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mt1.post_id IS NULL OR ( mt2.meta_key = 'webinar_group_webinar' AND mt2.meta_value = '0' ) ) AND ( mt3.post_id IS NULL OR ( mt4.meta_key = 'protected' AND mt4.meta_value = '0' ) ) ) ) AND ehieposts.post_type = 'post' AND ((ehieposts.post_status = 'publish')) GROUP BY ehieposts.ID ORDER BY ehieposts.menu_order, ehieposts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18385 [post_author] => 43 [post_date] => 2019-06-10 00:00:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-09 23:00:13 [post_content] => The Department for Education (DfE) and Department for International Trade (DIT) have launched a new International Education Strategy (IES) outlining plans to increase student numbers and income generated from international education. Building on the broader Export Strategy published in August 2018, the IES aims to consolidate the strengths in the UK’s education offering whilst addressing the challenges believed to prevent it from reaching its full potential, including, of course, Brexit. Across 23 action points, the IES sets out an ambitious vision impacting on the full spectrum of education sub-sectors from early years through to higher education and aiming to increase the annual value of education exports to £35bn by 2030 (in 2016, it was £20bn). At the same time, it is expected that new National Minimum Standards (NMS) for boarding will be issued in 2019, creating a regulatory requirement for schools to have adequate education guardianship arrangements in place and making them subject to regular inspection. The IES places international education firmly back in the spotlight and suggests there is likely to be renewed interest and increased scrutiny on the arrangements made for international students in the UK. We look at the impact this is likely to have on key stakeholders and, in particular, on the interplay between independent schools registered as Tier 4 sponsors and guardianship organisations.  What will this mean for schools? Our schools, which are singled out in the IES for providing international benchmarks for safeguarding and choice, constitute an important aspect of the UK’s international education profile.  ISC research reported that in 2017 international schools educated around 4.5 million students around the world, a figure projected to double within the next decade, with the popularity of UK curricula delivered in English remaining strong. In 2018, UK independent schools opened more overseas branches than during the previous 20 years and demand for UK schools abroad continues to grow.  The IES seeks to support the ambition and growth of the sector through a variety of measures, including the DIT encouraging independent schools to access international opportunities through the use and provision of exports data, connecting providers with investors and working with key sector bodies to produce information guides for schools interested in developing an international presence.  Perhaps even more significantly, IES Action 13 states that the DfE and DIT will coordinate efforts across government and key sector bodies to encourage independent schools to have a better understanding of guardianship arrangements and the role of accreditation bodies.  Best learning will be gathered from schools who already do this well. Current thinking is that this will result in new NMS in 2019, which will place greater obligations on schools to be proactive in ensuring that guardianship arrangements are acceptable. For those who have been lobbying for the regulation of educational guardianship, these developments represent the culmination of years of work and one of the most welcome changes in the sector for some time.  It was concern about the lack of any formal regulation of educational guardianship and the consequent risks this creates for international students at school in the UK that led, back in 1994, a small group of guardianship organisations and independent schools to create the first accreditation body for guardianship – the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS).   A registered charity, AEGIS now counts 44 guardianship organisations and 72 independent schools as members. Affiliated with the Boarding Schools’ Association since 2018, AEGIS continues to operate its own accreditation framework and accreditation process and to promote best practice in the sector through conferences and training courses. Despite this, the number of international students who received educational guardianship services from an AEGIS-accredited provider remains low.  In 2018, there were just over 28,500 non-British students with parents residing overseas. Of those students, only around 5,000 (17.5%) of them had an AEGIS-accredited educational guardian. It is these statistics that help explain why the IES and new NMS are welcome news to anyone concerned by the potential vulnerability of international students and the legal and regulatory risks being taken by so many schools. New NMS for boarding    Whilst it is difficult to know exactly what the new NMS will look like, it is easy to identify issues that they will hopefully address. One is the current lack of any requirement for international students to be provided with independent educational guardianship.  This is already a condition of AEGIS accreditation and regarded as best practice in order to ensure that students have an educational guardian able to act as their unconflicted advocate, but it is not widespread. As a result, it is still common for schools to allow, or even encourage, members of their own staff to act as educational guardians (and also homestay provider) for students, blurring the important distinction between ‘home’ and ‘school’ and potentially making it impossible for them to feel supported or even able to complain.  Another is clarity on the number of children who are permitted to reside in a homestay at any given time. If experiencing authentic family life within the UK is among the key purposes of a successful homestay arrangement, it makes sense that the number of international students within any one setting be limited.  Historically, that limit has been set informally at three, probably because the Children Act 1989 imposes a cap on how many children may be privately fostered in one household (known as the ‘usual fostering limit’) at that number such that hosting more may require registration as a children’s home. Despite this, there is a reported tendency for unaccredited educational guardians to place as many students as possible in each homestay and for some schools to be disinterested in, or even entirely unaware of, whether or not this is the case.
