emanating from Sutherland Education at your tingling key tapping finger tips! Hopefully you will find this fun and uplifting; you will have a quote for the day, for example, and will be able to liaise with your student at any time and you will have access to guardians’ news.


You will receive remuneration not only for hosting but also for being a guardian if this is what you choose to be. You will also be reimbursed for expenses which are cross charged to parents at cost. SE pays you exactly what it charges for your hosting and then also a percentage of the guardianship fee for your role as a guardian.

Guidance and support

From the time we first visit you to the time you are actively involved as a homestay guardian we are providing you with guidance and support. There is a Homestay and Guardian’s Handbook which you will find answers most of your questions too. Whilst we are actively available to address your needs and queries during weekdays 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., we are at the same time available 24/7 and are ready to deal with any urgent matters outside of these times. Your interest and our personalized support are the heart and soul of SE. If a student sneezes and you’re worried then we’re interested too!

Enquiring about being a guardian

Sutherland Education welcomes you very warmly to enquire at any time about being a guardian, however tentative or only vaguely interested you may feel. We shall do everything to persuade you that it is the next best thing after learning to tango in Argentina…. So be on your guard!


Any expenses you incur are repaid following your submission of a claim form which you can do electronically. In most cases, students will be able to make a card payment to cover their own expenses. However, inevitably, there will be occasions when you may need to pay for them and reclaim the expenditures.

Our payment method

Being as supportive as we can and appreciating that you are not a high street bank, we try to be as flexible as possible by running two systems of payment. Either we can pay by BACS (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services) which happens once a month and involves a payment straight into your account, or we can pay you by cheque at any time.

DBS checks (previously CRB checks)

It is a pre-requisite that every householder over the age of 16 must hold a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Services) certificate. If you have already subscribed to the DBS update service, we can check your certificate(s) online.

Hosting other Guardians’ students

Occasionally we may ask you if you are able to host another homestay guardian’s student if for some reason they are unable to host. Sometimes this may be at short notice but we shall understand if you are unable to oblige.

Parents evenings, school performances and sports days

Naturally we encourage any possible attendance of school activities to support your ward. However, we also understand that, although usually voluntary, this should not be at your expense. Parents can be approached about your attending a parents’ evening for example and asked if they would like you to go, being informed at the same time of the likely expense which would include the cost of travel “extra time,” (per hour).

The contract and insurance

More information will be available to you both at the time of our visit to your home and also on your registration with Sutherland Education.

By signing a contract (which is very friendly and reassuring of course – nothing to be frightened of) you are then covered by SE’s professional indemnity and public liability insurances in everything you do (apart from hitting your student over the head with a rolling pin!). . Likewise we assist students in also being properly insured themselves.

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