Area Representative FAQs

Here are answers to some of the questions you might have about being an Area Representative with MyEducation.

How do you become an Area Representative?

We work with Area Representatives of all ages and backgrounds from across the UK. We place students in all areas of England, Wales and Scotland, so we need local people to support them and our host families through the exchange experience.

We prefer that applicants are over the age of 25 and have a current driving license and access to a car, but it is not a requirement. Applicants should be friendly, kind and approachable. You should be interested in global communities, international cultures, keen to promote your local community and enjoy working with young people.

For each student that you support, we ask that you contact them every month. We have a schedule of face-to-face and online meetings that we ask you to follow as a minimum requirement. We also ask that you are in contact with the host family once a month, in a manner that is agreed between you and the family.

Between these meetings the host family and student can contact you with any questions or concerns that they need support with. If matters become more complicated the office staff might ask you to meet the family and student to facilitate an open discussion. When an issue arises you may need to invest a little more time in the role in order to help everyone manage the problem.

For the face-to-face meetings, some Area Representatives like to meet their students for a coffee, while others like to arrange a group excursion. The choice is yours about how to manage the meetings, as long as there is an opportunity for the students to get to know you and speak with you privately if they need to.

Outside of the support for our arriving students, we might ask if you want to assist with host family finding or interviewing outbound students as well as promoting our programs. You can decide how involved you wish to be.

If you want to be an Area Representative with MyEducation, please fill in the online application form. A staff member will then be in contact with you to arrange an online or face-to-face meeting. We will send materials to you to help you learn more about the program, the expectations we have of the students and what will be asked of you.

At the meeting we will assess your suitability for the role and your keenness to be involved in the success of our students’ programs. We will speak about the role and explain the details and nuances of it so that both you and the MyEducation team can decide if the role is right for you. If you are successful, we will arrange formal training at a later date.

The meeting is also supported by reference checks and a DBS or PVG check.

What responsibilities will I have?

The primary responsibilities of an Area Representative are to provide support and guidance for our arriving students and the host families that welcome them. This involves:

  • Minimum level of contact of a monthly call or face-to-face meeting.
  • Monitor and support the students and host families.
  • Be a friendly and supportive person who builds a relationship quickly with students and host parents.
  • Report any concerns to the office and seek guidance on how to proceed.
  • Complete a monthly written report  about the progress of each student.
  • Be a positive ambassador for MyEducation

Additional or optional responsibilities may include:

  • Interviewing new host families.
  • Recruiting new host families.
  • Interviewing British students hoping to go on exchange overseas.
  • Assisting to secure enrolment at a local school.
  • Completing host family orientations.
  • Arrival meetings at a local airport or train or bus station.
  • Arrival orientation meetings.

The Area Representative role is an unpaid role. MyEducation provides reimbursement for costs you incur and for your time. The amount reimbursed varies according to the tasks you undertake. Full details will be provided to you by the MyEducation team.

Reimbursement is paid to you each month.

All of our students are processed and approved by our trusted partner organisations across the world. We do not work directly with foreign students. This relationship ensures that students and natural parents are properly supported and prepared for the exchange experience.

All students must provide a complete application package including a medical form completed by a GP, teacher references, school reports and personal documents. Students are also interviewed by staff from our partner organisation to assess their readiness for and understanding of the exchange experience. At this meeting their English language ability would also be assessed.

After acceptance and before arrival, all students participate in a pre-departure orientation where the details of the exchange are discussed and rules and expectations are made clear. This orientation is also supported by handbooks and other documents.

On arrival in the UK, all students participate in an arrival orientation. Depending on their arrival time this will either be done as a group at an arrival camp or locally by you, their Area Representative. At this meeting all details of the exchange are discussed again, but this time with a specific UK focus.

Prior to the arrival of your students we ask that you contact the host families to make sure they are happy and ready for the students. You might be asked to complete a host family orientation in person for a new host family. As you will have the contact information for your students, it might also be nice to contact them and introduce yourself ahead of their arrival.

If a local orientation is required then we ask that you schedule this with the host family so that it can be completed within 2 weeks of arrival.

On arrival day we ask that you contact the host families and/or students to ensure they have arrived safely.

MyEducation cannot promise you a minimum number of students each year. It depends on how many students we have arriving and also how many potential host families want to host in your area.

If you can only manage one student then that is fine. If you want to work with more than one, we hope you will actively spread the word about hosting in your local community so that we can place more students in your area. You determine what you can manage around your own personal and professional commitments.

Welcoming your students

Our arrivals in August/September usually attend an arrival camp prior to heading to their host family home. Scotland arrivals usually attend a camp in Stirling, England and Wales arrivals usually attend a camp in Stratford or near Cambridge. At the end of these camps the students travel by bus or train to their host family area and we ask that the host family collects them from their arrival point. The arrival date is communicated to everyone ahead of time and transport is usually booked a month before arrival. Sometimes we might need your assistance meeting the students and we would be in contact about this ahead of time.

For arrivals in January the students travel to the nearest local airport. We prefer that families collect their students from the airport, but if this is not possible we will arrange a transfer for them. If you are available to assist with travel, then we would be grateful and you would be reimbursed.

After the students arrive we ask that you meet with them within 2 weeks of arrival so that they can get to know you and build a relationship with you. The sooner you can meet them the better, as the first few months of exchange are challenging and students might need your support early on.

Our best advice to all host families is to start as they mean to go on. As an Area Representative we hope that you will reinforce this message with the host family and the student.

