The following information should answer any remaining questions you might have. However, feel free to send an email if there is anything else that you would like to know.
Who should I ask to be my referee for my application?
Choose your referees carefully as they will help us gain a better understanding of you as a person and allow us to match you with the most suitable placement available. Referees will be asked about what they see as your strengths and weaknesses, your skills and abilities so it’s best to ask someone who knows you well. One referee must be a teacher or the Principal from your school and we suggest that you select others from people you know through your sporting or cultural involvement. For example, a sports coach, a music or dance/drama teacher. You could also ask your part time employer or someone from a community group you’re involved with such as a Scout Leader or a Minister of Religion.
Does every applicant get a gap placement?
Every applicant who applies through The Gap Network is offered an interview. After the interview, we look at the requirements of each of our UK schools and match the best candidate with the needs of the school. It is a competitive process and not all applicants will be offered a gap placement. For this reason, it is important for you to prepare the highest quality application possible. Spend some time thinking about why you want to be a gap assistant and how you could contribute to the community of a UK Boarding School.
Do I get to choose my gap placement?
The answer is yes and no…You can certainly let us know if you would particularly like to live in the city or country, work in a prep or high school, with boys or girls or both. When allocating placements, The Gap Network takes note of your preferences, but also tries to match your individual skills and experiences with the needs/requirements of each school. Being flexible can be the key to securing a placement and this might mean a willingness to revise your preferences.
Are some schools more competitive to get into than others?
Some schools are very specific about the skills they are seeking in their future gap assistants. For example, if they have a rowing program they may be seeking someone who has been a rower at school, some request an ability to coach or umpire in a particular sport such as rugby, netball, cricket or swimming. Some have a preference for your ability to teach or contribute to music or performing arts while others will simply be looking forward to welcoming energetic Australian gap student(s) to work with the students in their school community.
Will I be the only gap assistant at my school?
It really depends on the school. Some schools take several gap assistants, while others may take only one. Be assured, if you are the only student at your school, you will have lots of opportunities to meet and mix with other gap assistants in the UK at the same time as you. This contact starts before you leave home! The Gap Network organises a pre-departure orientation where you meet other gap students as well as a Facebook Group.
Where will I live?
As a gap assistant your host school will provide your accommodation, generally within the school grounds. The nature of the accommodation varies between schools, in some cases you will have your own room in the school boarding house, or you might live in a self-contained cottage or apartment with other gap assistants. In some cases, schools will ask you to temporarily vacate your accommodation during the long summer holidays (Jul/Aug) but this will be at the time gap assistants can take advantage of the proximity to Europe and the amazing opportunity to travel.
Is my food included?
Your meals during term time will be included as part of your gap placement. Some schools list their menus on their website…take a look at what’s on offer! During school holidays, you may be asked to self-cater, but kitchen facilities and often basic provisions will be made available to you.
How much will I be paid?
This really depends on your school. As a rough guide, gap assistants normally receive around £ 500 pounds per month. At the current exchange rate, that’s approximately $930 per month in AUD. It is a good idea to confirm this when you speak to your school.
Do I need a UK Visa and how do I organise one?
If you are travelling on an Australian passport, you will require a UK Visa. Once your placement is confirmed, The Gap Network will provide advice and support with the visa application process.
Do I need to organise my own flights and insurance?
A placement through The Gap Network allows you ultimate flexibility in organising your own flights and insurance. We will confirm the start date at your school and then you can organise the details. You might choose to use frequent flyer points or organise a family holiday before you start. It’s really up to you! That’s why travel and insurance costs are not a compulsory part of our service, unlike other organisations. Depending on demand from year to year, The Gap Network may coordinate a group flight booking.
How do I get from the airport to my school?
The Gap Network will assist in arranging transfer to your gap school. A member of staff from the school may come to collect you from the airport or forward travel arrangements from the airport will be made.
What if I have problems during my gap placement?
We are on hand to help you resolve any problems which may arise during your gap year. In the first instance, each gap student will have a member of school staff overseeing their placement and acting as a mentor. The Gap Network is also monitoring your progress and is able to advise and usually iron out any problems you might experience. We are also available to liaise with parents should they have any concerns during the year.
What if I become unwell during my placement?
As a young adult travelling overseas for the first time, a major advantage of employment within a UK boarding school is the presence of an established, experienced and supportive safety net.
Boarding schools usually maintain an on-site ‘sick bay’ staffed by a registered nurse to oversee health and welfare within its community. They will be used to providing treatment for more minor illnesses and injuries and will also have a good knowledge of local health providers.
For Australian Citizens, the UK National Health Service has a reciprocal agreement with Medicare in Australia. Your school is likely to register you with a local health provider.
In addition, every gap assistant placed by The Gap Network is required to have comprehensive travel insurance before they leave Australia. You will be asked to show proof and provide a copy of your policy prior to departure.
What if I get homesick?
Homesickness is a normal reaction to living away from home and sometimes you will miss your friends, family and home. Each person will deal with this differently. You might talk to your school mentor about it, share your feelings with other gappies or throw yourself into new activities…part of your year away is about developing skills of self-reliance and resilience. It won’t always be easy, but hopefully you will learn how to cope in your own way.
What will I gain from my gap experience?
The world is your oyster…the sky is the limit…it’s really up to you! You really do get back what you put in so if you choose to get involved in school life, immerse yourself in the culture and take up the many opportunities offered, you are likely to have a wonderful experience, learn a lot about yourself and others plus make lifelong friends. In the words of a returned gap assistant:
Through my gap year experiences, I learnt to become more independent, a quality that I feel is very important for young adults transitioning from high school to University. It is hard to describe all the emotions and personal-development that I experienced from my gap year in just a few words but overall I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is remotely interested (Rob, UK Gap Assistant, 2013).