Minister praises Boarding School Partnership scheme

Minister praises Boarding School Partnership scheme

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi has praised 40 independent schools for taking part in a scheme that provides places for looked-after children.

Leading private schools such as Eton College and Rugby School have signed up to the Boarding School Partnership which offers places to children in the care of a local authority. Local authorities pay 60 per cent of the fees - with individual schools providing a bursary of 40 per cent.

Norfolk County Council placed 52 vulnerable or "at risk" children in boarding schools over a 10-year period. It found that nearly two-thirds came off the "at risk" register after three years while GCSE grades improved substantially when compared with the wider cohort of "at risk" children.

Campaigners have urged Ministers to strip private schools of their charitable status which grants them tax breaks, with Labour pledging to abolish VAT-free school fees at last year’s Election.

Francis Green, of the Centre for Global Higher Education, said that private schools needed to go further.

"I would be in favour of a broader scheme that would partially integrate the schools into the state education system.

"So that, for example, one-third of their places would be paid for by the state at the same rate as the state pays for educating all other children and they would choose who goes to those schools.

"It wouldn't at all be an abolition of the private schools, the schools would still retain their independent governance, and their independence from local authorities and so on and so forth, but they would be obliged to begin to socially integrate so they are not just bastions of privilege," he told BBC's Newsnight.

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