Students will live with their host family for a considerable amount of time, so it is important that they do not treat them as a guest. Students are members of their family and should be treated as such. It is also vital that families and students communicate and understand the rules and expectations that are in place at home and in the local area.

Your early communications with the host family and student should make it clear that you are there to help and be contacted, but also encourage them to look to one another for support and have an open line of communication in the home. This will help to solve issues before they become too complicated.

MyEducation has a list of rules for the students to follow while on exchange and these are communicated to them prior to arrival and at orientation. These rules include, but are not limited to:

  • no alcohol, smoking or drugs
  • no driving of any motorised vehicle
  • must work hard at school
  • follow the rules of the host family.

We ask that host families consider the rules and expectations that they wish to put on their student. If they have other teenage children then we would expect them to put the same rules on the student as they have for their own children. Understandably, they might decide that some modifications are needed while their student gets to know the area and makes friends. Families should think about what chores they expect the student to do at home and how they should help in general. Many families experience issues with overuse of screens in the home, so they should consider how they might limit phone and internet time and ensure that homework is being completed. Your guidance and advice, especially for new families, will be vital as they prepare for the arrival of their students.

MyEducation will provide as much support and guidance as possible to ensure that families are ready for the arrival of their student and we will also support their rules as the student is living in their home.

Building a relationship quickly with the host families and students is very important. They need to know that you are there for support and can be contacted if issues arise.

In the first month of the exchange it is vital that you meet your students and spend time with them so that you can get to know one another. That meeting can then be followed up by messages and/or calls to make sure that your students are doing well. If they know you are available then we hope the students will think to contact you rather than calling their parents at home, which will make problem management much easier.

During the program

Communication is key for the success of the program. Encourage your students to talk about their day at school and how they are feeling about the experience. Are they happy at school and at home? Opening up this line of communication will help you all to succeed and to ensure that you both get the most from the experience.

Homesickness can be a problem for many students and so it helps if you make sure that students don’t spend a lot of time in their room alone or speaking with their family and friends from home. The more time they spend isolated in this manner the harder it will be for them to overcome homesickness and cultural adjustment. As the Area Representative, you can speak to the host family to make sure that this is not happening.

Suggest activities for students and families to do at weekends and after school. Also encourage them to meet up with new acquaintances at school to help them build a friendship. Extra-curricular activities are hugely important and we expect that students should do at least one activity. This will help them to meet new people with similar interests and also keep them busier. Consider what is available in your local area and make suggestions to the host families and students about what might be possible.

Gentle encouragement is needed for all students, but some might need a little more help than others. Although you might expect all applicants to the program to be very outgoing and brave, it is not the case. Some students will hit the ground running and take everything in their stride, while others are quite shy and nervous of trying new things, so you may have to adjust your manner and level of involvement to support them accordingly. Over time they will make friends and become busier and you will see them develop and spread their wings more.

Communication is so important during the exchange experience. If there is a problem it is vital that your students talk with someone about it quickly. The longer they leave a problem, the harder it is to fix.

With minor issues we would hope that the host family can speak with the student directly and vice versa. The family needs to explain the problem and make sure that the student understands the rules and expectations, and a student needs to seek the family’s help and advice.  For the majority of issues, a clear conversation can resolve problems very quickly.

If a problem is larger, e.g. if the student is isolating themselves from the family or breaking the rules, then it is important that the family or student contact you as the Area Representative. Again, the sooner the issue is raised, the more we can do to help. Once you have been made aware of an issue you might need to speak with the host family or with the student about it to try and work out how you can help and whether they are all aware of the issue that has been raised. In some cases, a family can be completely unaware that a student is struggling and vice versa.

For more complex issues, the student might speak first with the Area Representative. In this situation the Area Representative might then come and speak with the host family about the concern. For more complicated issues, a sit-down might be required between you, the student and the host family to discuss the issue. We hope that everyone will come to that meeting with an open mind and be willing to move forward and support one another. As the guide for the meeting, we would hope that you can give everyone the support they need to speak openly and honestly and come up with a plan to move forward and tackle the concerns.

For especially complex problems, we ask that you contact the MyEducation team before proceeding too far with conversations and actions. We will be able to offer advice about how best to proceed and assist you to prepare for a family meeting. We will also report any serious concerns to the overseas partner when necessary.

If serious issues cannot be resolved then we will work to find a new host family for the student. Finding a family can take several weeks so we must ask for patience while this process is completed.

MyEducation has a set schedule for student contact. This is the minimum level of contact that is required, but our most successful Area Representatives tend to be in contact with the students more often and this really helps to build a relationship. More face-to-face meetings are required in the first 4 months of the program and then these mandated meetings become less. This is because students generally need more support early in the program. Later on they are more established and busy, so these in-person meetings are less regular.

No. Students remain on exchange for the full period of their program. They will spend school holidays and Christmas with their host family.

Special circumstances might lead MyEducation to allow a student to return home for a short period, but this is not common.

You determine how you want to run the role and build the relationship with your students and families. Some Area Representatives like to meet with students on an individual basis, while others like to arrange group meetings at their home or at a local attraction. Area Representatives have taken their students to castles, mini-golf, ice-skating and markets in the past. If you are planning a day out it is best to set these dates early and make the host families aware of your plans so that there is no crossover.

There is no requirement to plan big activities. A simple coffee in the town can be just as effective to find time to speak with your student and build a relationship.

Become an Area Representative today