World-leading safeguarding standards
A safe and supported experience in the UK for under 18s
The UK is a world leader in safeguarding young learners. When language centres are accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English they have robust safeguarding procedures to ensure the wellbeing and protecton of all children and teenagers under 18 years old. Language centres ensure that young learners are supervised by trained staff at all times during their stay in the UK: in the classroom, at their accommodation, during organised activities, and during the students’ free time.
Studying English as a young learner
In the UK young students can study English language at any level, from complete beginner to advanced. Young students study with other students who are under 18 years old. Summer schools and other vacation courses often have a specific age range eg. 12-17 years, or 8-12 years.
Sometimes 16- or 17-year-olds can study with adults if the school and parents or guardians agree this in advance. The school is still responsible for supervising these students and the students will have to follow special school rules.
It is important that students understand the rules and agree to follow them, before they arrive to the UK.
Trained school staff and 24/7 support for young learners
English language schools in the UK check all staff, group leaders, homestay hosts and activity leaders that come into contact with young learners, to ensure they are suitable to work with children. This includes criminal record checks.
All centre staff, hosts and group leaders that work with students under 18 years old receive specialised safeguarding training so that they know about UK legal requirements and their responsibilities for keeping children safe. British Council accreditation rules require every centre to have a designated safeguarding lead available 24/7 if they have any worries or problems. Students will have a 24-hour phone number for a member of school staff in case of emergency. The school will also require two contact numbers so they can contact a parent or guardian if necessary.
Safe accommodation for young learners
Young learners at summer schools often stay in residential centres, where English classes, activities and accommodation are in the same secure location. Residential centres are often located in British boarding schools or university campuses. Trained staff are present to supervise young students at all times.
Young learners can also stay in homestay accommodation, which gives them the chance to experience British life and practice speaking English with fluent speakers. Hosts go through suitability checks and a criminal record check before they can host students. Homes are regularly inspected by the language centre to check they are in good condition. Students have a 24 hour phone number to contact school staff in case of problems.
The school does a risk assessment for all activities, to ensure the young learners are protected and safe from harm. A risk assessment ensures there are always enough adults to supervise children for each activity and there are plans in place in case of problems.
When young learners go on organised excursions to visit UK destinations and tourist attractions, the school will make detailed plans for safe transport and appropriate supervision.
What should agents, parents and guardians do to ensure they understand the rules that protect students?
> Read the school’s safeguarding policies and rules on caring for young learners (all accredited centres are required to have this).
> Ensure students understand the rules and what to expect from their English language learning experience.
> Speak to the school staff if they have any questions or concerns.
> Make sure the student’s contact details and medical information are correct, and share them with the school.
> If you have questions about safeguarding rules for young learners in the UK, you can contact English UK’s compliance manager Naadiya Rawat.