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Residential - Parent FAQ's

Residential – Information for Parents

Below you’ll find answers to lots of frequently asked questions to offer you peace of mind and make sure you and your child are both prepared for camp. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch and we’ll be very happy to help.

The information below is for our residential camp near Oxford.

About the Programmes

How many children of each nationality will you have on Camp?

We aim for a 20% limit of any nationality on camp (except for British students where we aim to have a minimum of 30%).

How does the integration work?

Integration with British children is a huge part of every we do.

On our Oxford residential programmes, students are mixed with local English Buddies, who participate in sports, art and adventure sessions and join us on excursions. This is the perfect way for students to practise their English with native speakers their own age and build friendships.

Read more about integration on our blog.

Where can my child go on Excursion?

To see a full list of Excursions and specific dates, please click here.

How do Excursions work?

We will organise all off-site excursions and trips to ensure your child has a safe and exciting experience.

The minimum ratio of adults to pupils is 1:10 for excursions & trips

Here’s how we will ensure your child has a great (safe) time:

  • We will be split into smaller sub-groups and a leader assigned to them for that excursion. The leader will make sure they get access to everything they need to enjoy their experience is a safe manner
  • We will also assign your child a buddy – together they will look out for each other
  • We will give your child a ‘Contact Card’ which will have information regarding contacting staff in the event they get separated from their group.
  • Your child will be able to carry their mobile phones (if they have one) on trip days to take photos and contact the group leader if they get separated.
  • We will provide your child with unique, Varsity-branded clothing (T-shirts & bags) which they must wear when out on excursion. This is to make sure they are easily recognisable to trip leaders whilst in public places.

Students will go on three excursions in a two week stay.

Accommodation & Food

Where will my child sleep?

Your child will be in single sex rooms (boys with boys, girls with girls). The rooms are dorm style with around 6 students per room, allowing children to make friends with a range of nationalities.

All bedding is provided in the rooms, students only need to remember to bring a towel. Showers, washing and lavatory facilities are provided.

Our staff team live on site to supervise and provide a point of contact for your child 24/7.  They will be on hand to assist throughout the night as well as take charge in the event of an emergency.

What will my child eat?

We know the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet, and understand that offering students a balanced diet helps them concentrate in their English lessons and gives them the energy to participate in the activities and social programme.

To start the day, all children can choose from a selection of cereals and cooked breakfast options, at lunch there is a salad bar and hot food options (packed lunch on trip days) and dinner is typically a three-course meal.  The food may be different to what children are used to at home but meals are varied, balanced and healthy.  We will also make sure that meal times are an enjoyable, social experience.

What if my child has allergies or specific dietary requirements?

We will send you a form as part of the booking process where you must indicate if your child has any specific dietary requirements or if they are allergic to anything.  We can cater for most dietary needs as long as we know at the time of booking.

At the time of booking you will have informed us if your child has any known allergies, and if they will require any medication, or an epi-pen. We will make sure the Epi-pen travels with your child (either held by them or the group instructor).

How often can they wash their clothes?

Laundry will be done by the school staff once a week returned within 48 hours. Bed linen will be cleaned once a week.

Visa Requirements

Does my child need a visa?

Each student attending one of our residential venues from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland may need a visa to gain entry into the UK.

Find out if you need a Visa here – https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

If you need a Visa you will most likely apply for a Short Term Study Visa (Child). Read page 7 of the Short Term Student document here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/short-term-students

We are BAC accredited and as such can provide you with a Visa Support Letter to assist in your Visa application. Visa support letters containing the following information.

  • Full name and date of birth of the child
  • Passport number, date of issue and date of expiry
  • The start and finish dates of the course and the full address of the school at which the child will be staying
  • Confirmation that the course is residential with all meals included, confirmation that all English lessons and activities are included and confirmation of our accreditation details
How can we get a Visa Support Letter?

When you book your programme, select the ‘Visa Support Letter’ option and we’ll be in touch via email to arrange. The Visa Support Letter will be sent to you by email once we have received the deposit payment. Original copies of the letter can be sent on request (please note this option may carry a cost).

Does the course include insurance?

Travel and medical insurance are included with the booking price.  A summary of the policy can be provided upon request.

Travel Arrangements

Will you meet my child at the airport?

Yes – we offer a transfer service from Heathrow and Gatwick airports. If you require a transfer service, we’ll be there to meet your child on arrival.

A staff member will be clearly visible and will have a big board with ‘VARSITY INTERNATIONAL’ on it and your child’s name. If your child is travelling as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ then you will need to speak with the airline to arrange this.

On the way home, we will assist your child with check in and accompany them to the security gate where we can hand them over to the airline if they are travelling as an unaccompanied minor. A staff member will remain in the airport until the flight has taken off.

Read more about transfer days in our blog post, here.

Can I drop off and pick up my child directly to/from the school?

Yes – many parents drop their children with us, as it’s a nice opportunity to parents to see the school and meet some of the staff who will be looking after their children.

If you’d like to drop off and collect yourself, we recommend arriving at around 2pm to allow your child to settle in with all our other new arrivals.

On departure day, we suggest you pick your child up mid-morning, about 11am.


Cothill House School, Cothill, Abingdon OX13 6JL.

Health & Wellbeing

What if my child has an accident?

We will always act in the best interest of your child. We will have asked you to give consent for our staff to perform first aid and seek further medical advice if required during the booking process. We will have a record of your child’s emergency contact details for you so we will be able to do the best we can for your child.

Following a minor incident, an accident form will be completed – we will give you a copy at the end of the child’s stay at Camp if requested. 

Existing Injuries
If your child arrives with a pre-existing injury, we may contact you to confirm that it is an existing injury. This allows us to fully understand the situation, and to offer the best care possible for your child during their stay.

Doctors & Hospitals
We have a long standing working relationship with several GP Surgeries (doctors) within easy reach of Cothill should your child need to see a doctor. In the case of something more serious, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is also only 10 miles from Camp. On either occasion we will be in contact with parents to keep them fully informed about their child’s welfare. 

What if my child is ill or homesick?

It is our aim to give your child a brilliant experience and their well-being is central to us achieving this. Happy students learn more and are able to access the programme in more depth and really get the most out of their time with us.

As a team, all staff take on the pastoral responsibility for the students in their care and create an environment where students are able to feel safe and happy. Varsity firmly believes everyone should feel supported by their peers and Varsity staff.

We’re aware that this may be your child’s first time away from home, experiencing a different culture without their normal network of people around them. We will create a friendly, welcoming environment where your child can adjust.

What if my child takes regular medication?

At the time of booking we will have asked you to inform us if you intend your child to bring medication with them. We will then ensure that the medical details regarding your child are available on camp detailing the type of medication and the administration procedure that you have highlighted to us.

“Situation Medication” – (e.g. Inhalers, Epi-pens) are generally to follow your child around – these can be held by a staff member or your child – whichever is most practical.

“Routine Medication” – (e.g. Tablets), are stored safely by the Camp Manager who will administer them as your instructions.

Our Staff

Who do you hire to teach and instruct at Varsity International?

Our staff are hired based on their specific qualifications, skills and experience of working with children. Their main aim is to ensure your child has a brilliant experience on camp.

Our English teachers are full-qualified professionals with experience working with students aged 8 – 14, both in the UK and internationally. Our activity instructors are employed for their experience of working with children and delivering sports, art and activity sessions.

Our staff are fully-trained in welfare and safeguarding to support the pastoral side of their role. All staff are DBS checked prior to their arrival on Camp.

More questions?