UK international schools currently educate around 4.5 million students around the world, a figure projected to double within the next decade
From a general welfare perspective this sort of practice is troubling, but it may also be a compliance breach where the school in question is a Tier 4 sponsor and therefore subject to specific Home Office obligations. It is a Tier 4 requirement that any student living in a homestay as part of a private fostering arrangement (i.e. one for 28 consecutive days or more) is not residing in accommodation ‘being operated as a commercial enterprise like a hotel or youth hostel’.  Even if it is accepted as unlikely that any sponsored student would do that in practice, it should not be forgotten that sponsoring schools’ welfare responsibilities continue throughout the time students remain in the UK, whether or not it is term-time and the students are actually in their care. With this in mind, now may be the opportune moment for guardianship organisations and schools alike to consider reviewing their practices. Guardianship organisations might investigate accreditation with AEGIS and schools may wish to do the same and/or consider validation by QegUK. Founded in 2016, QegUK differs from, and arguably complements, AEGIS by focusing on improving the practices of education providers (school, colleges, universities).  It offers a kite mark to member organisations covering the regulatory aspects of good international student provision but also covers pastoral issues such as how well students are enabled to integrate into their learning community.   At a time when Brexit is creating exceptional uncertainty, it is critical that the UK education system and its international offering is as prepared as it can be for life beyond EU membership. The IES provides clear reasons for optimism without forgetting to acknowledge the need to improve the way that international students are supported during their studies here.  Hopefully, our regulatory system will now address deficiencies regarding educational guardianship long recognised by self-created accreditation and validation organisations. Ideally it will do so without undermining what makes the UK such an attractive place to live and learn.
Kris Robbetts is a partner at leading education firm VWV. Kris can be contacted by calling 0117 314 5427 or emailing krobbetts@vwv.co.uk [post_title] => International Education Strategy – the impact on independent schools [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => international-education-strategy-the-impact-on-independent-schools [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-31 11:46:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-31 10:46:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://ie-today.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=18385 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 17092 [post_author] => 43 [post_date] => 2019-03-29 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-29 00:00:00 [post_content] => The police will, on occasion, request that a school release information about current or former pupils, parents, staff and volunteers for the purposes of an investigation. Often, this is perfectly acceptable but if the information being requested is personal data, then the GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018 is engaged and you need to ensure that the disclosure is lawful and you have documented why you consider this to be the case. What you need to do when you get a request from the police: 1. Are you satisfied that the request is genuine? In most cases, this will be obvious because of the context, but do be aware that you may get a request from an individual posing as a police officer.  Like with scams, it is important that you don’t take what you are told at face value. If you get an out-of-the-blue phone call, don’t be afraid to challenge the individual to give you more information.  Note your reasons why you believe this to be a genuine request. 2. Is it clear what is being requested? How specific is the request? Do you hold the information? Can you identify what is being asked for?  Again, don’t be afraid to go back and ask the police to be more specific, and consider explaining why you need this additional information. 3. Does the information requested contain special-category personal data or information concerning criminal convictions/offences? This will not necessarily affect whether or not you can disclose, but will affect your justification for the disclosure, so it is important to identify any special category, or criminal conviction/offence data that is being requested. 4. Do you know why the information is being requested? In order for you to proceed, you do need to understand why the information is being requested. You will not need to know all the details of the police’s investigation/case, and there may be aspects that you cannot know, but you need, in a nutshell, to understand whether the reason for the request is: a. Necessary for the prevention and detection of crime b. Necessary for the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

