Student & Staff Welfare 

The safety and welfare of our students is a top priority for us. 

Our policies, procedures and assessments demonstrate some of the ways in which we care for our visiting students and also our staff team.  Here are also an example of how we aim to keep our global young travellers safe in the UK.

  • 24 hr emergency telephone number for students, their parents and group leaders.
  • Handbook covering all aspects of the programme distributed in advance to students and group leaders.
  • Qualified First Aiders on site at each school and residence.
  • Thorough student and group leader inductions upon arrival, which outline key safety and welfare elements of the programme.
  • Regular fire drills carried out at the school and accommodation.
  • Fully DBS checked staff, including our drivers.
  • A rigorous job application process for all staff members, and regular Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training.
  • Compulsory safeguarding training for all of our staff members before they commence employment.
  • School policies regarding to safety, welfare and safeguarding followed by all staff and group leaders, and available upon request.
  • Dedicated staff members assigned to students travelling without a group leader.
  • Regular formal and informal student feedback opportunities throughout their programme, to ensure that they are having a positive experience.
  • All specialist diets/preferences can be catered for.

*We recommend that all students take out their own travel and medical insurance.

Alternatively Contact Us about our own student travel and medical insurance policy which is available for purchase, week-by-week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of our frequently asked questions and important information you may need. If you can’t find the answer to your question below, please feel free to email us at any time at


The weather in the UK can change very quickly, so a variety of clothes for hot and wet days is a good idea.

Have a look at our recommended packing list!

And don’t forget: towels are provided in homestay accommodation, but not in the residences! So please bring these with you.

This is up to you, and depends on your normal spending habits. Whilst you are with us, all entrance fees and travel to the activities on the social programme are included in the course fee.

If you want to buy souvenirs, snacks, and do some shopping, then about £50 per week should be enough. We don’t recommend travelling with lots of cash!

If you are from the European Union you do not need a visa to study in the UK.

Students travelling from countries outside the EU will need to get a visa before travelling to the UK. Once you have booked and paid for your course, Oxford Spires will send you a letter of acceptance to take with you to your local embassy to apply for your visa.

To check if you need a UK visa visit:

Medical emergency treatment in the UK is free for everyone, however you may need to pay for an appointment with a general practitioner for less urgent issues.

Students from the EU should bring their European Health Insurance Card and we recommend that all students have their own medical insurance as a precaution. At an extra cost we can supply medical insurance. If you require this, then please let us know at the time of booking your course.

Please bring any medication that you need to take with you, and please inform us of any medical conditions, allergies or behavioural issues at the time of booking. There are trained first-aiders on-site during the school opening hours.

If you feel unwell you should speak to a member of staff or your teachers as soon as possible. Outside of school opening hours you should contact the Centre Manager, our emergency number on your wristband, or if it is an emergency, call 999.

If you have requested an airport transfer, you will be met in the international arrivals hall by a member of our team who usually will be with you during your stay with us.

When you come through customs, look out for a sign showing our Oxford Spires logo

We might ask you to wait in the airport if there are other students arriving shortly after you, but this will always be a reasonable length of time (usually not more than 90 minutes) and we will help you buy drinks and snacks if you are thirsty or hungry.

Then you will travel to your accommodation, you’ll check in and then have some time to unpack and settle in.

On departure we’ll get you to the airport at least three hours before your flight is due to leave, giving you plenty of time to check in.

During your stay we’ll let you know what time to be ready to be collected from your accommodation.

Oxford Spires Summer Schools take place in many different locations! These include Oxford, Cheltenham, Cambridge, and Banbury!

For details on each location, please take a look at our course pages.

Staying with a host family is a great way to experience British life and practice your English in a family setting. Host families can be of all different sizes and backgrounds; some might have children and pets, and some might have grown children who have left home. All of the families will give you a warm welcome, make sure you are comfortable, and invite you to join in their family life!

Homestay accommodation: Oxford
Our host families are carefully selected and many of them have been working with us for many years. They are located in the Cowley, Kidlington, Yarnton, Begbroke, Woodstock and Headington suburbs, a 15-30 minute bus journey from school and the city centre.

Our host family accommodation in Oxford is organised by a small agency local to Oxford.

Homestay accommodation: Cheltenham
All host families are inspected regularly and selected according to our and British Council standards and regulations. The host families in Cheltenham will drop you at school each morning (or in some cases you might walk if you are near enough!) and collect you again at the end of the day.

Our host family accommodation in Cheltenham is organised by a small agency local to Cheltenham.

When you arrive you will be given a welcome pack with a letter inside. This letter gives you the details of your host family (name, address, telephone numbers).

In Oxford
Your welcome letter also gives you detailed instructions of how to get to school by public transport. Follow these directions carefully, and ask your host family on the first evening if you have any doubts.

On the first evening or first morning they will show you the nearest bus stop. Make sure you have understood where to get off the bus, and ask the driver if you are not sure. Bring your letter with you as it also shows the address of the school.

