A boarding education with its’ 24/7 pastoral care environment, stability of school placement and excellence in teaching and learning – can provide a transformative educational pathway for some care-experienced children.
We work with Local Authorities across England and Wales to identify children who are looked-after or identified as being ‘in-need’ who might benefit from the opportunities of a boarding school education, to broker placements in schools best placed to meet their academic, social and pastoral needs, and prepare and support them to thrive throughout their bursary placements.
Our work is part-funded by the Department for Education to provide expertise to help Local Authorities to meet their statutory duty to consider boarding placements for looked-after children (Source: Promoting the Education of Looked After Children, Department for Education, July 2014); building on the Boarding Schools Partnership – an initiative that was launched by DfE Ministers in 2017 and responsibility for which was passed to the Royal National Children's SpringBoard Foundation in 2020.
When boarding may be appropriate
Local Authority-supported boarding school placements may be appropriate where a young person’s home circumstances are (or are at risk of becoming) unsustainable and where there are/is:
links with their family network but the links may be fragile or chaotic, and full-time, long-term care by the wider family is not possible
generally an average to good educational potential or an identified talent or potential talent
good attachments and the ability to make and sustain positive relationships
Boarding schools offer many opportunities including an extended range of education, supervised homework time, before and after-school activities, individual attention and high-quality pastoral care. This is particularly important for children facing vulnerabilities in their home or family circumstances.
Many Local Authorities that have supported the placement of care-experienced young people in boarding provision have found that these have not only improved outcomes, but also presented a cost-effective educational pathway. The Norfolk Boarding School Partnership provides some quantitative evidence that care-experienced boarders would not have been on the same trajectory had it not been for the placement. We are committed to rigorously monitoring and evaluating all placements, and hope to publish research on the impact of our work in this area as our partnership with the Department for Education develops.
Of course, boarding is not for everyone. That’s why we have extended our LAVC programmes to provide life-changing opportunities at some of the country's leading independent day schools to children/young people in care for whom this is a more appropriate option.
‘For a small number of Looked After Children boarding school is an excellent option. It works best when the whole team supporting the young person is involved in early identification and supportive of the opportunity. Where we have placed (pupils) we have done so in a boarding school where staff are trained to be very attachment aware. This coupled with the support from RNCSF has resulted in 100% success for our young people. They have all settled, thrived and achieved. A stable foster placement and consistent Social Worker is ideal but understandably not always possible. The support, advice and guidance from RNCSF has been invaluable.’
A Virtual School Head
'For the small number of children in need (that we have supported to attend boarding school), the argument is not about saying they will necessarily get a better education, but it is about enabling them to learn in a safe, supportive environment, which wouldn’t normally be possible because of a chaotic home life.’
A Virtual School Head
Identifying those who may (or may not) benefit
With a track record of successful placements and the knowledge of what each school within our accredited school network can offer, we will be able to help advise Local Authorities on individual cases and whether they would be likely to benefit from the placement. We can provide Local Authority commissioning teams access to:
The opportunities for boarding school placements for young people on or on the ‘edge of care’
The resources, information and expertise with which to assess the appropriateness of such opportunities to individual cases
Connections to other local authorities with experience in boarding placements.
It is important for Local Authorities to ensure that the assessment process for identifying children who may benefit is multi-agency and holistic.