“We call it Blink because we don’t want the parents of the children using it to miss a thing,” Charlotte Hamson, sales and marketing manager at Bright World Guardianships and Education, told The PIE News at this week’s Studyworld conference.
“We like to think of it as our version of Facebook with a cover page and timeline. There are icons as you go down the timeline which represent phone calls, emails and reports, which represent the communication our Bright World ‘buddies’ have had with students using the service.”
Bright World buddies (guardians) are located up and down the UK, and typically oversee welfare matters such as attending parents’ evenings or assisting if a child becomes ill.
“Agents’ reputations are seriously affected if an unreliable guardian is used”
Through Blink they bring parents further into the process – uploading pictures of a child’s daily activities or details of that child’s communications with their guardian.
“Nothing is deleted. Some students can be with us for up three years and all of their progress will be logged in there. It’s just easier for the parents to read,” said Hamson.
Demand for guardianship firms is said to be growing after UKBA tightened rules this year, requiring all students under 18 who study in the UK to have guardians. There around 18,000 international students at British boarding schools and just 27 accredited guardianship services (though many smaller non accredited outfits).
While “technically anyone can be a guardian”, said Hamson, agents risked their reputations if they hired someone unreliable. Many students also don’t have a relative in the UK which leads them to use guardianship services.
“I think it’s a growth area because lots of agents don’t actually realise minors need a guardian”
“I think it’s a growth area because lots of agents don’t actually realise minors need a guardian,” she said.
“We’ve grown again this year by around 30%, taking on schools in three more regions in the UK… And we’ve hired four more staff in the last six months to cope with this increase.”