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Programme placing vulnerable Norfolk children in boarding schools to be praised at government conference today

Pupils and staff working in a classroom. Picture: Dominic Lipinski

Pupils and staff working in a classroom. Picture: Dominic Lipinski

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A scheme which sees vulnerable children in Norfolk placed in boarding schools will be praised at a national conference.

Penny Carpenter, chair of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Penny Carpenter, chair of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council’s work with boarding schools has seen 52 vulnerable children placed in 11 state and independent boarding schools over the last decade.

The council says its Norfolk Boarding Schools Partnerships has helped prevent the young people from going into, or staying in, care, with boarding placements said to improve school outcomes and family bonds.

And the Department for Education will praise the work at a conference today, which will be chaired by academies minister Lord Agnew in Westminster.

Research, conducted by the Boarding Schools Partnership and validated by the UCL Institute of Education, found that 71pc of Norfolk-funded boarders showed a reduced level of risk, while 63pc moved off the risk register completely.

It also showed higher exam results, and financial savings for the council - while it spends an average of £56,200 on children in their care, the boarding school fees ranged from £11,000 a year to £35,000.

Penny Carpenter, chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, said: “Our work with boarding schools has helped to keep children safe, supported their education and helped build resilience in families so that children can return home.

“We know that the partnership has reduced levels of risk for children, helped them to achieve qualifications and prevented family break-down.

“It’s a scheme that has had a really positive impact on children and young people, giving them a sense of community, helping them to thrive and building their confidence.”

Wendy Thomson, managing director of the council, said, with the right placement, boarding school placements could keep families together longer-term.

Colin Morrison, chairman of Boarding School Partnerships, said: “This important research – the first of its kind by a local authority - confirms that local authorities and young people in and on the edge of their care have much to gain from the more extensive use of places in state and independent boarding schools.

“We are now working with many other local councils to help them develop programmes like the one in Norfolk.”

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