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Norfolk County Council pays to send children to boarding school to keep them out of care

PUBLISHED: 16:15 14 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:15 14 June 2014

James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee at Norfolk County Council, which has paid for youngsters to enrol at boarding school.

James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee at Norfolk County Council, which has paid for youngsters to enrol at boarding school.

Archant

Children at risk of being placed into care have been kept out of the system by an unusual solution - the council has partly paid for them to go to boarding schools.

Norfolk County Council’s assisted boarding project has helped 31 young people attend boarding schools - six looked after children and 25 children at risk of coming into care.

By working with the Royal National Children’s Foundation, the council has placed youngsters, aged seven to 18, in nine Norfolk boarding schools.

Other local authorities are now looking to follow suit and Norfolk County Council is hosting an event at Wymondham College on Tuesday to highlight the scheme.

The council says the average cost of taking a child into care is about £46,000 a year, while boarding costs between £10,000 and £30,000.

The council and the Royal National Children’s Foundation is covering the cost of sending the youngsters to boarding school.

James Joyce, chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, said: “The young people on this scheme have faced significant challenges in their lives, many at a crucial time of their development.

“By using a boarding school we are able to take them away from the difficulties they face at home and give them access to a good education and the support they need to boost their learning.

“The success of the scheme can be seen in the achievements of the young people who have been involved, with the majority making significant progress since moving to boarding provision.

“It is a credit to the schools, the young people and our staff that other counties are now looking to Norfolk as an example of best practice in this area.”

Melvyn Roffe, principal of Wymondham College, said: “We are very keen to support the Norfolk assisted boarding scheme.

“From our experience we know that boarding can transform the lives of vulnerable children for the better. It gives them new experiences, strong support and positive role models.

“At Wymondham College vulnerable children do every bit as well as those who come from more settled backgrounds.”

Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department came in for strong criticism from Ofsted inspectors last year. The department is looking to reduce the number of children who end up in care as part of its improvement drive.

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