Exclusive: Doubling in boarding school bursaries for disadvantaged pupils

Charity reveals plans for 1,000 disadvantaged pupils to attend private and state boarding schools for free by 2024

Charlotte Santry


One thousand children from disadvantaged backgrounds will attend boarding school for free by 2023 under plans revealed by a charity today.

The number represents a doubling of pupils receiving bursaries from the Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation to attend state and independent boarding schools.

Ian Davenport, chief executive of Royal SpringBoard, is set to announce the new target at the Boarding Schools' Association (BSA) conference, starting tomorrow, in Brighton.

He is due to tell headteachers: “We believe we can help increase social mobility through widening access to boarding education and we encourage our pupils to spread the benefit they have enjoyed, by passing on their experiences and raising aspirations within their home communities.”

Independent research published by the National Foundation for Educational Research in January found that the programme transformed pupils' lives for the better.

The scheme is currently supporting 475 children in 65 accredited state and independent boarding schools across the country, with 90 children due to start in boarding schools this September.

'Life-transforming' opportunities

The children, their families, local authorities or schools can either apply to the scheme directly or they are recommended through community groups or other partners.

However, a similar government-backed project to send disadvantaged children to boarding school had to be abandoned last year because local authorities were refusing to take part.

Buttle UK, the charity behind the abandoned project, put this partly down to social workers’ low aspirations for the children involved.

Former schools minister Lord Adonis is among those who left a children's home to take up a boarding school place.

Martin Reader, BSA chairman, said today: “We want to offer life-transforming opportunities to disadvantaged children and children who might otherwise be in care, as well as making our boarding communities more diverse and representative of the world around them.

“In boarding, we really have the time to transform lives. A boarding education offers time to really spend with the children. Boarding offers stability and a high level of pastoral care, as well as a huge array of arts, drama and sports opportunities after the school day is over.”

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Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry is deputy news editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @CharlotteSantry

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