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Norfolk research highlights success of boarding partnerships

12 June 2018

Norfolk’s pioneering partnership work with boarding schools will be under the national spotlight this week as the county’s work and research takes centre-stage at a government conference.

Norfolk County Council has the most successful boarding partnership scheme in the country, with 52 vulnerable children placed in 11 state and independent boarding schools over the last decade.

The Norfolk Boarding School Partnerships scheme has helped prevent children and young people from going into or staying in care.  Boarding school placements have also improved educational outcomes and helped to strengthen families.

The Department for Education  is showcasing Norfolk's work, so that many more vulnerable and disadvantaged young people nationally have the chance to benefit from attending boarding schools.

Penny Carpenter, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, 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.  I am pleased that we have had the foresight to invest in this project and that the government is now sharing Norfolk’s work - this will mean that even more young people across the country can benefit and achieve their potential."

Norfolk County Council has recently carried out in-depth research into the impact of the programme in Norfolk, which will be shared at today’s event hosted by Lord Agnew, in Westminster.  The research was commissioned by the Boarding Schools Partnership and validated by the UCL Institute of Education.

The research found:

  • 71% of all the Norfolk-funded boarders showed a reduced level of risk and 63% moved off the risk register completely; nine of the 17 children in care in the programme, were able to return to their families
  • A higher proportion of children who took the placements attained an A*-C or Grade 4+ in both maths and English, compared with children in care nationally;
  • Placing children who are in or on the edge of local authority care in boarding schools can be cost-effective. The boarding school fees paid by Norfolk ranged from £11k per year for state schools to £35k for independent schools, with Norfolk County Council spending an average of £56,200 on children in their care.

Wendy Thomson, Managing Director of Norfolk County Council will attend today's event in London.

She said:  “Norfolk County Council is proud to be leading the way in working with boarding schools to improve the lives of children in or on the edge of our care.

"Our research shows that with the right placement, boarding schools can enable children and families to remain together.  Most importantly, children and young people feel valued and supported, giving them a far better chance of achieving their potential in life.”

Lord Agnew, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Schools System, said:  “We are improving education for every child, irrespective of background or circumstance, and welcome the findings from this report.

“It is right that all children should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and this report demonstrates that – for the right person, at the right school, at the right time – boarding school can be highly effective in improving both social and educational outcomes.  I urge local authorities to consider these findings and the positive impact boarding school placements can have on vulnerable children.”

Colin Morrison, chair 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.”

The research is available online.

Boarding School Partnerships (BSP) is a Department for Education collaboration with the Welsh Government, launched in July 2017, to give local authorities to the expertise and resources of state and independent boarding schools, specialist boarding school charities.  It operates a free web-based service of case studies, research and schools search.  The BSP organised the Norfolk Boarding School Partnerships research with the UCL’s Institute of Education, as part of its commitment to spread knowledge and understanding of boarding school placements for local authorities.

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