You might also like: Considering commercial contracts, with VWV


5. Record what, when and why When you have the information above, you can determine the appropriate legal basis for the decision. You should then keep a record of what you have disclosed, when and the legal basis. Whenever you make any disclosure of personal data, it must be fair, transparent and lawful. When the disclosure is made for the purposes of the prevention and detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, there is an exemption to the requirement that the disclosure be fair and transparent, if doing so would, in itself, prejudice the prevention and detection of crime. However, it still needs to be lawful, and so you still require a lawful basis for this disclosure. In most cases, the lawful basis that will apply here will either be that the disclosure is necessary for the performance of a public task, or necessary for a legitimate interest, where that legitimate interest overrides the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual about whom the disclosure is being made. If special category data, or criminal conviction/offence data, is involved you need a condition for processing. The relevant condition will be one of the conditions under the ‘substantial public interest’ umbrella. For example, the substantial public interest in the prevention or detection of an unlawful act. A school should also give some thought to its transparency obligations under the GDPR. In some cases, it may be appropriate to seek the views of individuals before sharing their personal data with the police. However, in many cases this will be inappropriate, both for practical and legal reasons. For example, a school should not do anything which would ‘tip-off’ possible suspects in a police investigation. In any event, the school should not contact individuals unless the police have confirmed they have no objection to this. Mentioning this use (or type of use) of personal data in your privacy notices will also assist with the transparency obligations. Transparency does not mean that you have to seek the consent of the individual.     The police will often provide a form setting out why they need the information. The form should also cover the above points (for example, the legal basis relied on).  A school should ask for a copy of this form if it has not been provided. This was previously known as a ‘Section 29 Form’ under the pre-GDPR data protection legislation.  Occasionally, the police may request information because there is a genuine emergency, such as likely risk of serious harm to a pupil. Assuming the school is satisfied as to the identity of the police officer making the request, the priority should be to assist the police without delay rather than be overly concerned with which legal basis is being relied on.   A note on policies  Privacy notices are referenced above. These are also known as privacy policies and fair processing notices, and means the document that you use to meet your obligation to tell people what information you have about them, and what you are doing with it. As mentioned above, it is worth checking this use is included. When relying on the substantial public interest condition for disclosure of special category personal data as set out above, you would usually have to have in place a specific policy which sets out the procedures you have in place to secure compliance with the general data protection principles, and your policies on retention and erasure of the information. This is known as an ‘Appropriate Policy Document’ and applies when you are using a number of the substantial public interest conditions to justify a particular use. You do not need one of these when you are disclosing to the police in reliance on the ‘prevention or detection of an unlawful act’ condition but may need one in other circumstances. If you are satisfied that you have a reasonable request for information from the police for the disclosure of personal data, you will likely be able to release this information. Schools should also give some thought to the context of the police’s request, for example, if a request concerned an allegation of historic abuse at the school then there would likely be significant legal and reputational issues beyond data protection considerations.
Vicki Bowles is a senior associate at leading education law firm VWV. Vicki can be contacted on 0117 314 5672 or at vbowles@vwv.co.uk. VWVʼs online compliance management solution My OnStream provides GDPR data protection and information security e-learning for all your staff so they are aware of what is expected of them. It also tracks and manages staff progress for you and provides real-time reporting. Please consider subscribing to  My OnStream; find out more at mos.vwv.co.uk and book a free demo.
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Schools are likely to be reviewing their approach to combatting financial crime in the light of the renewed focus on anti-money laundering, announced recently as part of the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy. It is timely therefore to consider the role a school has to play in this issue and how it can best meet its responsibilities and protect itself and its staff.

What is money laundering?

Myth

Money laundering is a term which in popular myth derives from organised crime’s association with ‘laundromats’ (laundrettes) in the early part of the 20th century in the USA. These cash businesses, provided an easy way of introducing cash earned from criminal enterprise into the legitimate economy by mixing it with, and thereby passing it off as, turnover.

In more recent popular culture there is the similarly literal Breaking Bad portrayal of money laundering, where criminal funds were ‘cleaned’ through a car wash business in the same way. These portrayals capture the imagination and are accurate to a point, but they also simplify a complex issue which in so doing may belie its scale and complexity.

The National Crime Agency estimates that the impact of money laundering in the UK is likely to be in the hundreds of billions of pounds, which also enables a variety of other serious crimes from fraud and corruption, to terrorism and drug and arms trafficking. It is no exaggeration therefore to suggest that it is a significant and pervasive problem.

Fact

A far cry from the myths of popular culture, the UK definition of money laundering set out in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) is actually incredibly broad, spanning everything from facilitating (directly or indirectly) the movement of criminal property by whatever means, to simply handling it. The net is cast wider still by defining criminal property as property constituting “a person’s benefit from criminal conduct… (in whole or in part and whether directly or indirectly)”.

