Independent schools to raise opportunities for children in care

A new national scheme between independent schools and councils has been set up to raise outcomes for young people growing up in care.

It will help children in care who too often struggle to get ahead in mainstream education as a result of their challenging upbringing.

The move follows a successful 10-year project run by the Boarding Schools Partnerships and Norfolk County Council, where young people who were either in care or at risk of going into care were taken off the council’s risk register after at least three years in a boarding school. A higher proportion of looked-after children who were at boarding schools achieved A* to C grades in GCSE maths and English, compared to all looked-after children in 2016.

By establishing up to 10 of these hub areas – creating partnerships between councils, independent and boarding schools, social workers and Virtual School Heads – the government aims to replicate some of the outcomes seen in Norfolk.

In these areas, more children in care will be offered places at partner independent or boarding schools, but will also benefit from meaningful opportunities and activities from these schools without attending as pupils – in recognition that boarding full time may not always be the best option for every child.

In each hub, arrangements will be put in place setting out the services available to children in care, including the academic support they will receive, with a particular focus on tutoring, mentoring or contributions towards activities in the school holidays.

Young people will get access to activities that help to widen their extra-curricular skills, such as work experience opportunities, targeted help with writing UCAS statements, or debating clubs; and their access to independent schools’ sports, drama or music facilities.

The plans will also provide schools with advice and guidance on how to target bursaries towards looked-after children. They will also provide options between partners for funding these places, using the Boarding Schools Partnerships model as an example, where more than 60 independent schools are already signed up to offer bursaries at reduced rates for children in care.

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