Boarding School Partnerships seeks to give local authority commissioning teams ready access to the expertise and resources of the charities and schools involved in placements of vulnerable young people
These young people can benefit from the structure, community, individual attention and pastoral care of boarding school. Throughout the UK, charities and boarding schools are already supporting up to 1,000 young people. These are vulnerable people some of whom might otherwise eventually need to be taken into local authority care.
The evidence shows that these ‘Assisted Boarders’ frequently out-perform their new boarding school peers on a range of social and educational criteria.
Boarding school education can be a life-changing experience for young people. It can give pupils from diverse backgrounds a stable, caring and supportive environment in which to succeed and fulfill their potential. There are more than 500 boarding schools in the UK, 38 of which are state maintained schools or academies. Many of these currently support vulnerable young people co-funded by charities or local authorities.
Over the past 10 years, these schools and charities have – with the support of the Department for Education – participated in a series of initiatives to help share the lessons of Assisted Boarding. These have included the DfE’s former Pathfinder project (2007-10), and RNCF's Assisted Boarding Network (since 2011).
As a result, there has been a small but steady increase in the number of local authorities making boarding school placements. But such activity is frequently constrained by: a lack of knowledge of boarding schooling in local authorities; and by funding issues. Boarding School Partnerships has been launched to help local authorities make boarding placements wherever appropriate. This is consistent with the statutory duty to consider boarding placements for looked after children (Source: Promoting the Education of Looked After Children, Department for Education, July 2014).
LA-supported boarding school placements may be appropriate where a young person’s home circumstances are (or at risk of becoming) unsustainable and where there are/is:
Many local authorities that have placed young people in boarding provision believe it is the most appropriate placement, improves outcomes and also is cost-effective. They believe that most of these boarders would not have been on the same trajectory had it not been for the placement.
Boarding schools offer many opportunities including an extended range of education, supervised homework time (“prep”), before and after school activities, individual attention and high quality pastoral care. This is particularly important for vulnerable children coming from seriously adverse home or family circumstances. One virtual school head says: “It is not about saying they will get a better education, because they won’t. It is enabling them to learn there, which wouldn’t normally be possible because of a chaotic home life”.
The decision about a boarding placement must be made on the basis of careful individual selection and looking at a range of options that would benefit the child in the long term. Every good parent wants the best for their child.
This is true for individual parents whose child may be at risk of entering care in the future, and for local authorities who are corporate parents for looked after children. Local authorities, as corporate parents, have the statutory responsibility to act for, support and look after a child in the same way a good parent would.
It is important for local authorities to ensure that the assessment process for identifying children who may benefit is multi-agency and holistic.
Those who may benefit
Boarding placements may particularly suit those young people who...
But boarding school placement has proved successful for many young people close to the edge of care and for some looked after children. Charity professionals and the staff of boarding schools with a track record of Assisted Boarding will be able to help advise you. But, ultimately, boarding school may simply not be 'right' for every young person.
Those less likely to benefit
Boarding School Partnerships is an information service funded primarily by the Department for Education and is a collaboration with the Boarding Schools’ Association, Buttle UK, Reedham Children’s Trust, and the Royal National Children's SpringBoard Foundation. It is managed by an Advisory Board comprising representatives of charities, schools, local authorities and children’s organisations.
This service gives local authority commissioning teams access to:
We can give you access to the expertise of boarding placements whenever you need it.
The experience of our partner charities, schools and an increasing number of local authorities implies that many more vulnerable young people could benefit from boarding school. Boarding School Partnerships can help local authorities to make boarding placements where appropriate. We encourage you to engage as follows:
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