Consequently, receiving money from a person who has committed a tax evasion offence, irrespective of their wealth from legitimate sources, could well fall within the POCA definition of money laundering.

How does this concern schools?

The POCA definition of money laundering is at the centre of our anti-money laundering regime which broadly establishes two levels of regulation for organisations. There are high-risk businesses who are in the regulated sector, such as financial services companies, accountants, lawyers and estate agents, and those outside of the regulated sector, which includes schools, however they are constituted.

Regulated businesses are subject to a prescriptive regime which mandates how relevant organisations are required to address money laundering. Failure to adhere to this regime in many instances is a criminal offence. Schools, as with other organisations outside of the regulated sector, have greater freedom over how they manage this issue, which will depend on how high they perceive the risk to be in their particular organisation. This does not, however, exempt them from having to deal with the problem because directors, governors and trustees, all have legal duties to their organisation and stakeholders which VWV believes calls for a risk assessment of operations and the implementation of suitable risk-based procedures to help tackle financial crime.

It may sound esoteric but good governance, whilst not a criminal matter, is underpinned by legal and regulatory obligations which have to be met and the reputational damage to any organisation which is found to have unwittingly assisted criminal enterprise, is likely to be significant.

Schools, as with other organisations outside of the regulated sector, have greater freedom over how they manage this issue, which will depend on how high they perceive the risk to be in their particular organisation

Reputational risk

Unlike many organisations outside of the regulated sector, some schools may be particularly at risk of being targeted by criminals. Recently, and not for the first time, it was suggested by security minister Ben Wallace MP that a private education along with prestige cars and football clubs are likely to be attractive purchases for criminals. This is stating the obvious but the important message here is that schools are thought to have an important part to play in addressing this issue and are likely to be under greater scrutiny concerning their dealings with fee payers and donors in the future.

Risk of criminal sanction

Aside from issues of good governance and reputation protection, it is also worth noting that schools and their staff are actually able themselves to commit criminal offences related to money laundering, bribery and terrorism, including the handling of criminal property and the facilitation of money laundering and tax evasion. These are variously individual and corporate offences, and some are liable upon conviction to significant fines and terms of imprisonment.

Perhaps the most likely offences to be committed by school staff are those under sections 328 and 329 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), which, broadly, prohibit the handling of criminal property (329), and the facilitation of money laundering (328). A section 328 or 329 offence could, for example, be committed by accepting a payment for fees or a donation (if you are a charity) at a time when you suspect that the money may be the proceeds of criminal activity.

Whilst the commission of these offences entails criminal intent, ignorance of the law is no defence, and intent can be established simply by demonstrating that the individual in question suspected that the money was not from legitimate sources and proceeded with the transaction anyway. It is worth bearing in mind that ‘suspicion’ does not require there to be any specific evidence, just a more than fanciful possibility that something is true.

There are specific defences available to schools in respect of these offences. For example, if you have received money which turns out to be criminal proceeds as payment for school fees, there is likely to be a specific defence available under section 329 POCA to a handling offence. However, if you received the money at a time when there were grounds to suspect it was criminal property, it is likely that a criminal facilitation offence will have been committed instead.

A school can and should make an authorised disclosure to a relevant authority (which includes a Suspicious Activity Report to the NCA) and if it does so and waits for clearance to proceed before accepting the money, it will have a full defence to any section 328 POCA offence. However, these are limited and narrow protections which rely on the awareness of your staff to be of any value. It is also noteworthy that National Crime Agency statistics suggest that fewer than 10 of the 462,000 Suspicious Activity Reports that it received last year were from schools.

VWV suggests that schools should ask themselves if they are confident that their frontline staff would act upon a suspicion. If the answer is no, VWV says that you may be doing your organisation and staff a disservice if you do not provide a clear policy and training on these issues.

What should we do?

VWV believes that effective financial risk management calls for the identification of the key risks for your particular school, then the implementation of clear and appropriate risk-based policies and procedures, and staff training on their application and implementation. 

Schools are advised to operate a credit control policy to ensure consistent practice in respect of issues such as taking cash payments and payments from third parties as a minimum. This can be supplemented by a Combatting Financial Crime Policy which provides more detail about the school’s approach to identifying and managing these risks which is likely to cover appropriate customer/donor due diligence and clear guidelines on internal and external reporting. Schools should also review their contracts with parents and suppliers to ensure that they are compatible with their particular approach to managing financial risk.

