Homestay Host Information Page2023-12-20T19:12:10+00:00

Becoming a Homestay Host

For many parents and students, their allocated host family is definitely the most important thing for us to get right. We have students from many different nationalities and of all age groups so we are always looking for different types of host families. Some of our families have children at home, others are families who love animals and have pets and we also have some that don’t. Other families have older children who may have left home and who would like to offer their spare room. There is no fixed formula for how to be a good host family but we do know that our host families do a great job and our students really enjoy staying with them. Becoming a host family is very rewarding.

Student welfare is our primary concern, and with that in mind we are very selective when choosing which host families we work with and those we don’t. International students choose to stay in a family home instead of a student residence because they want to experience a friendly English family atmosphere, to be immersed in English culture and to improve their English speaking ability by mixing and interacting with the family they are staying with. They are not simply looking for a room in a house.

Our host families always tell us what a great experience it is for their whole family. Conversations around the dinner table reach far and wide and cover many topics including cultural differences, food, family life and what school is like here. We are always told by our students and host families that great memories are created and they stay in touch with each other for years and years. A few of our host families have also even created such great friendships that they have visited students and their families in their home towns and cities.

Useful Forms

General Information

Our students attend school here at our school in Bicclescombe park Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. They have three scheduled evening activities a week and if they have come as part of a large group, they will occasionally go for an extra day trip on a Saturday with their group leaders. Students age from 6-17; you can specify the age range and gender that suits you and your family. Students arrive on a Saturday and are invited to a welcome talk at the school on a Sunday morning at 11:30 AM. Their time here range from one week – four weeks, with a minimum of two weeks in July and August.


Weekends are the time to spend with your student and make them feel like one of your family. We refer to Sunday as a “family day” and we expect students to spend this day with their hosts. Whatever you would usually do on a Sunday, we ask you include your students. I.e., going for a dog walk, family movie time/board games etc. You don’t have to do anything special, just as long as they are included. Students will have their own spending money.

DBS Checks & Home Safety

All permanent residents and those residing in the property over any hosting period of the homestay household will be required to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check with a satisfactory outcome.  For additional safeguarding, you will require to provide the names of two referees who can fill out a short form for your suitability to host students.

To check the initial and continued suitability of the accommodation, the Accommodation Manager will visit the home when a new host is recruited and then every two years. Assessments will be recorded, and action taken on any concerns identified. Hosts will be required to provide a gas safety certificate that has been renewed annually.


Payments by bank transfer are made by the end of the first week of student arrival. Usually, money should have reached your account by the Friday of the first week.

if your student stays for more than 4 weeks, payments are done every two weeks.

Hosts can have a maximum of four students at one time. Some students have specific dietary needs and allergies. You can also decide if you wish to cater for these or not. If you do then you will receive an extra payment to compensate for needing to buy special food/ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

A safe home environment – free of obvious significant health and safety hazards (e.g. dangerous electrical fittings, gas appliances or fire risks). A clean home environment and bedroom with a satisfactory level of decoration, lighting and furnishings. A suitable bed (not a futon, camp bed or children’s sized bunk beds). Adequate storage facilities. This can include and is not limited to: drawers and hanging space for clothes and storage for suitcases and/or bags. A quiet space for studying. This can include a desk in the student’s bedroom or a room with an adequate table that is separate from the host family’s own bedrooms. Adequate bathroom facilities to include a shower (or shower over a bath). Adequate heating and lighting. Providing overhead lights and lamps (if necessary). Temperature should be between 19°C and 24°C. A home where English is the spoken language when students are present. Treatment of the student(s) as a full member of the household, eating together and sharing the common living areas.

A homestay provider is legally required to have a fire risk assessment to comply with British Council regulations. This must be updated every year. A current gas safety certificate must be in place in order to allocate a student to the homestay. A copy must be provided demonstrate that you are compliant. A new certificate should be presented to Country Cousins annually to maintain compliance.

Yes. As long as they have their own bed and enough floor space and storage facilities. Students must only share a room with another student of a similar age and gender. Students under 18 must only share with another student under 18. The room must not be shared with any member of the homestay family. No more than four students in total may be accommodated in the homestay. This is a British Council regulation. If the homestay host accommodates students from another organisation at the same time, the host must inform Country Cousins and accommodate students of different nationalities.

Yes. Regular laundering is necessary of students clothing and towels as well as clean and comfortable bedding that is in good condition.

Healthy, safely prepared meals must be provided to students throughout their stay.

Every morning the host family is to provide a breakfast; typically, this consisting of cereal, toast and a drink.

During the week, a packed lunch should be offered. Some lunchtimes (weather permitting!) there is a barbeque at school which students prefer. Food can also be purchased by students from The Mill in Bicclescombe Park and drinks and snacks from the school vending machines. It is important to ask the student if they would like a lunch provided or not – to avoid unnecessary waste. Students must NOT go home for lunch.

