From time-to-time we receive calls from parents and nine times out of ten, the calls are regarding the same issue. Here at Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS), we are experts in what we do, we have experience in school management and student welfare and have experience in dealing with just about any issue that may arise. Therefore, if you receive a call from your son or daughter, please trust us in what we do. Although all issues are very important to us, the likelihood is we have experienced it and dealt with it a thousand times.
This ‘Guide for Parents’ is here to help you know what to do should you have any concerns or receive call from your son or daughter.
Calling your son or daughter
As harsh as this may sound, we would like to advise that you do not call or message your child. The old saying is that ‘no news is good news’ and in calling your child the following could happen:
Although they have been fine all week, they will suddenly feel homesick as upon hearing your voice, they will realise that they miss you and may begin to feel upset.
Your child may sound unhappy. This is because as you called them, they were spending time with their new friends and your call means that they had to leave their new friends. They will want to finish the call as quickly as possible and therefore might not sound themselves.
You may be calling during a lesson or an activity. This is extremely disruptive to everyone. If you must call, i.e. in an emergency, you may call between the hours of 08:00 to 09:00, 13:00 to 14:00 and 19:00 to 20:00.
You may create problems that do not exist. Parents often misinterpret what their children are saying. They may say, “My bedroom is horrible,” but what they really mean is, “I am sharing a room with someone from a different country and not the person from my country who I said hello to in the Welcome Room.” In the first 24 to 48 hours of arriving at BOSS, our students may feel tired, homesick, shy, even scared. This is completely normal and this is the most common time for our students to call their parents. However once they make a friend and join the first activity, they soon forget about all of this. If they call you within the first 48 hours of arrival, please do not worry about anything, simply encourage them to get involved and make friends. Usually by the Tuesday afternoon, everyone has settled in and any feelings of tiredness, homesickness, shyness or fear would have completely disappeared.
Your son or daughter tells you that they are homesick
Homesickness occurs very rarely. In the eight summers of BOSS, we have only experienced two cases of it and we have welcomed over 6,000 individual students. We try to prevent homesickness by keeping our students so busy that they do not have the opportunity to think about home. In the most extreme case, the student was completely fine after five days. It is emotionally difficult for our staff to deal with extreme cases of homesickness so it must be very difficult for a parent to know that their child feels this way. However, and this may sound heartless, the best way to treat homesickness is by simply ignoring it. As staff, we of course show homesick students some sympathy but the more attention that they are given, the worse the homesickness becomes. Therefore, the best solution is for us to encourage them to participate in their classes and in their activities. The more time they spend out of class or activities, the more homesick they will feel. They need to be distracted, to be kept busy and to be kept entertained.
As difficult as this may be, if you receive a call from your child who you know is homesick, the best thing is to simply tell them to return to their class or their activity. Do not spend more than 30 seconds on the phone with them because believe it or not, the more contact a child has with their parents, the more homesick they feel.
Your son or daughter tells you that they do not like the food
At BOSS, we can have on average 30 different nationalities at any one time in our dining room. With each nationality comes a different palate, i.e. a different food preference. Therefore, in our dining room we attempt to provide food that is suitable for all nationalities and do this by offering a variety of cuisines and a variety of options. There is never anything on offer that anyone will not like. There is something for everyone. All staff eat the same food any year-on-year the feedback from staff regarding the food has been good. Therefore, if your child calls you and says that, “There is nothing to eat,” please be assured that there is and encourage them to try the food on offer.
Your son or daughter tells you that their class is to easy/difficult
You are likely, if at all, to receive this call in the first day or two of your child’s stay with us regarding their class being too easy or difficult. The main reason for this is because they are not in the same class as their friends and want to change class so that they can be with their friends. This is not a legitimate reason. Each student takes our English test on arrival day and our classes are organised by experts so that all students are in the right class for their English level.
If your child does call you with this concern, simply tell them to speak to the Director of Studies. This way, our Director of Studies can assess their spoken English, and your child gets to practise their English during the conversation.
Your son or daughter tells you that they do not like their bedroom
Again, you may receive this call in the first day or two of your child’s stay and it will probably be because they are not in a room with either their friend or someone who can speak the same language. One of the most important aspects of BOSS is that our student share rooms with students of other nationalities so that they not only learn about British culture but also other cultures.