VWV believes that these simple measures will not only protect your staff and organisation, they will also facilitate the provision of timely and sometimes crucial intelligence to our enforcement agencies to assist with the fight against organised crime.

James Garside is a senior associate at leading education law firm VWV. James can be contacted on 0117 314 5639 or at jgarside@vwv.co.uk.


VWV's previous legal column: GDPR–what have we learnt?
  [post_title] => Financial risk management [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => financial-risk-management [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-18 17:03:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-18 17:03:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://ie-today.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=16881 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16243 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-01-26 00:00:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-26 00:00:46 [post_content] => At VWV, we look at the key data protection issues we have been advising schools on since the new data protection regime came into force in May. Photographs We are often asked whether consent should be sought before taking and using photographs. The answer will often turn on how privacy-intrusive the photograph (or its use) is. For example, a photograph featured on the front cover of a school’s prospectus will likely require consent but not usually if the photo was being used on an internal display at the school. NB – if consent is not sought a school should still be transparent about its practices so that individuals have an opportunity to object. Privacy notices are essential We are finding that a lot of schools have not yet put in place compliant privacy notices. The purpose of the privacy notice is to set out how the school uses personal information. Not only is the provision of privacy notice information a legal requirement, but schools are also finding they are useful in relation to disputes. For example, a parent with an ongoing dispute may seek to argue that the school has breached its data protection obligations through not being transparent regarding how the parent’s data is used, as an additional strand to the complaint. If the school can show that what the parent has complained about is covered in the privacy notice, then this will often go a long way to rebutting the alleged non-compliance. Data breaches – getting the essentials right A number of schools have fallen victim to cyber attacks. These range from phishing emails, through to remote attacks made against the school’s network and IT infrastructure. We have found that attacks are often successful through schools failing to provide essential training to staff or failing to take basic steps to secure the school’s network. Schools should therefore ensure that they have done enough to protect their systems from attack. The GDPR contains explicit obligations around information security, for example, in relation to documentation, encryption, back-ups, and ongoing testing and assessment – schools should have regard to these in particular.
Not only is the provision of privacy notice information a legal requirement, but schools are also finding they are useful in relation to disputes
Subject access requests aren’t getting any easier Subject access requests (SARs) remain by far the most common type of request made against a school, despite the abundance of new rights granted under GDPR. Of particular note is that the exemption which allowed a school to withhold third-party information (i.e. where third-party data is mixed with the requester’s) under an SAR – this no longer applies if the third party is ‘a teacher or other employee at the school’. This is a significant change which makes it more difficult to lawfully withhold staff information, for example, in circumstances where a school wanted to withhold the identity of a whistleblower. However, this is not to say that third-party staff data must necessarily be disclosed in all cases, in some situations there may be alternative exemptions which would be applicable. Alumni relations A school will often use the same alumni database as its alumni society. In these circumstances, it is not always clear who ‘owns’ the data – either the school or the society (or to use data protection terminology, who the data controller is). That the school may physically control the database is not determinative. A risk is that the society argues that it, and not the school, is the controller, and if the society is right then the school would have no right to use the data for its own purposes. A data-sharing agreement between the school and the society can help to regularise the relationship. An agreement should, in particular, make it clear that the school is a controller of the data (if indeed this is the case) to prevent any dispute further down the line. Often these agreements provide that both the school and the society are controllers. Case study How would you respond if you received this letter from your school’s alumni society? Dear Director of Development, As you know I am the Chair of Blueacre School Alumni Society (the BSAS). It has come to my attention that the school has been using the BSAS alumni database to send out school marketing communications. Not only is this practice a breach of data protection law (you need consent for this) but it is also in breach of our longstanding arrangement that the school is only entitled to use the BSAS database to send out communications on behalf of BSAS and not from the school’s own purposes. It is clear from my review of the correspondence that the school has been sending out letters and emails about school events and school fundraising since at least 2008.  