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AEGIS Report 2021

UKG underwent a re-accreditation inspection in April 2021. Below you will find the report overview written by the Lead Inspector, Sarah Williamson. We are very proud of this report and strive to continue offering the same high level of service for years to come.

UKGuardianship (UKG) has been successfully established for over 10 years and day-to-day operations are led by the very experienced Office Manager, strongly supported by an Administrative & Marketing Coordinator; they are a highly professional team. Monthly reports are presented to the Director of the organisation who has strategic oversight. Staff are fully conversant with AEGIS minimum standards and make very good use of the advice and guidance available to support and develop their operations. UKG is very successful in meeting its clearly stated aim to ensure all students have a safe and enjoyable time in the UK, while reaching their full academic potential. Their success is borne out by the very positive responses and comments from students and their parents who answered the AEGIS questionnaires. UKG continuously seeks ways to improve, and they are receptive to feedback from all stakeholders; they are most worthy of gold re-accreditation

Effective communication between all parties is key to ensuring students fulfil their potential and enjoy their time studying in the UK. This begins with detailed introductions between new families and Office Manager who speaks with parents and students together and then separately to ensure that aims and expectations on all sides are understood and can be met. Very regular contact is sustained with students in line with their level of service and is recorded and monitored so that UKG can be responsive to students’ needs. A suitable complaints policy is in place but because UKG actively seek feedback and deal with any queries as they arise, the formal complaints procedure has not been invoked. Parent questionnaire responses indicate UKG staff are very reliable, responsible, and trustworthy

New students have an induction meeting pre-arrival that enables them to ask questions and explores their understanding of the useful information contained in the age-appropriate and accessible handbook. Advice, guidance and regulations are clearly stated, and hyperlinks enable students to access other sources of information too. The handbook contains all content suggested in the AEGIS standards and more. It includes a student code of conduct that clearly sets out expectations of behaviour and suitably explains why they are in place. The handbook is regularly reviewed to take account of student feedback, any questions that arise and changing circumstances. Care is taken to ensure students settle into a new school and students comment that the handbook is helpful and describe staff as extremely friendly. 

UKG takes its responsibility for safeguarding very seriously and its procedures are laid out clearly in a detailed safeguarding policy and other related guidance, such as the reporting of low-level concerns. Links have been forged with the local safeguarding partnership (LSP) through training opportunities and regular updates, which ensures they know who to contact should the need arise. These links have also served to develop the LSP’s understanding of the work of the guardianship organisation. The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and Deputy are trained in inter-agency training and both have completed the government’s Prevent training courses. Hosts are required to undertake certificated training every three years in addition to the very regular updates they receive via newsletter. Top tips for safeguarding and topical issues such as online safety are covered, as well as reminders of good practice; this ensures a firm understanding that safeguarding is ‘everyone’s responsibility’. Safer recruitment checks are appropriately carried out on all staff, hosts and family members in advance of employment or a placement. References are always verified and the interview process, which probes a candidate’s motivation for and experience of working with children, is recorded in detail. 

Transfer and travel arrangements are co-ordinated and organised using appropriately vetted drivers from local licensed taxi firms or in liaison with schools or host families. UKG always remain in charge of these arrangements and are the first point of contact for all students. Travel confirmation documents are issued to all relevant parties and schools responded that communication from UKG is very good

Useful homestay profiles are sent to parents that include helpful pictures of the family and accommodation and a description of the host’s background and interests, and information about the location. Great care is taken to match students with a suitable host family and students comment that they know their homestays well. Information about students is securely stored in line with data protection principles and appropriately shared with hosts to ensure they are aware of a student’s individual needs and are able to support them during their stay. Administration, including the management of student finances, is very efficient.

Accommodation is thoroughly inspected annually by UKG and that seen by the Supporting Inspector was of a very good quality. Hosts are keen to make students welcome and to encourage them to join in with family life. Hosts feel very well-supported in their role by the staff at UKG and demonstrated a confident level of understanding of the organisation’s policies, procedures, and expectations. The Host Handbook is a good reference tool and contains clear direction and practical advice as well as links to additional sources of information. Hosts say they are well-informed, and that staff are very accessible and helpful. The Student Handbook contains very pragmatic information about preventing or managing any homesickness. Students are encouraged to keep busy, join in and make the most of every opportunity presented to them whilst at school and when staying with host families. UKG has now included this advice in the Host Handbook so hosts can look for signs and offer support and encouragement. 

Suitable emergency plans and procedures are in place and UKG has sufficient host families able to accommodate students at short notice if required. This has been particularly useful during the pandemic, enabling UKG to respond flexibility to emerging needs of students, their families and schools. 

UKG has built positive working relationships with schools and liaises effectively with them. Schools receive a statement of service that identifies students under their guardianship. The opportunity is also taken to introduce the Designated Safeguarding Lead so that schools are aware that safeguarding and caring for all of its students is a priority. In references and responses to the AEGIS questionnaires, schools described the staff at UKG as approachable and always professional. 

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