Hosting FAQs

We hope you will find the answers to the questions that you have about hosting with MyEducation.

How do you become a host family?

MyEducation works with families of all shapes and sizes. We have no set idea of what a host family should look like. The main thing that we ask from a host family is that they can provide a safe, loving and supportive environment for a young person to live in.

You can be a family with children at home or a family without children. You can be a single parent or a single person. You can be a family whose children have now moved out, or a same-sex couple. Whatever your situation, please contact us to talk about the benefits of hosting and what you can offer to an exchange student.

To become a host family with MyEducation there are a few processes that you need to complete to be approved:

  1. Contact MyEducation to register your interest in becoming a host family by completing our host family profile form.
  2. Meet with a staff member at your home to complete an in-person interview and to complete relevant documents for your application.
  3. Complete a police check:
    1. England and Wales residents: DBS checks are required. These are done online and all costs are covered by MyEducation.
    2. Scotland residents: A PVG is required. Prior to your home interview you will receive the necessary documents to apply for a new PVG or to confirm your existing PVG. We ask that these documents are completed prior to the meeting and the necessary ID documents are ready for the staff member to view. All costs of the application are covered by MyEducation.
  4. Provide us with three referees we can contact to enquire about family life.
  5. Choose a student that best matches your family and get in contact with them to build a relationship with them before their arrival.
  6. Welcome your new ‘host son’ or ‘host daughter’ into your home.

Once you have been approved as a host family, the MyEducation team will send you a selection of profiles to look at based on your hosting preferences and family interests and hobbies. We will provide you with a basic profile, a letter from the student and a collection of photos. These documents should give you a good indication of the personality of the students and allow you to choose who might suit your home best.

Once you have chosen your student we will enrol them at your local school and then the placement can be confirmed and you can start getting to know one another.

Many of our families choose to host more than one student. We do allow students to share a room with one another, but we will check at the interview if we believe the room to offer sufficient space to accommodate two teenagers. Some families choose to host two students because they like to have the support there for one another, but you need to be aware that not all students become best friends and might live very different and separate lives while on exchange.

Families can host students of different sexes, but they cannot share a room. We do not place students from the same country in the same home. They must be from different countries so that their only common language is English.

Once all of the host family checks have been completed and a school enrolment has been secured you will then be given the contact information for your student. We share the placement information with you and the partner organisation on the same day. The partner will then send the information to the student. We ask that host families wait 24 hours before contacting their student so that the partner has time to send the details to them. It is better that the student learns about the placement from the partner rather than being contacted out of the blue by a host family.

It is important that you do start a relationship with your student before their arrival as it allows you all to get to know one another. The student and their parents might have a lot of questions about the area, the school and what to pack. Some students communicate a lot with their families prior to arrival, while others do not. Either way, you have plenty of time to get to know one another when they arrive.

When we initiate the placement process with you, we will speak to you about the local schools that might be able to enrol an exchange student. If we have not placed a student in your area before, we will immediately contact the schools to enquire about an enrolment. This process can take some time as some schools have never worked with exchange students before and have no policy about their enrolment.

The school might only be able to welcome a 10-month student due to the funding that they currently receive for EU students. Some schools are happy to enrol students of all program lengths because they recognise the many benefits that an exchange student can bring to a school community. The school will dictate what is possible and we will keep you up to date on answers we receive. We have to ask for your patience while we speak with the schools as teachers are very busy and it can take several weeks in some cases to get a firm answer.

Preparing for arrival

As a host family for a MyEducation student you are mainly responsible for providing a caring environment for our students to come into. We ask that you treat the student as you would your own son or daughter. Make them feel welcome, involve them in family life and support them as they embark on this great adventure. You do have a guardian role for the student and we hope that you will help them to pursue their interests, ensure they are managing at school and keeping up with schoolwork, and help them to make the most of their time in the UK.