I expect your written confirmation that these practices will stop. I have today written to the ICO as I expect they will have something to say about this as well. Yours sincerely, BSAS Chair on behalf of the BSAS Committee How should the school respond? Points to consider: ● There may well be a wider context which has caused a deterioration in the relationship and this communication could be the latest in a long line from the BSAS on a variety of topics. As such, addressing any wider issues may also assist with regards to the BSAS’ concerns regarding data protection. ● At the core of BSAS’ position is that it, rather than the school, ‘owns’ the alumni database and that it is the controller. Whether this is indeed the case will depend on a number of factors, for example, the history of the database, what alumni have been told and the detail of the ‘longstanding arrangement’ the BSAS refer to above. It may be helpful to look through the history of the school’s and the BSAS’ interaction with alumni. For example, if previous communications to alumni have always made it clear that both the school and the BSAS will use alumni personal data for their own respective purposes, then this may assist the school rebut the arguments raised by the BSAS. ● The BSAS have also claimed that the school is in breach of the GDPR because the school did not obtain consent before contacting alumni for school-related purposes. One of the more popular ‘GDPR myths’ is that consent is required for all alumni communications. This is patently not the case although development-related emails sent to alumni will often require consent. ● As noted above, a data-sharing agreement would help address some of the data protection concerns and would also help prevent the BSAS from seeking to raise this issue again in future. As a further (longer-term) step, the school could (with the society’s agreement) seek to bring the society ‘in-house’. This could, for example, involve transferring the society’s assets to the school and making its activities the responsibility of a committee of the governing body of the school. This is something which a number of schools are considering and it does have a number of significant legal and practical advantages. This may also be in the interests of the society members, particularly if the society is constituted as an unincorporated members association as members of unincorporated associations can be personally liable. VWV’s online compliance-management solution My OnStream provides GDPR data protection and GDPR information security e-learning for all your staff so they are aware of what is expected of them. It also tracks and manages staff progress for you and provides real-time reporting. Please consider subscribing to My OnStream. Find out more at mos.vwv.co.uk and book a free online demo. Andrew Gallie and Claire Hall are in the data protection team at leading education law firm VWV. Andrew can be contacted on 0117 314 5623 or at agallie@vwv.co.uk. Claire can be contacted on 0117 314 5279 or at chall@vwv.co.uk. [post_title] => GDPR seven months on: what have we learnt? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => gdpr-seven-months-on-what-have-we-learnt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-23 17:24:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-23 17:24:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://ie-today.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=16243 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 4 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18385 [post_author] => 43 [post_date] => 2019-06-10 00:00:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-09 23:00:13 [post_content] => The Department for Education (DfE) and Department for International Trade (DIT) have launched a new International Education Strategy (IES) outlining plans to increase student numbers and income generated from international education. Building on the broader Export Strategy published in August 2018, the IES aims to consolidate the strengths in the UK’s education offering whilst addressing the challenges believed to prevent it from reaching its full potential, including, of course, Brexit. Across 23 action points, the IES sets out an ambitious vision impacting on the full spectrum of education sub-sectors from early years through to higher education and aiming to increase the annual value of education exports to £35bn by 2030 (in 2016, it was £20bn). At the same time, it is expected that new National Minimum Standards (NMS) for boarding will be issued in 2019, creating a regulatory requirement for schools to have adequate education guardianship arrangements in place and making them subject to regular inspection. The IES places international education firmly back in the spotlight and suggests there is likely to be renewed interest and increased scrutiny on the arrangements made for international students in the UK. We look at the impact this is likely to have on key stakeholders and, in particular, on the interplay between independent schools registered as Tier 4 sponsors and guardianship organisations.  What will this mean for schools? Our schools, which are singled out in the IES for providing international benchmarks for safeguarding and choice, constitute an important aspect of the UK’s international education profile.  ISC research reported that in 2017 international schools educated around 4.5 million students around the world, a figure projected to double within the next decade, with the popularity of UK curricula delivered in English remaining strong. In 2018, UK independent schools opened more overseas branches than during the previous 20 years and demand for UK schools abroad continues to grow.  The IES seeks to support the ambition and growth of the sector through a variety of measures, including the DIT encouraging independent schools to access international opportunities through the use and provision of exports data, connecting providers with investors and working with key sector bodies to produce information guides for schools interested in developing an international presence.  Perhaps even more significantly, IES Action 13 states that the DfE and DIT will coordinate efforts across government and key sector bodies to encourage independent schools to have a better understanding of guardianship arrangements and the role of accreditation bodies.  Best learning will be gathered from schools who already do this well. Current thinking is that this will result in new NMS in 2019, which will place greater obligations on schools to be proactive in ensuring that guardianship arrangements are acceptable. For those who have been lobbying for the regulation of educational guardianship, these developments represent the culmination of years of work and one of the most welcome changes in the sector for some time.  