The effectiveness of placing vulnerable children in boarding schools is set to be called into question by an independent evaluation of a government scheme piloting the approach.
Schools minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said the forthcoming report will show that six of the 17 placements in boarding schools by 10 councils taking part in the scheme have already broken down.
The minister told the National Children’s and Adult Services Conference in Liverpool yesterday that the evaluation of the Boarding Placements pathfinder suggested that a high proportion of placements had failed.
“We’re not saying that boarding school is the ideal option for every child – there’s only a small number that this will be appropriate for,” she added.
The two-year pathfinder pilot, championed by McCarthy-Fry’s predecessor Lord Adonis, was established in November 2006 to offer places at fee-paying private schools to children who were either already in council care or whose family circumstances were so chaotic it was likely they would be taken into care shortly.
Placements were funded by councils or charitable trusts, with each participating authority receiving £5,000 of government funding to develop an assessment tool.
The evaluation is being carried out by the Thomas Coram research unit.