On a material level, you are asked to provide:

  • a room for the student to live in – the room should be comfortable, decorated, clean and have a bed and space for the student to unpack and store their clothing and possessions. Students also need access to a space to study. This does not have to be in the bedroom, but if it is in another area of the house, it is important that the space is quiet so that they can concentrate.
  • All meals – families should provide three meals a day for the student.
    • On a school day we ask that they have access to the makings of a school lunch (sandwich, fruit, snacks). Families are not required to make the lunch and in fact it is better that the student makes it themselves. Please ensure they know what can be used and where everything is. Some students might opt to buy their own lunch at school, which is fine. Please just discuss what they want to do.
    • If a student is out with friends or at an activity and eat out then you are not responsible for their meal. However, if they will be home later due to an activity then we hope that you will communicate together to ensure that the student has a meal.
    • Some families like to eat out. As you are receiving reimbursement for the student we expect that you would purchase a drink and main meal for the student at a restaurant. If they want other items then it would be up to them to purchase them.
  • Towels and bedding – please provide good quality towels and bedding for the student to use during their stay. Students are not expected to bring these items with them or purchase them on arrival.

During the exchange you will receive a set monthly amount to cover the costs of meals and incidentals such as additional heating, water, gas, etc. The amount is seen as a reimbursement and is not designed to support a home financially and should not be relied upon as a source of income. The reimbursement is paid on the 15th of the month and is paid two weeks in arrears (e.g. the payment received on October 15th is for hosting from 1st October to 31st October).

If a student was to terminate their program or move to another home then the host family would not receive any further payments. Reimbursement is only paid while the student is in your home. Families will receive double the reimbursement if they host two students.

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 and understanding of the exchange experience. At this meeting their English 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 preparation 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 their Area Representative. Here all details of the exchange are discussed again, but this time it has a specific UK focus.

Prior to the arrival of your student you will receive newsletters and preparation emails to help you consider what is needed when hosting and how to best manage the experience. You will also receive a handbook of information. A few weeks before arrival you will be asked to participate in a host family arrival orientation where we will discuss the details of hosting and answer any questions that you have.

After arrival you will continue to receive support from your Area Representative and the MyEducation office team.

On arrival we ask that the house is in good order so that the student has a positive first impression of your home. Their bedroom should be ready for their arrival.

Some families like to put together a little welcome pack for the student that might include local maps, bus and train timetables, leaflets about local attractions, school information etc. Some typical British treats are always a nice gesture too.

Welcoming your student

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 and England and Wales arrivals usually attend a camp in Stratford or near Cambridge. At the end of these camps the students then travel by bus or train to their host family area and we ask that you collect them from their arrival point. The arrival date is communicated to you ahead of time and transport is usually booked a month before arrival.

For arrivals in January the students travel to your 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.

On departure, all students leave from their local airport.

Our best advice to all host families is to start as you mean to go on.

Your student will live with you for a considerable amount of time and so it is important that you do not treat them as a guest. They are a member of your family and so you should treat them like that. If you fall into the habit of doing everything for them in the first week, it becomes harder to break that habit and the student might not understand what is expected of them.

Show them where things are. Show them how to make a cup of tea! Make it clear what they can eat in the kitchen, how to work the TV, where the washing machine is and where to find spare toilet rolls. It might feel very odd not to treat a new arrival as a guest, but it is important for you and the student that expectations are set early on as it will help you all to succeed.

Many families like to spend a day showing their student around the local town. Show them how to get to school. Some have chores that need to be done such as purchasing uniform items or getting a new SIM card for their mobile phone.

Don’t do too much in the first few days as the students will be tired. The mental strain of speaking English and meeting new people and possibly recovering from jet lag will take its toll on them, so there is no need to do too much. Again, start as you mean to go on.

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 you consider the rules and expectations that you wish to put on your student. If you have other teenage children then we would expect you to put the same rules on the student as you have for your own children. Understandably you might decide that some modifications are needed while your student gets to know the area and makes friends. Think about what chores you 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 consider how you might limit phone and internet time and ensure that homework is being completed.

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

Again, start as you mean to go on!

Make sure that you speak with the student in the first few days about what your rules and expectations are. It is best to have a conversation and in some cases families like to write things down, especially when a student has a more limited understanding of English.