If however you do receive such a call, please inform your child to speak to a member of staff.
Your son or daughter tells you that they do not feel well
We have staff responsible for taking care of our students 24 hours a day. We also run daily room inspections, not only to check that rooms are kept tidy, but also to check the wellbeing of students every morning. If a student is sick, we will know and we have ways and means of dealing with sick students. We have a nurse on call, we have a doctor 15 minutes away and a hospital 15 minutes away. Students must not bring their own medicine with them unless it has been prescribed by a doctor. We cannot express how important this is. If your child calls you and tells you that they are feeling sick, again, simply tell them to speak to a member of staff. Do not tell them to take any secret medicine they you have given to them (lots of parents do) and do not tell us what we should do. We know what to do and we will take every step necessary to provide the highest level of care to our students.
Your son or daughter tells you that they do not know what they are doing
Students have a copy of the school timetable in the diaries that we give to them upon arrival. Their first meeting each day is at 08:00 when they get together with their House Parent. They have a morning assembly at 09:00, an afternoon meeting at 15:15, an evening meeting at 20:00 and finally a more formal ‘House Meeting’ at 22:00. Around our campus we have screens with information about the day’s events as well as a notice board containing information about activities and excursions. As well as this, we have a team of staff who are constantly reminding students of times, activities, excursions, etc. so really, there is no way that students should never know what they are doing. Still, if they do call with this issue, simply tell them to speak to a member of staff.
Your son or daughter tells you that they cannot understand anything
Of course some students may not have a great level of English however, it is always possible to communicate somehow. Between us, our team of staff can speak most languages and if not, another student or Group Leader could help with translation however, please note, we will only use a students’ first language in an emergency. We want our students to try and communicate with us no matter what. That is one of the reasons why they are here. To practise their English, to improve their English and most importantly to grow in confidence.
If your child calls you to say that they cannot understand anything, as always, tell them to speak to a member of staff. We can always find a way to communicate.
What to Bring
Although your child will probably want to bring many things remember that the lighter they travel, the happier they will be and the easier it will be!
We recommend that students bring:
Normal clothes – whatever they wear in their day-to-day lives.
Sports clothes – for whatever sports they are interested in. We will be offering a lot of sports.
Nice clothes – for discos!
Swimming costume – we have a pool and may visit the beach. Not in Spring though!
Toiletries and towel – to wash!
Pyjamas/relaxing clothes – to sleep and relax!
A waterproof coat – in case it rains!
For our Spring Course - warm clothes, warm coat, hat, scarf, gloves, waterproofs.
An alarm clock.
All course materials are provided but we advise students to bring pens and pencils.
Questions that Mothers and Fathers Often Ask
Q. How safe is BOSS and its surroundings for my son or daughter at your Summer School?
A. BOSS is extremely safe! We are set in a beautiful part of the south of England and surrounded by sumptuous countryside. Moreover we plan the supervision of our students very carefully to ensure that they are always supervised and we have 24 hour CCTV. Our standards are very high.
Q. What is the weather like at BOSS during July and August?
A. In summer the weather is normally warm and settled. The temperature can range from 17 to 25 degrees centigrade. There should be very little rain and lots of sunshine. We hope.
Q. What is the food like at BOSS?
A. All meals are provided in the Dining Room except on full day excursions when a packed lunch will be provided. All of our food is cooked by our in-house chefs and is served in our family style dining room. Our chefs work at BOSS all year round so they certainly know how to treat our guests and as they are part of the BOSS family, any suggestions and/or complaints can be addressed immediately!
Q. What clothes should my son/daughter bring?
A. Students should bring summer clothes suitable for their time here as well as a pullover, a raincoat, swimwear, trainers (sports shoes) and a towel for swimming.
Q. How much pocket money will my child need to bring?
A. As a general guide £50 a week is ample. Your child may wish to purchase souvenirs, drinks and snacks. Money can be given to staff or group leaders for safekeeping.