It was concern about the lack of any formal regulation of educational guardianship and the consequent risks this creates for international students at school in the UK that led, back in 1994, a small group of guardianship organisations and independent schools to create the first accreditation body for guardianship – the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS).   A registered charity, AEGIS now counts 44 guardianship organisations and 72 independent schools as members. Affiliated with the Boarding Schools’ Association since 2018, AEGIS continues to operate its own accreditation framework and accreditation process and to promote best practice in the sector through conferences and training courses. Despite this, the number of international students who received educational guardianship services from an AEGIS-accredited provider remains low.  In 2018, there were just over 28,500 non-British students with parents residing overseas. Of those students, only around 5,000 (17.5%) of them had an AEGIS-accredited educational guardian. It is these statistics that help explain why the IES and new NMS are welcome news to anyone concerned by the potential vulnerability of international students and the legal and regulatory risks being taken by so many schools. New NMS for boarding    Whilst it is difficult to know exactly what the new NMS will look like, it is easy to identify issues that they will hopefully address. One is the current lack of any requirement for international students to be provided with independent educational guardianship.  This is already a condition of AEGIS accreditation and regarded as best practice in order to ensure that students have an educational guardian able to act as their unconflicted advocate, but it is not widespread. As a result, it is still common for schools to allow, or even encourage, members of their own staff to act as educational guardians (and also homestay provider) for students, blurring the important distinction between ‘home’ and ‘school’ and potentially making it impossible for them to feel supported or even able to complain.  Another is clarity on the number of children who are permitted to reside in a homestay at any given time. If experiencing authentic family life within the UK is among the key purposes of a successful homestay arrangement, it makes sense that the number of international students within any one setting be limited.  Historically, that limit has been set informally at three, probably because the Children Act 1989 imposes a cap on how many children may be privately fostered in one household (known as the ‘usual fostering limit’) at that number such that hosting more may require registration as a children’s home. Despite this, there is a reported tendency for unaccredited educational guardians to place as many students as possible in each homestay and for some schools to be disinterested in, or even entirely unaware of, whether or not this is the case.
UK international schools currently educate around 4.5 million students around the world, a figure projected to double within the next decade
From a general welfare perspective this sort of practice is troubling, but it may also be a compliance breach where the school in question is a Tier 4 sponsor and therefore subject to specific Home Office obligations. It is a Tier 4 requirement that any student living in a homestay as part of a private fostering arrangement (i.e. one for 28 consecutive days or more) is not residing in accommodation ‘being operated as a commercial enterprise like a hotel or youth hostel’.  Even if it is accepted as unlikely that any sponsored student would do that in practice, it should not be forgotten that sponsoring schools’ welfare responsibilities continue throughout the time students remain in the UK, whether or not it is term-time and the students are actually in their care. With this in mind, now may be the opportune moment for guardianship organisations and schools alike to consider reviewing their practices. Guardianship organisations might investigate accreditation with AEGIS and schools may wish to do the same and/or consider validation by QegUK. Founded in 2016, QegUK differs from, and arguably complements, AEGIS by focusing on improving the practices of education providers (school, colleges, universities).  It offers a kite mark to member organisations covering the regulatory aspects of good international student provision but also covers pastoral issues such as how well students are enabled to integrate into their learning community.   At a time when Brexit is creating exceptional uncertainty, it is critical that the UK education system and its international offering is as prepared as it can be for life beyond EU membership. The IES provides clear reasons for optimism without forgetting to acknowledge the need to improve the way that international students are supported during their studies here.  Hopefully, our regulatory system will now address deficiencies regarding educational guardianship long recognised by self-created accreditation and validation organisations. Ideally it will do so without undermining what makes the UK such an attractive place to live and learn.
Kris Robbetts is a partner at leading education firm VWV. Kris can be contacted by calling 0117 314 5427 or emailing krobbetts@vwv.co.uk [post_title] => International Education Strategy – the impact on independent schools [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => international-education-strategy-the-impact-on-independent-schools [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-31 11:46:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-31 10:46:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://ie-today.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=18385 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 4 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 55e568965b3284c05ddf366004fb4355 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
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