26th July 2017
What's the thinking behind the government initiative to get more vulnerable children into boarding schools?
At present, there are only about 100 young people in this position across the country, but Boarding School Partnerships (BSP), a new Department for Education-funded information service, is aiming to increase that number, potentially up to as many as 2,000.
The key, however, is to win over local authorities: a previous research project aiming to explore the impact of these placements had to be abandoned earlier this year due to a lack of referrals from social workers.
being in the right boarding school can sometimes offer its own sense of community – far more so than moving between foster placements that keep breaking down says Dr Amelia Roberts, deputy director of the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education. “For those who are able to access that feeling of belonging, the opportunities could be incredible. But there are very many factors that have to be right for that potential to be fully realised. It isn’t going to be a magic wand.”
The BSP website, which is intended to be used by social workers considering the option for young people (either at risk of being taken into care or already in the system), has a list to help identify those who may benefit. The decision in each case will ultimately be made by the school, with councils providing the funds if a child is accepted.
Fit for an oligarch: school for the super-rich opens in London's Mayfair
Eaton Square upper school offers neoclassical classrooms in a Grade 1-listed building, and fees to suit London’s bankers and aristocrats
School assemblies will be held in a state-room hung with original 1761 green silk wallpaper. History will be taught in neoclassical rooms designed by Robert Adam, and chemistry experiments will be carried out in basement laboratories being converted from what are amusingly described as “Mrs Patmore’s kitchens”.
This is Eaton Square upper school, the first new co-ed private school in central London for decades, which is preparing to open its doors to the children of the super-rich bankers, aristocrats and oligarchs of Mayfair and Chelsea.
On 6 September, the headteacher, Sebastian Hepher, will welcome 96 12- to 14-years-olds through the doors of 106 Piccadilly – a Grade I-listed townhouse, once home to Lord Coventry and for more than a century the location of the St James’s Club. The co-ed school roll will eventually number 450 and the building is currently undergoing a £5.2m conversion – backed by private equity funding – into what might be the most fancily located school in the world.
parents, who mostly come from across Europe, the US and Russia, are increasingly seeking London day schools for their children rather than sending them away to boarding schools. And their children often haven’t reached “the point academically where they can get into a St Paul’s or a Westminster School”.
Eaton Square, Hepher said, would ensure the rounded development of children in all areas of life and would not be an academic “hot house”. “There’s got to be a balance between hard work and learning ... not all children are exam machines.”
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