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Boarding school benefits for growing number of disadvantaged children


A charity set up to help children from some of the poorest communities in the country benefit from a top boarding school education is set to triple the number of people it supports within the year.

The SpringBoard Foundation says it has placed 38 new pupils in boarding schools this term, on top of 25 who started last September. By 2015, it hopes that 120 children from deprived backgrounds will be attending UK boarding schools as a result of its work.

The organisation works with mentoring organisations in poor communities such as Croxteth in Liverpool and Forest Gate, East London to find young people who could benefit from boarding and and find them appropriate schools and bursary packages.

The pupils' backgrounds include neglect by parents, suffering physical or mental abuse at home, having a parent who is seriously ill or living in over-crowded accommodation.

There is a growing list of boarding schools signing up to take part, from the elite Eton College, to Marlborough, Repton and the state-funded Wellington Academy. The schools are given special advice and support on how to welcome children from a wide variety of backgrounds which they may not already be familiar with.

Bursaries are either provided by the schools themselves, SpringBoard or other charities.

Ian Davenport, chief executive of the organisation, which was set up in 2012, told TES he believed the charity would meet its goal of placing 2,000 young people within 8 or 9 years

The news comes after a report from the Centre for Social Justice think-tank said sending more children from challenging backgrounds to state boarding schools was a vital measure for solving educational failure.

The report said “ideological resistance” from some social workers was holding back the use of boarding for children who could benefit. The think-tank called for expansion in state boarding school provision, which it said could benefit many of England’s most vulnerable children.

Mr Davenport said: "We have been absolutely delighted with how just about everything is going. We've engaged [boarding] schools in a really enthusiastic and positive way. It's captured their imaginations because we are accrediting them to make sure they give lots of thought into receiving children from very different backgrounds."

Schools also appreciated the extra level of support that the young people were provided with in their community, he added.

He said the scheme had also "galvanised" the communities from which it recruited young people, as boarders returned to give aspiration-raising talks to their peers.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other ongoing projects designed to increase the number of young people benefiting from boarding education.

Holyport College, a free school backed by Eton College, opened its doors for the first time this term, aiming to take a mix of children from a wide variety of backgrounds into day and state boarding places.

The headteacher Walter Boyle, who grew up in poverty in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said he wanted the school to be "a voice for poor kids."

However, a project by Durand Academy, a state school in Stockwell, South London, to set up a boarding school in the countryside for inner city children has been beset with problems, including local resistance to the project.

One Tory county councillor in West Sussex said bringing large groups of inner city children to board in rural West Sussex would create "a sexual volcano".


Related stories:

‘We want to be a voice for poor kids’ 11 July 2014

State boarding schools in desperate need of cash for new buildings, head warns: 24 November 2011

Boarding schools are good value and single parent families should consider them, insists top head: 17 September 2012




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