Disadvantaged pupils’ lives transformed by boarding schools, report reveals

A new impact survey from the Royal SpringBoard has analysed the results of 716 bursaries

Boarding schools transform the life chances of disadvantaged pupils, a report from the Royal SpringBoard has concluded.

An impact report from the charity has said that full bursary placements have “improved employability and raised educational attainment and aspirations” for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in the UK.

The Royal SpringBoard analysed the academic records of pupils given bursaries to attend boarding schools by the foundation since 2013.

In total, the scheme has funded 716 pupils at 90 boarding schools, of which 83 are from the independent sector.

More than eight in 10 bursary pupils (82%) have secured a place at university, compared to 26% of disadvantaged students nationally.

Around half of school leavers supported by the Royal Springboard have since secured a place at a ‘top third most selective university’ – institutions which, on average, set the highest Ucas admissions tariffs. On average, only one in 20 disadvantaged students nationally gains a place at one of these elite universities.

Over 80% of pupils supported by the foundation come from some of the UK’s poorest regions and three-quarters are from families living in temporary, rented or social housing.


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The foundation says it does not “cherry-pick” the brightest children but matches students to schools based on their unique educational profile.

In a statement, the foundation’s patron Princess Anne said: “It demonstrates that academically, pastorally and socially, these children flourish in their schools and beyond. It shows that those who are supported by bursaries feel a responsibility to encourage their friends and peers at home to raise their aspirations.”

The charity was formed in 2017 with the merger of The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation (SpringBoard) and The Royal National Children’s Foundation. This impact report is the first to be released since the merger and uses data from the SpringBoard-funded bursaries.

Children are typically referred via local authorities, charities, community organisations and state schools (typically those without their own post-16 facilities).

Ian Davenport, the Royal SpringBoard’s chief executive, said: “Perhaps the finding I am most proud of is that such a large proportion of the pupils we have supported to date are in some form of sustained employment, education or training.

“A boarding school education offers more than high-quality teaching and learning. It can also provide a supportive and stable pastoral environment, where expectations are high, and aspiration is encouraged. These close-knit round-the-clock school communities, with the house system at their heart, give pupils the opportunity to flourish in a rich culture of learning, friendship, arts and sports.

“It’s also important to build a ripple effect out into these children and young people’s communities, so that we help to shift the aspirations and achievements of a growing number of children born into poverty or facing disadvantage within the UK.”