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Free school placements for children linked to care

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As part of its goal to reform the education system, the government has recently announced that it will be offering state and independent boarding school placements to children with links to the social care system.

The move sees the creation of the new, Boarding School Partnership. The partnership will work closely with local authorities and charities to identify any children who may be eligible for bursaries or scholarships. According to the government website, research has been undertaken to suggest that boarding school placements offer improved educational outcomes for vulnerable children.

When launching the new partnership, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the School System, Lord Agnew said;

“Children who have previously been in care or are at risk of care have often gone through difficult, challenging experiences that can have a lasting impact throughout their lives. The pastoral care and educational support provided by our top boarding schools can have profound benefits for some young people”.

In addition to the 1,000 young people currently receiving support from charities and boarding schools, the partnership aims to create more opportunities for children in care. Furthermore, it is believed that the new system is more cost effective for local authorities as the cost of annual boarding school placements are cheaper than foster care.

Although the feedback concerning the move has been positive, it has been highlighted by the chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, Councillor Richard Watts, that councils will be facing a £2 billion funding gap by 2020. Therefore, it is vial that additional funding is secured so that all children can have the future they deserve.

The new system will be monitored by an expert board which include children’s services professionals, head teacher, charity executors and government officials.

Our specialist SEN solicitors have assisted many children with autism who have been in the care system previously, who have high levels of respite support or who are adopted. Many of our clients seek for their children a waking day curriculum within a residential specialist setting because this can provide a very high level of consistency and specialism. Such placements are often needed for educational reasons. Accordingly this new policy could assist parents a great deal and we therefore welcome it. 

If you require any further advice on the above or are experiencing any other difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist education law team on 02920 291704.