Q. What can my child do with valuables?
A. Passports, airline tickets, cameras etc can be given to staff for safekeeping.
Q. Should insurance be taken out to cover my child’s stay on the course?
A. Insurance is included in your child’s package and covers: Personal Injury, Medical Expenses, Emergency Repatriation Expenses - including ACE assistance, Personal Belongings, Delayed or Lost Personal Belongings, Money, Emergency Replacement of Passport, Cancellation, Curtailment, Travel Delay (after 12 hours), Missed Departure and Personal Liability.
Q. How many students do you have attending your Summer School at any one time?
A. There will be between 100 and 180 students at the school. Strict ratios of students to staff and group leaders will be in place to provide supervision.
Q. How secure are the houses?
A. Each house has a House Tutor. All valuables will be locked and secured in a safe. Each evening we lock and secure all houses and alarm them to ensure that no one gets, gets out and of course we have our 24 hour CCTV.
Q. What kind of lessons do you have on your residential courses?
A. The students will study twenty five 45 minute lessons a week over 5 days. These will be course book based but will also include extra activities and project work. Students will be tested on arrival and placed in a suitable level. The maximum class size is 15.
Q. What happens if my son/daughter gets homesick while he/she is on the course?
A. We pay special attention to children who, for a few days, may miss their home and family. We team him or her with a person who understands the problem. We will help the child to keep in contact with the family by phone and we will help the child to enter into the spirit of the course.
Q. Are there any special items that my child should bring?
A. Yes there are. A watch and alarm clock as we expect your child to be on time for lessons and meals etc. A hairdryer if needed. Remember to include a 3-pin adapter; this will be needed for a phone-charger as well. Swimming goggles if they are required for swimming and clean white-soled sports shoes for use in the sports hall. Students from outside the European Union must bring photocopies of the photo page of their passport and the UK Visa page.
Q. What should I do if my child needs to take medicine?
A. By law your child should not take his or her medicine without supervision. Medicine should be given to a member of staff or the group leader with clear instructions. If your child feels unwell, he or she should contact a member of staff immediately. We will arrange a visit to the doctors if the First Aider is unable to deal with the problem.
Q. What type of laundry facilities does the school have?
A. We will provide a laundry service once a week and each house has a washing machine should students wish to wash their own clothes.
Q. Will my child be able to exchange our currency while in England?
A. Yes, we will help the students change money into Pounds Sterling at local banks and travel shops. It is a good idea to arrive with a small amount of English money for immediate needs such as phone cards.
Q. Can we stay with our child on the campus while he or she attends lessons?
A. Only students and staff may stay on the campus.
Q. I am taking my child to the school and collecting him/her at the end of the course. What time should I do this?
A. Please contact the Summer School Director to arrange a suitable time and place for the student to arrive at or be collected from. Students should arrive on a Sunday and depart on Saturdays
Q. What rules will the students have to follow?
A. Students must follow the law of the land, which means that:
No students can buy alcohol or cigarettes/tobacco despite their age.
The use of alcohol by students and drugs is strictly forbidden and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Students found to be in possession of alcohol or students found to be in possession of drugs may be reported to the police and their course terminated with no refund given. BOSS does not accept any liability for students who are under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal substances. No alcohol is permitted in the residence and on the campus.
Any student who is considered to be excessively under the influence of alcohol will be asked to leave the school.
No smoking is permitted in the residence, on the campus and while on activities or excursions. No smoking is permitted at any time by students while on the course.
Students are expected to keep their bedrooms tidy and put their litter in bins provided.
Students must leave the communal areas in the residence at 22:00.
We reserve the right to terminate without notice the course of any student who persistently misconducts him/herself during the programme, or who fails to meet the attendance requirements of the course. There is no refund of fees to students whose courses are terminated in this way. If a student is a part of a group, the group leader must be involved in any disciplinary procedures that are enforced.
To summarise, we once received a phone call from one of our partners who had received a phone call from a parent who had received a phone call from her son. I spoke to our partner, she called the parent back and the parent then called the son. All the time, the ‘son’ was standing next to the Summer School Director and all he wanted was an extra pillow. All he had to do was ask but instead, five cross continental phone calls were made to resolve an issue that could’ve been solved in seconds.
In any case, please always encourage your child to speak directly to a member of staff and to deal with any issues themselves. This will help them to develop their problem solving skills, to become more independent and to grow in confidence. It also means that any issues can be resolved much faster and more effectively.