Free boarding school places for care system pupils


Boarding schools in England are to offer free places to children with links to the care system, the Department for Education has announced.

Local authorities will work with children's charities to put forward pupils for bursaries and scholarships.

It is part of a government pledge to get independent and state schools working more closely together and help students from "vulnerable" backgrounds.

About 1,000 young people are already being supported by similar schemes.

The DfE said the Boarding School Partnerships aimed to help children of both primary and secondary age who have previously been in care or are at risk of going into care.

It says research shows a correlation between the boarding environment and improved educational outcomes for vulnerable children.

'Life-transforming opportunity'

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System Lord Agnew said: "Children who have previously been in care or are at risk of care have often gone through difficult, challenging experiences that can have a lasting impact throughout their lives.

"These placements won't be right for every child, but the pastoral care and educational support provided by our top boarding schools can have profound benefits for some young people."

Both independent boarding schools and state boarding schools – those funded by local authorities but where fees are charged for accommodation – are taking part in the scheme, which is backed by the Boarding Schools' Association.

The charities involved are the Reedham Children's Trust, Buttle UK and the Royal National Children's Springboard Foundation.

Two Surrey schools, King Edward's Witley, and the Royal Alexandra & Albert in Reigate, have been named as participants, with others across the country also said to be involved.

John Attwater, headmaster of King Edward's Witley, said boarding could provide a "life-transforming opportunity for vulnerable children and their families and it is core to our founding mission as a school".

It is understood that some local authorities could save money in the long-run because the cost of an annual boarding school placement is much cheaper than foster care.

Labour, however, has called the announcement "flimsy" and says the government has already taken money out of children's services.

The announcement comes after Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a £23m fund to support bright children from poorer backgrounds in England whose talent might otherwise be "wasted".

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