Looked after children’s charities have cast doubt that
plans being considered by the government to send children in care
to boarding schools are workable, writes Derren
Education secretary Charles Clarke sees the plan as a possible
solution to improving the educational attainment of looked after
children and reduce the risk of them developing problems in later
life. It could also save councils money – it costs up to
£100,000 a year to support a child in a care home, while even
top boarding school fees are only a fifth of that amount.
Officials from the department for education and skills have
contacted the Boarding Schools Association to ask whether it would
be feasible for councils to buy boarding school places for young
people living in care homes.
John Keniss, director of Voice of the Child in Care, said that
sending children away could disrupt contact with their family, and
would only help in a handful of cases.
However, Jane Suffian, director of care leavers charity First
Key, said problems over how looked after children would be
integrated into the boarding school system could be overcome.
“There is a danger it could become an ‘us’ and
‘them’ situation, but they could be addressed if it was
carefully thought through,” she said.
Adrian Underwood, national director of the BSA, said that while
the move would not be appropriate for all looked after children, it
could benefit up to 2,000 at any one time.
The proposal is also included in a report by Liberal Democrat
social services spokesperson Paul Burstow, who calls for it to be
The report, ‘Set up to fail? Overlooking looked after children’,
highlights how a generation of young people is being failed by the
care system. It found that two out of three looked after children
will leave school with no GCSEs, over half will be unemployed and a
third end up in prison costing society £730 million a
‘Set up to fail?’ from