The Department for Education and Skills is getting together with the State Boarding Schools Association and local authorities to look at increasing the number of children in care or at risk who are sent to boarding school.
It has been estimated that only around 50 children have been placed in boarding schools by local authorities to date, and some state boarding schools already have their own charitable foundations. But the government is keen to explore the potential for more systematic use of boarding to support vulnerable children.
A spokesperson for the DfES said: “The government is keen to explore the potential of such a scheme. Vulnerable children who might benefit from boarding could include looked-after children, those whose circumstances are such that they may become looked-after without a boarding placement, and children who are disruptive in mainstream education.”
The DfES stressed that boarding was not a panacea and that it was too soon to speculate whether a pilot project would go ahead. “We are not suggesting that this is the answer in all cases, but where boarding can help it should be considered on its merits. Even if only a few hundred children a year might benefit, it would still be worth doing.”
A note of caution was sounded by Susanna Cheal, chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust, who highlighted the need for continued support at home and maintained links with family and friends.
“It’s all about how carefully placements are made and if the right match is made. It could work in certain cases but, if not well thought out, could also go horribly wrong.”