In Cheltenham
Your host family will either drive you to school or walk with you if their home is near the school. They will come and collect you at the end of the day as well, either in their car or on foot.

You will also be allowed to join some evening activities during your stay, so your host family will bring you back to school after dinner on these days, and collect you again when the activity has finished.

The residences at all locations have rooms which are comfortable and functional. We have members of staff at the halls 24 hours a day for the duration of the summer school who are on-call to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable stay.

Each study location has its own residence with its own characteristics. Please take a look at the venues pages for more information.

All of the residences will have:

  • Wifi
  • A bed
  • A desk
  • A wardrobe
  • Bed linens provided and changed weekly
  • Weekly cleaning

Don’t forget to bring a towel, because they are not provided!

In residence
Self-service, coin-operated washing and drying machines are available at the residences. The cost is between £2-3 per load. Oxford Spires staff will help you if you need it!

In homestay
Your host family will do one load of laundry for you each week. Please ask the host when they are able to do this for you.

Our host families are carefully selected and many of them have been working with us for many years, via our trusted homestay agency. They are located in the Cowley, Kidlington, Yarnton, Begbroke, Woodstock and Headington suburbs, a 15-30 minute bus journey from school and the city centre.

Host families provide breakfast and an evening meal every day. During the week, hot lunches are provided by the school, and packed lunches are provided by the school on excursion days.

On your first day you will receive an induction to welcome you to the school.  The induction includes meeting points, rules, what to do in an emergency and an introduction to the staff.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to any of the staff!  This is a chance to let us know how you are doing and to report any problems or worries.

Classes are on average 12-13 students with a maximum limit of 15.

Excursions will take place on different days of the week depending on which study centre you are attending.

Please have a look at the course page for more information and a sample timetable!


Group Leaders

As a group leader, you will travel with your students to the UK and back again from their home country, and will have overall responsibility for many aspects of their welfare whilst studying with us.

In order to keep your students safe, happy and healthy during their stay with us, and to facilitate the smooth overall running of the centre, we request the following from you:

  • To monitor the well-being of your students at all times and to bring any issues to the Centre Manager as soon as possible.
  • To assist the Centre Manager in communicating with your students (providing translation as necessary) and support conversations regarding their welfare, behaviour and academic progress.
  • To follow the Oxford Spires International Safeguarding and Prevent policies (available to you in the Group Leader Handbook or on request from the Centre Manager).

  • To ensure that your students know what behaviour is expected of them (school rules can be found in the Group Leader Handbook and the Student Handbook), and that they have understood on and off-site safety procedures explained to them in the welcome presentation.
  • To ensure that your students have understood and adhere to being at the right place at the right time, for example attending lessons punctually and being on time for coaches.
  • To communicate with the Centre Manager effectively and to be contactable at all times in case of an emergency, even if you are not on-site with your students. Please give your Centre Manager your phone number when you arrive.

  • To actively supervise your student during on and off-site activities when requested.

  • To help your students keep an open mind during their experience in the UK. They will try new foods, make new friends, visit new places, and experience lots of new things during their time here. Sometimes this can be difficult for students when they are used to things being different back home. You can support us by encouraging your students to enjoy the unknown, to try new things, and to keep an open mind throughout their time here. 

It will depend on your specific programme as to whether you are required on site. You must check with the Centre Manager before going off site. If you are given approval to go off site, make sure you leave your contact details with the Centre Manager and any other members of relevant staff. Make sure you are contactable at all times.

There is no formal dress code for group leaders, however your clothes must be appropriate, smart and comfortable. Remember that you will be walking a lot during activities and trips, so comfortable shoes and clothing is a good idea.

The students must also wear appropriate clothing at all times. Whilst they do not have to be formally dressed, they should be dressed smartly and practically. They will also need to move around and be active on trips and activities, so sensible footwear and comfortable clothing is necessary.

Be aware that the weather in the UK can be unpredictable. Please ensure that both you and your
students bring waterproof coats and/ or umbrellas, as well as sufficient clothing to keep warm in cold weather.

This will depend on which centre you are attending. Please let us know in advance if you require access to a computer, and we will speak with you about making arrangements.

Yes, we can accommodate most special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free. Please send the full details of your (or your students’) requirements in advance so that we may prepare our staff and the kitchen staff or homestay hosts.

If you witness a problem with another student, immediately inform the relevant members of Oxford Spires staff. Who you speak to will depend on the type of problem; if it is a problem to do with class work or homework, you must inform a teacher. For most other problems, inform the Centre Manager, the Senior Activity Leader, or the Designated Safeguarding Officer.

Talk to the student, try to find out why they are feeling unhappy. Depending on the issue, you may need to talk to their teacher, the Senior Teacher, or if it is something more serious, you will need to contact the Centre Manager or the Designated Safeguarding Officer.

