March 2022: supporting Ukrainian families as war continues

Monday March 28th, 2022

Welcome to your March issue. More than a month into the war in Ukraine, we’re focusing in this issue on the practical ways we can support all students during this difficult time.

Homes for Ukraine scheme

Visas for Ukrainians in the UK


Ukrainian nationals and their family members can apply for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine:

It’s free to apply to the scheme, which will enable Ukrainians to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.

You’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria. For example, you must be Ukrainian, or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national, who:

has been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine);

is currently outside the UK;

has a UK-based sponsor who is eligible for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Ukrainian international passport holders


If you have a valid Ukrainian international passport, you won’t need to attend an appointment in person as part of the application process (though you will need to submit your biometrics within 6 months of arriving in the UK – see more below). If you don’t hold a valid Ukrainian international passport (for example, you might have a Ukrainian domestic passport or ID card) you’ll need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) before you can travel to the UK.

Ukraine VACs are closed, but there is a temporary VAC for people applying for the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme in Rzeszow, Poland. Alternative VACs are operating in Budapest, Chisinau, Warsaw, Bucharest and Paris.

Finding a sponsor (more details for sponsors below)


The first phase of the Homes for Ukraine scheme requires individuals in the UK to ‘sponsor’ individual Ukrainians or families. That means every Ukrainian family applying to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme must be matched with a UK-based ‘sponsor’ who is eligible to provide a room before they can apply.

Once you’ve found a sponsor, you can complete the online application form with them. If you don’t know your sponsor, for example, you’ve connected over social media, your sponsor might prefer to complete the form themselves and may ask you for your details in order to do so.

You’ll both need to undergo safeguarding and security checks (as will all adults in the sponsor household) as well as provide evidence of your identity. Visit here to check eligibility criteria, details of documents required and how to upload them.

Travelling to the UK


Wait for your official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This confirms you can travel to the UK and will enable you to board a plane or other form of transport. Show your Ukrainian passport and permission letter to border officials on arrival in the UK. They’ll stamp your passport with a 6-month entry stamp, which is evidence of your right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.

Staying in the UK


You can stay in the UK for up to 3 years. But you’ll need to submit your biometrics (facial photograph and your fingerprints) within six months of arriving so you can be issued with a biometric residence permit (BRP) as evidence of your immigration status. Details of how to submit biometrics are yet to be confirmed, but it might be an online submission process or an in-person visit to an application centre.

Information for sponsors


To act as a sponsor, you need to have a spare room or self-contained accommodation to offer (a sofa in your sitting room is not appropriate). You need to be able to offer the accommodation for at least 6 months. You can continue beyond this, but if your circumstances change during the first 6 months, notify your local council so they can help guests to find alternative accommodation.

Before you sponsor, consider your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance arrangements. If you’re a homeowner, insurers have agreed there’s no need to contact your insurance company. But you should tell your mortgage company and, if you rent, you’ll need to let your landlord and insurer know.

To register your interest in becoming a sponsor (and if you haven’t yet identified a Ukrainian family to sponsor), fill in a short form here.

For full details about becoming a sponsor, visit here.

Schools’ support systems


Schools across the UK, and all over the world, are doing their utmost to support all students during this difficult, worrying time. As well as additional pastoral support and time allocated during lessons and assemblies to address students’ questions and concerns, school communities are offering their direct support for families fleeing Ukraine.

For example, UK families of students at King’s InterHigh, the UK’s leading online school, have offered to host Ukrainian families and support their applications under the Homes for Ukraine scheme as sponsors.

If you or anyone you know could benefit, do get in touch and we can arrange to match Ukrainian families with sponsors offering accommodation in the UK.

