Boarding School for Care Children

A pilot scheme to educate some children in local authority care at state and private boarding schools is being considered by the government. Schools Minister Lord Adonis said it would be “money well spent” if exam results improved but only a small number of children would be affected. The charity Barnardos has suggested eight out of 10 children in care leave school without qualifications. The charity’s head, Martin Narey, said this idea could help some children.

Lord Adonis told the BBC: “In the discussions we’ve had it’s a number of schools both state and private, that already have expertise in this area, that are keen to explore the potential for expanding this but I should stress that we are talking about small numbers.

“We certainly do not see this as an answer for the great majority of looked-after children. We need to see that the solutions that we have are fit for the individual child. But for some children it may well be that the stability which can be brought about by boarding schools, which can cater for their particular needs, will be a great improvement on the status quo.”

Mr Narey said: “One of the advantages is that it might be much easier to find them stable foster arrangements, because foster parents would find it much easier if they were taking children just in holidays rather than 52 weeks of the year.

“So some stability would be brought into their home and their educational life which could make a difference…”

On Monday the Institute of Public Policy Research suggested children in care should be given £20 a week to pay for after-school activities to encourage them to achieve better exam results.

The think tank puts the overall cost of the scheme at £27.4m, which it said would work out at £1.32 a year to the average taxpayer.

Jim Bennett, head of social policy at the IPPR, thought the costs justified. He said: “There’re a number of ways in which children who are being cared for by the state are at a disadvantage compared to other children in the education system.

“And one particular area is around their ability to take up extra curricular activities like after school clubs or sporting activities and also just to get access to kind of treats that other people, their peers, would take for granted.”