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.

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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.

9 comments

  • Perhaps Mr Joyce would be better spending resources on a youth service. This could engage directly will children and families in the home and community environment. Of course this is not a good idea as the previous service was closed in 2011. Shortly afterwards the meltdown of children's services began.

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    Little fish

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • Back to the future for a policy that has been shown not to work and costs lots of money. The real issues remain in families which at some point children have to return. Sending children off to residential schools only exports the problem in the short term. Issues remain in respect of NCC's over eagerness to use child protection policies to remove children to early without engaging fully with families first. NCC still remains one of the worst performing children's services departments in England. Mr Joyce who no doubt enjoyed his time at boarding school remains unable to grasp the real issues children's services need to address if they are to make progress.

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    Little fish

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • Exactly Cyril. A large part of the year is spent NOT in school. So it doesn't matter what happens to the unfortunates when they are on hols. Furthermore there are some really strange boarding schools in Norfolk with only a couple of dozen children in them. I think it would be most unfair to drop a child from a mainstream school into those. But schools like Wymondham College have always existed to provide boarding accommodation to those whose parents cant afford the £30,000 pa for the posh boarding schools and whose boarding fees are largely paid for by some organisation or government body.

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    alecto

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • This is a very good thing to be doing.The kids at risk of being taken into care may not be at fault and deserve looking after. I had two very good friends in the late 60searly 70s whose family life was disrupted and they had places at Wymondham College and went on to successful careers as responsible adults. The EDP would do better to worry about the number of refugees being relocated to Yarmouth , stretching the health care provision, needing special help in schools and wandering into retailers and having been given enough funds to pay for HD TVs with the most up to date dvd systems and the media to use on them, and their rents until they have permission to work whilst Grreat Yarmouth young adults are scraping to make a living and living at home

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    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • Duncan Hall school in Scratby was full of 'poor' boys from London in the 50s. It has only taken NCC 60 years to see that boarding can be the best option for these unfortunates.....Looks like they have ditched the theory that a home environment is the best place for any child to develope.

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    Rhombus

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

  • Quite true, I was at Wymondham College in the 70s, one of my friends came from South London. Why are they acting like this is a new idea?

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    Honest John

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • I agree with Macmillan. This was happening in the 1970s in Norfolk. I knew two pupils who were funded to attend Wymondham College as they had family problems. They were removed from our school to go there.

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    samphirelover

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • Seems a good idea - but what do they do with the children during the holidays?

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    Cyril the Canary

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • There is no story here! This was going on back in the 80s, when I was at Cawston College

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    macmillan7382

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

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