Talking to children about war

Ukrainian parents have shared their challenges. Some say it’s been a balancing act between telling children the truth and not scaring them too much. Many say their parenting styles have had to change to keep kids safe. No room for discussion – a time to get orders and act on them immediately. When there’s a siren, children as young as three need to know they have to run and hide. For children with additional challenges, such as autism and sensory sensitivity, the unpredictability and loud noises of war can be overwhelming. Many Ukrainian parents agree that when children are old enough to understand, telling them the truth about what’s happening is important. They can see their parents are nervous and they can sense the atmosphere of fear. But the parenting challenges for those who have left Ukraine don’t stop there. Fathers have accompanied their families part of the way to safety, but then must turn back to fight. How can you answer questions about a father’s safety in the face of such uncertainty? Ukraine schools and nurseries have kept in touch with families wherever possible via apps and social media, offering support and tutorials on how to talk to children about the situation. Many parents have found encouraging their children to draw has helped them express how they feel.

You can hear direct from Ukrainian parents here. The BBC has also published some useful advice to help children everywhere come to terms with what’s happening, read it here.

Educational opportunities in the UK

When Ukrainian children arrive in the UK, it’s important they can get the support they need to access education as soon as possible. As the Department for Education announces its intention to fast-track the registration of Ukrainian teachers so they can start work sooner on arrival in the UK, we’ve selected a few upcoming courses that could enable Ukrainian children and young people to continue their education in a safe, supportive environment when they get here. Contact us for more details on these or any other opportunities.

School in Worcestershire


Experience school life in the UK


Students aged 14 to 18 can get a taste for boarding school life in the UK, make friends and improve their English with this flexible course. You can start on any Sunday in term time and extend your stay from two weeks to a full term. Everyone’s timetable is tailored to their individual needs, with class sizes averaging seven pupils. All students can make full use of college facilities and enjoy excursions alongside sport, activities and academic studies.

Pre-sessional courses


Preparatory courses designed to help students adjust to living and studying in the UK. They combine English language tuition with introductory lessons on the British education system. Tailored to each student’s academic ability and aspirations, they can last from one term to one year, with access to Summer School study too.

Summer School


Also on the 70-acre campus within the beautiful Malvern Hills, this College’s summer holiday courses offer pupils aged 7 to 18 a residential stay with study, fun and culture combined.

With 16 hours of English tuition alongside cultural excursions and fun, social and sporting activities, the summer school programme runs from mid-June until late August.

Minimum two-week stay, start date any Sunday.

School Integration and Future Leaders Programme, locations across the UK

School Integration Programme


This programme is a great way to improve English and experience life as a student in the UK. Delivered by this school at a college near Windsor, the one to seven-week programme offers pupils aged 7 to 17 the opportunity to forge international friendships and improve their skills and confidence in spoken English. International pupils are paired with British peers and follow the same curriculum for the duration.

Business Insight


Ideal for pupils considering an international education or career abroad, this course introduces elements of business English including writing a CV, searching and applying for jobs and interview prep.

Future World Leaders Academy – Mini UN


Students get to improve their debating, leadership and team-working skills in this cross-cultural academy. They’ll form their own ‘government’ and try to sustain their countries as they work through global issue scenarios. They’ll also participate in public speaking workshops and have chance to meet and talk to guest speakers.

Summer School in Oxford


Stay with UK host students and study in one of England’s most beautiful stately homes in the peaceful Cotswolds. Westonbirt Summer School students can improve their English-language skills with 15 hours of language lessons plus conversational English with host families and the Team Project Challenge.

Alongside English tuition and academy options (e.g. horse riding, performing arts, or a multi-activity programme) there are day trips to the cities of London, Oxford, Bath and a tour of the world-famous Harry Potter studios.

Caters for pupils aged 10 to 16, on a two-week minimum stay, from 10th July till 7th August.

Language School in Sidmouth

This family-run language school in the seaside town of Sidmouth offers year-round residential courses for adults and young learners aged 8 to 13.

Pupils stay with carefully selected homestay families locally, have morning lessons in mixed nationality classes, then afternoon activities and excursions including beach activities, kayaking and adventure walks.

American School, Switzerland

Summer Edge and Summer courses


Students aged 13-17 can spend three action-packed weeks enjoying adventurous activities as they build on their teamwork, leadership and creative skills. Daytime classes and activities are followed by evening socials such as glow-in-the-dark dodgeball, dances and banquets, plus trips to Swiss cities. Ideal for adrenaline seekers with its parapenting, whitewater rafting, and indoor skydiving options!

If you’d like to find out more about anything we’ve covered in this issue, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.