Medical emergency treatment in the UK is free for everyone, however you may need to pay for an appointment with a general practitioner for less urgent issues.

Students & Group Leaders from the EU should bring their European Health Insurance Card and we recommend that all students & group leaders have their own medical insurance as a precaution. At an extra cost we can supply medical insurance. If you require this, then please let us know at the time of booking your course.

Please pack any medication that you need, and please inform us of any medical conditions, allergies or behavioural issues at the time of booking.

There are trained first-aiders on-site during the school opening hours.

In the UK, we have certain laws in place to ensure the adequate protection of children. You may not need to know all of them, but the relevant ones are outlined here. Schools are obligated to follow them. We appreciate your co-operation with this.

Please remember this is particularly important not only for your students, but also because you may come into contact with other students who are not in your group.

As part of British safeguarding procedures, every adult who has a role involving responsibility for or substantial access to under 18s will have a police check (DBS). Each school will have at least one Designated Safeguarding and Prevent Officer.

Safeguarding includes all areas of the safety and welfare of your students including homesickness, bullying, general health and well-being, including that they are eating properly.

Your duties in terms of safeguarding:

  • We have a List of School Rules and Sanctions for students and staff to adhere to. This is information about what you can expect from the centre and their staff and what they expect of you and your students. Please find a copy in the Group Leader handbook.
  • One aspect of safeguarding is the health of your students. Please refer to the section on illness and medication in the Group Leader handbook for our policies on this.
  • Data protection is another important part of UK safeguarding law. As group leader, you will have access to sensitive information, such as the contact details for your students, host families and certain key staff. All of these details must be kept safe and are for your eyes only.
  • Taking photos of other students may be against safeguarding laws. You must ask the Centre Manager before photographing any student on site.
  • We must have the next of kin emergency contact names and details for each student in your group. If something happens to one of your students, the first person we will contact is you.
    However, in case you are unavailable, we must also have the contact details for the parents or guardians of your students. We will also ask for your next of kin details in the unlikely event that anything happens to you too. You must check with the Centre Manager at the beginning of the course to ensure that they have all of these details and that they are up to date.
  • Each centre has their own 24 hour emergency phone numbers for you to contact in case you need help or support. Please remember that parents will not be able to talk to you or their students on this phone; it is only for emergencies.
  • The UK law protects a number of minority groups so they cannot be discriminated against because of their sex, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, culture/nationality. We take these values very seriously and we will also uphold these values to protect students, staff, homestay hosts, and group leaders from any kind of discrimination. 

If you are worried about a problem relating to a safeguarding issue please speak to the Centre Manager.  If you do not wish to speak to the Centre Manager about this issue, please contact the Academic Manager.

In line with our Safeguarding Policy and in accordance with the British Council guidelines, we have a duty of care to protect our young learners, and because everyone who is 18 years old or above is considered an adult in the UK, we have certain rules that you must follow at Oxford Spires International:

  • Please do not use the student toilets. There are separate adult toilets which Oxford Spires staff will show you on the first day.
  • Outside the school (walking home, on the bus, free time in the city centre) do not socialise with students under 16 years old who are not in your group.
  • You cannot drink alcohol while you are a Group Leader at Oxford Spires International.
  • Oxford Spires will perform checks on all Group Leaders to ensure they are following these rules. If these rules are broken you may be asked to leave the school.

The Prevent Duty, or "Prevent" for short, is now a legal requirement in the UK. It is the first part in a larger government plan to try to stop extremism and terrorism, and tries to identify people who might be developing extremist values so they can be educated as to why this is not in keeping with British values.

Extremism is defined as: “Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values ….. And calls for the death of members of our armed forces whether in this country or overseas.”

Prevent is not: • Spying on students and staff • Trying to change someone’s culture • Stopping people from having opinions • Stopping students from having discussions about criminalising people

To fulfill our legal requirements we ensure that our students, staff, host families, suppliers and group leaders exemplify British values.

These include:

• Democracy • Rule of law • Individual liberty • Mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

It is your duty to remind your students of British law. We will talk to the students about these in the first days of their course, especially to make sure that students realise that there can be no discrimination against anybody. All staff, including Group Leaders, have a responsibility to report any ‘extreme’ comments to senior school staff.

You will receive a copy of your weekly activity and excursion timetable before arrival, which might still be subject to small changes.  When you arrive we will give you a finalised copy.

You will meet with a member of staff (usually the Centre Manager or the Senior Activity Leader) on a regular basis to discuss the activities programme, as well as any other issues regarding your group and their stay.

Child protection is a key issue for Oxford Spires International in ensuring that we keep our students safe.

All Oxford Spires staff, in addition to Group Leaders travelling with students, are required to obtain an Enhanced DBS disclosure (or the equivalent police check/criminal record check if the staff member or group leader lives in another country), which is the highest level of check required for positions that can involve caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults.

Please view our OSI Terms and Conditions for Groups



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