Looked-after children to get mentors and cut-price fees from private schools

The Department for Education is launching a new mentor scheme for ‘gifted’ children in care, as 65 boarding schools agree to give cut-price fees to looked-after children.

The scheme will see ‘gifted’ looked-after children getting access to specialist schools or facilities by setting up a network of up to 10 regional hubs across the country which will aim to create partnerships between councils, independent schools and social workers.

Two separate schemes will see some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Eton College and Harrow School, volunteer to provide teaching hours or school places to looked-after children, as children’s service budgets in local authorities continue to tighten.

The Boarding School Partnerships service, which launched in July 2017 and is funded by the Department for Education, will use its conference in London later today to announce 65 boarding schools which have signed up to its bursary scheme.

The boarding schools will offer a 40 per cent discount on full fees to children who are either in care or at risk of going into care, with the remaining 60 per cent paid by the local authority. The first bursaries will be introduced in September 2019.

Colin Morrison, chair of Boarding School Partnerships, said the “shared enthusiasm” of boarding schools, social workers and local authorities “now makes it possible for hundreds more young people to benefit from the structure, sense of community and education at these fine schools.”

Colin Morrison

Morrison, who was funded to attend the Royal Wanstead boarding school in east London by Essex County Council as a child, told Schools Week that he had “never seen the relationships between local authorities and boarding schools being so warm and so fertile for cooperation”.

“There isn’t a local authority in England and Wales that doesn’t have budgetary problems when it comes to dealing with sometimes very pressing problems with children in care,” he added.

“I think people are realising that boarding schools can be a really effective social resource.”

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi is also set to announced the launch of a national scheme between private schools and councils at the conference.

The scheme will see ‘gifted’ looked-after children getting access to specialist schools or facilities by setting up a network of up to 10 regional hubs across the country which will aim to create partnerships between councils, independent schools and social workers.

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi

A spokesperson for the DfE said it was not yet known where the hubs would be or how much funding they would receive, but said a tender would be launched in the new year.

The hubs will set out the services available to children in care through working with private schools, including academic support, extra-curricular activities, work experience opportunities and targeted help with UCAS statements.

Zahawi is expected to say he hopes that 1,000 independent schools will get involved in the scheme.

“We need to dream much bigger for these vulnerable children and raise ambition and belief in what they can achieve – whether that means school scholarships, mentoring or help applying to university,” he will say.

Zahawi has said he wants to replicate the success of Norfolk, where the local authority has been placing vulnerable children in boarding schools for the past 10 years and has claimed their GCSE results have improved. However, Schools Week reported in May that concerns were raised over the accuracy of this data.


The 65 schools in the Boarding School Partnerships bursary scheme:

  1. Abbotsholme School, Staffordshire
  2. Ackworth School, West Yorkshire
  3. Ashville College, North Yorkshire
  4. UWC Atlantic College, Glamorgan
  5. Bath Academy
  6. Bedales School, Hampshire
  7. Bede’s School, Sussex
  8. Bradfield College, Berkshire
  9. Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire
  10. Canford School, Dorset
  11. Charterhouse School, Surrey
  12. Christ’s Hospital School, Sussex
  13. Clifton College, Bristol
  14. Cottesmore School, Sussex
  15. Cranleigh School and Prep School, Surrey
  16. Culford School, Suffolk
  17. Denstone College, Staffordshire
  18. Dover College, Kent
  19. Dulwich College, London
  20. Durham School
  21. Ellesmere College, Shropshire
  22. Eton College, Berkshire
  23. Farringtons School, Kent
  24. Felsted School, Essex
  25. Framlingham College, Suffolk
  26. Giggleswick School, Yorkshire
  27. Gresham’s School, Norfolk
  28. Harrow School, Middlesex
  29. Ipswich High School
  30. Kent College Canterbury
  31. Kent College Pembury
  32. King Edward’s School Witley, Surrey
  33. Kingham Hill School, Oxfordshire
  34. King’s College Taunton, Somerset
  35. King’s School Canterbury, Kent
  36. Kingsley School Bideford, Devon
  37. Kingswood School, Bath
  38. Lord Wandsworth College, Hampshire
  39. Malvern College, Worcestershire
  40. Millfield School, Somerset
  41. Monkton Combe School, Bath
  42. Oundle School, Northamptonshire
  43. Prior’s Field School, Surrey
  44. Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, Yorkshire
  45. Queen’s College Taunton, Somerset
  46. Reed’s School, Surrey
  47. Repton School, Derbyshire
  48. Rossall School, Lancashire
  49. Royal Alexandra and Albert School, Surrey
  50. Royal Hospital School, Suffolk
  51. Rugby School, Warwickshire
  52. Ryde School, Isle of Wight
  53. Shebbear College, Devon
  54. Shrewsbury School, Shropshire
  55. St Felix School, Suffolk
  56. St Francis College, Hertfordshire
  57. St Lawrence College, Kent
  58. St Swithun’s School, Hampshire
  59. Trent College, Nottingham
  60. Truro School, Cornwall
  61. Wellington School, Somerset
  62. West Hill Park School, Hampshire
  63. Windlesham House School, Sussex
  64. Winchester College, Hampshire
  65. Woodhouse Grove School, Yorkshire


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  1. Local authorities, already cash-strapped, will be expected to partially fund fees at private schools for cared-for children. Only the ‘gifted’, of course.
    But it’s one way of claiming private schools are worth their charitable status. – just as long as they don’t have to deal with the ‘ungifted’.
    Barnaby Lenon, ISC chair, told the Telegraph the scheme would let cared-for children access day places. The official announcement, which appeared days after the Telegraph’s report, quotes an independent school head saying he hoped independent day schools would join the scheme. A day place is not a boarding one.