Remember that it is easier to remind a student of what is expected rather than asking them to completely change their understanding of what is expected of them while living in your home.

MyEducation will secure an enrolment date for your student from the school. Some schools like to have a meeting with them to draw up their timetable and then the student returns the following day, while others like to have the student start on day one. We will do our best to confirm the enrolment day and time prior to the start of term.

Where possible we ask that a host parent accompanies the student to school on the first day so that they have support and help. It is a huge benefit for them to have you with them and to help them find their way.

During the program

Communication is key for the success of the program. Encourage your student to talk with you 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 that many students encounter 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.

Suggest activities for them to do at weekends as well as involving them in your weekly activities. If you go to the gym or for a walk, try and take your student along. Take them to local attractions and make them aware of local events. Also encourage them to meet up with new acquaintances at school to help them build a friendship. Make it clear if your student is welcome to bring a friend to the home.

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.

We hope that all students will grasp every opportunity to meet new people and try new experiences, but some are more hesitant than others. MyEducation believes that it is vital that all students join at least one club while on exchange. It helps to keep them busy and to meet people of a similar mindset, and they will also have a lot of fun. As a host family we would ask that you help your student find a club that they want to participate in and then ensure they get involved. A firm but friendly motivation is necessary for some students as they might be nervous to try new things.

From your student’s profile and discussions with them before arrival it would be wonderful if you can investigate the opportunities for them in the local area. Some schools offer a variety of activities, while others do not. If your student wants to join Scouts or a choir, any help you can offer to find them a club and get them enrolled early on will do a lot to help them succeed and settle early in the program.

Your Area Representative is a local person who is a volunteer with MyEducation. They are people who enjoy working with young people or have hosted before and know the benefits of the exchange. Area Representatives are there to support you and the student through the experience.

The Area Representative has a set level of contact that they must have with the student and this is a mixture of calls and meetings each month. MyEducation does not have a set timetable for contact with a host family as we prefer that you and the Area Representative work out what is needed. We ask that the Area Representative is in contact monthly with you, but you can determine how you communicate. Between these calls and meetings, both you and the student can contact the Area Representative when needed.

Communication is so important during the exchange experience. If there is a problem it is vital that you talk with someone about it early on. The longer you leave a problem, the harder it is to fix.

With minor issues we would hope that you can speak with the student directly and explain the problem and make sure that the student understands the rules and expectations. 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 you contact your Area Representative if you need assistance. Again, the sooner the issue is raised, the more we can do to help. You might feel that the Area Representative needs to reaffirm the message you have given the student about a problem or you might ask them to contact the student because you are concerned about them.

We ask the same of our students. If there is a minor issue we hope that they can talk with you directly about it and get help. 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 you about the concern. For more complicated issues, a sit down might be required between you, the student and the Area Representative 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.

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.

Some families have holidays booked during the period that a student is living with them. Some students travel with their family and in this situation the student would be expected to pay for their accommodation and travel where required. It is important to discuss these costs with the students early on because some have more limited budgets than others.

If you take a holiday without your student we ask that you communicate your travel dates as early as possible to the MyEducation team. We will then work with you to find a temporary family for the student. Students are not allowed to stay overnight in the host family home without an adult present. If the student has to move to another family while you are away, the temporary family will receive reimbursement for hosting the student and your monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly.

No. Students remain on exchange for the full period of their program. They will spend school holidays and Christmas with you at your home.

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

An exchange program is not a time for students to tour the country and see the whole of the UK. We do not expect families to travel excessively with their students. We do hope that you will make the effort to show them local attractions and to show them things that you are able to manage and afford. All students are responsible for their own entry fees to attractions so you do not need to budget for this. All students are grateful for the opportunities they are offered and we hope that you can all do fun things together.

MyEducation aims to offer two trips over the 10-month period, but numbers affect whether the trips can run. We usually organise a weekend in London in November and a trip to Scotland in March/April. All details are shared with the students as early as possible so that they can choose if they wish to join. These trips are an additional cost for them and while we try to keep the cost as low as possible, not all students will choose to join in.

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