Updated: Jan 27
At Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS), we realise that one of the most important times of a students’ stay with us is the first 24 to 48 hours. This is our opportunity to make a good impression, to make the student feel welcome and to make the student feel as comfortable as possible. Get it right and the student will ride the crest of that wave until it is time to leave, but get it wrong and it may take that student a little bit longer to settle.
Over the years, we have almost perfected (almost because there is always room for improvement) our arrival day procedure and whether the person walking through the door is an eight year old who has spent the last 24 hours travelling from Bangkok alone or a 17 year old who has only been on the road for 2 or 3 hours from Lille in France with their parents, they are both given the same assuring welcome as we take into consideration not only that they may never have been to BOSS before, but that they may never have left their own country or even their family before.
With this in mind, we have put together a number of procedures and methods to help our students feel as comfortable and as welcome as possible, as quickly as possible.
Children travelling alone
Some of our students may be registered with their airline as an unaccompanied minor, but some may not be registered as some airlines allow unaccompanied minors to travel alone. We are often asked ‘how old does a child have to be to fly alone?’ or ‘what airlines allow unaccompanied minors?’ but really it is a difficult question to answer as each airline is different.
If you have children flying alone, you may want to look at airlines that allow unaccompanied minors if you are confident that they can take care of themselves until they meet our staff but if you would like them to be supervised 100% of the time, you may wish to book an unaccompanied minor service meaning that your child will be under the supervision of an adult from the moment you leave them to the moment they meet BOSS staff in the UK.
What to do when you arrive in the UK
If a student is registered as an unaccompanied minor, they will simply follow the instructions of their supervisor but if they are alone, they should follow the instructions below.
When students arrive at the airport, they may not know what to do. The first thing to do when arriving in the UK is not to worry. There are always a lot of people around who can help so they shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they need help. They can find information desks and information points at both Heathrow Airport arrivals and Gatwick Airport arrivals as well as most other airports. Sometimes students may feel like they are walking for a long time but this can be normal as airports are big. They should simply follow the arrival signs to passport control and if they’re not sure which queue to join, just ask. If the queue is very long, again they shouldn’t worry, there is no rush.
Once students have passed through passport control, they should look for the baggage reclaim signs and head to the carousels. When they are there, they will find screens where they will see their departure airport and a number, this number is the number of the carousel that their bag will arrive at. When the bag has arrived, students should head through the green ‘nothing to declare’ door and when they are finally in the arrivals area, they will see many signs with names on. They should look for the sign that says ‘BOSS’ or ‘Buckswood Overseas Summer School’ and when they find it, they are on their way to BOSS!
Hello and welcome!
When we see that car travelling up the drive, we will quickly rush to the front door to greet new students by their first name and to help them with their luggage. Students are always so surprised that we know their name and ask us how we know it. All we can say however is that it is all part of the BOSS magic.
Welcome to the Welcome Room
Students will then enter our Welcome Room where they will sit down and meet a member of the management team, usually the Director, Director of Studies or Summer School Coordinator who will present them with their arrival tasks.
It’s oh so quiet!
When students arrive at BOSS it may be very quiet and there may not be many other students around. They shouldn’t worry! Usually on arrival days all of our existing students will be on an excursion and other new students may be taking the English test or in a different part of the campus. This is a good time to relax and settle in because at 19:00 everyone will return from excursions and suddenly there will be 200 people who all want to find out who’s new and make friends!
Some students are escorted to school by their parents. While we understand that parents want to know that their kids are safe and happy, the presence of parents can actually be worse for our students and really affect their settling in period. Parents will speak on behalf of their kids instead of letting them speak for themselves. Parents will want to unpack their kids’ luggage instead of letting them do it themselves. Some parents will want to spend the whole day at school to make sure their kid is settling in but in reality, they’re preventing their kids from making friends. Really, the presence of parents can add days onto the settling in period and in one or two instances, we have known kids who have never settled at all because their parents’ stay near the school. So parents, please do not be offended when we tell you that it is time to say goodbye!