Every evening, a sufficient, well-balanced meal must be provided and served at 6pm(ish). This is to allow enough time for the student to be ready for their evening activity program.

Some students have specific dietary needs and allergies. Hosts can also decide if they wish to cater for these or not. If so, an extra payment is received to compensate for needing to buy special food/ingredients.

During the week there are three evening social activities.  We have a set of curfew times, which apply every night. All students have a copy, as do the host families.

Up to 11 years old:  evening activities only, must have full supervision at all times

11 & 12 years old:    21:00

13 & 14 years old:   21:30

15 & 16 years old:   22:00

17-year olds:           22:30

These curfew times are non-negotiable and are for the student’s safety and wellbeing.

There must be access for students to enter and leave the home at suitable times. Keys can be provided to students if possible/necessary.

A safeguarding concern may be raised if you have an overnight visitor over the age of 18. A risk assessment should be undertaken ensuring that the visitor is not left alone with the student during their stay. You can have visitors to your home but a family member with an approved DBS certificate must be present at all times.

If a student wishes to change their host family during their stay due to a host discrepancy, Country Cousins reserve the right to request any monies paid to the host upfront to be returned.

If a student wished to change their host family with no fault lying with the host, the student’s parents will be required to pay for the change in accommodation. In this instance any monies paid to the host is not due to be returned.

Students need to be in school Monday to Friday by 8.45am ready to start their lessons at 9am. They will remain the responsibility of the school staff until 5pm. During the week there are three evening social activities from 19.30-9pm.  On the evenings there are no activities planned we encourage students to spend the evening with the family but if they would like to go out with friends we have a set of curfew times, which apply every night. All students have a copy.

Some students have leader organised activities planned for Saturdays. For those that do not – Saturdays are the students “free time”. Sunday is “family day”, and students should spend the day with you. Not all students will take this opportunity to spend time with you and your family, but at least you have given them the option. If you have a prior engagement on a Sunday, and you have students staying with you then you will need to take them with you or arrange alternative supervision for them during your absence. For new arrivals, on Sunday at 10am there will be an induction meeting at Channel School. Host families must show their student the way to the school or the bus route they should take each day. At this meeting the students will be shown around so that they know what to do on Monday. Hosts are welcome to stay for the meeting, go back home or wait in The Mill but must return to collect the student when it finishes at approximately 11am.

Some students LOVE pets – others may not. Students from some other countries are not always as comfortable with family pets as the average British person is, and your student may be afraid of your pet, at least in the first instance. Pets should NOT be allowed near the table at mealtimes, to jump up on surfaces where food is prepared or to eat from the same dishes as the family. Pets should not be allowed in the students bedrooms.

Any vehicle owned by the host must be insured and have a valid MOT certificate in order to be able to transport students. All passengers must wear a seatbelt.

We ask that you collect your student on their arrival and that you drop them off on their departure day unless you have made other arrangements. Departure days and times will be communicated with you in advance. Up on arrival a member of staff from Country Cousins will introduce you to your student. Should the arrival be delayed, hosts will be kept informed by telephone and social media. Arrivals are a great time to meet other hosts.

Our local medical centre will register them as a temporary patient over the phone. A doctor will talk with either the student, group leader, someone from Country Cousins or the host family (depending who is with the patient and how well they speak English). The doctor will make a decision whether they need to be seen or not, either in the practice, by home visit or admittance to hospital.

In case of a medical emergency please call 111 or 999. Country Cousins emergency phone is available 24 hours a day by calling 01271863824. Out of office hours the number will divert to a member of the Safeguarding Team on duty. The emergency telephone number is to be used for serious emergencies that cannot wait for the office to re-open. Please do not use this telephone number for hosting enquiries. Most students will have a group leader who has travelled with them and can also be contacted in an emergency. They can speak to your student in their own language and visit your home if necessary. Group leader details will be on the student arrival documentation.

Host families must follow current UK Government guidelines. If you get COVID-19, a high temperature or do not feel well enough to carry out normal activities, while a student is staying in your home, you should avoid contact until you no longer feel unwell. If a student gets COVID-19 whilst in your home they must self isolate. If they are unable to travel home, their travel insurance will pay for alternative accommodation until it is safe for them to do so.


My children learned a lot about different cultures and nationalities. It was so lovely to see them playing together in the garden in the evenings.

Mrs Smith

We enjoy meeting children from other countries.

Mr and Mrs James

I stay in touch with many of my students. It’s a lovely way to make new friends, both with the students and their families and other host families

Mrs Johnson

Hosting makes us get out and do more. I love the family days.

Mr and Mrs Beech

I was able to visit my family in Australia this year thanks to the money I earned from hosting. It really adds up!

Ms Castle
Go to Top