Also, due to safeguarding laws in the UK, adults who have not been vetted are not allowed on our campus.
The Arrival Tasks
We have a list of tasks for our students to complete upon arrival. The main reason for these tasks is not only to help organise our students’ arrival and to help them settle, but also to prevent them from going directly to their bedrooms where they may be alone and feel a little bit lost. Only once students have completed their arrival tasks can they go to their bedroom. The arrival tasks include:
1. Call my parents
We want out students to call their parents to let them know that they are safe and well.
2. Give my passport, pocket money, medicine and phone number to staff and save the emergency phone number into my phone
Passports and pocket money are kept safe in the main office. Pocket money is given to students the night before excursions.
Students are not allowed to bring any medicine unless it has been prescribed by a doctor. If they have brought medicine that is not prescribed, it will be taken until they leave.
We like to take students’ phone numbers and we like them to save our phone number in case of emergencies.
3. Collect my wristband
On the wristband is our 24 hour emergency number, this must be worn at all times.
4. Collect my BOSS drinks bottle
It is possible to drink water from anywhere in the UK so we give our students a drinks bottle so that they can stay hydrated.
5. Collect my BOSS t-shirt
Students don’t have to wear their BOSS t-shirt all the time but they can if they want. BOSS t-shirts are mainly for messy activities and for friends to sign.
6. Have something to eat and drink
Students may have been eating airplane food for the last 24 hours so we like to make sure that they are well fed and watered before they continue with the day.
7. Take the English test
Yes, that’s right, students take their English placement test on the day that they arrive. They may be tired and may not feel like doing it but we do it on arrival day to keep them busy and most importantly awake until its bed time! It also means that they can start class on the Monday and get straight into learning English!
8. Find a friend who cannot speak my language Learn the names of all BOSS members of staff
After the test, students must find a friend who cannot speak their language and they must introduce each other to a member of staff.
9. Take a tour of the BOSS campus
Although the BOSS campus may seem big before you arrive, it is very easy to walk around and once you get to know it you will know your way around it in no time!
10. Complete the BOSS Selfie Challenge
The BOSS Selfie Challenge is a simple and fun way for new students to get to know our campus.
11. Make a name sign for my bedroom door
Although we have lists of what students are in what room, it is much easier to find students if they have their names on their bedroom doors. It also helps their housemates to learn their names too!
12. Unpack my suitcase
Finally, students will go to their rooms just before dinner where they will unpack their suitcases. We don’t like them to go to their rooms earlier because they will be alone and may even fall asleep which means that they won’t be able to sleep at night!
Dinner time is at 19:00 on Sundays and by this time new students would’ve completed all of their arrival tasks and should be ready to make new friends as by this time there will be 200 students onsite. Not so quiet anymore!
On Sunday evenings we will have a Welcome Assembly to welcome new students, to explain some of the rules and to play some fun games!
Hot Chocolate Time
After the Welcome Assembly, we will have hot chocolate in the Courtyard before students finally head to their houses.
House Meetings happen every day at 22:00 and are an opportunity for students to communicate with their House Tutor and each other. On Sunday evenings, House Meetings are an opportunity to welcome new students to the house and to help them to settle even more.
After a long day of travelling and taking on lots of information, it is finally time to go to bed at 22:30 and get some good rest ready for the first full day at BOSS!
Finally, the best piece of advice that we could give to anyone traveling to BOSS is not to worry and to take your time. There is no rush. If you feel worried or lost, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help and if you feel nervous or scared, this is normal and again, people are around to help. Especially us here at BOSS.
Also remember that when you are travelling, you may feel tired, hungry and thirsty so may not be feeling 100% yourself. Always make sure you eat well and drink plenty of water and remind yourself that everything is good. Tiredness can make people feel a bit worried in general but again, this is normal and once you arrive at BOSS and finally after a good night’s sleep, your journey of the day before will feel like a distant memory as you wake up a new, more independent person ready to take on the world!
Have you been to BOSS before and travelled to the UK on your own? What advice could you give to those who are travelling to BOSS for the first time this year? We’d love to know!
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