The Department for Education, represented by Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, joined forces with the Royal National Children’s Foundation (RNCF) to host a conference designed to promote the value of boarding school placements for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
The ‘Bridging the Gap 2016’ conference attracted 35 delegates from various Local Authority departments who have a responsibility for vulnerable and disadvantaged children. In addition, a number of Heads of Boarding School were in attendance, to offer an informed view of the reality of boarding school life and the considerable benefits assisted boarding can provide to a disadvantaged young person.
Representatives from partner organisations such as Buttle UK, Camelia Botnar Foundation, Addaction, Creating Chances Trust, Boarding Schools’ Association and the Independent Association of Prep Schools were also present at the conference.
The agenda for ‘Bridging the Gap’ included a discussion on the advantages of placing a young person in a boarding school versus the alternative option of keeping them in the care system; the type of child most suited to the transition to a boarding school; the role of Local Authorities in progressing this national step change and various case studies exemplifying the success of Assisted Boarding. Lord Nash outlined his personal support for Assisted Boarding, encouraging Local Authorities and the RNCF to further strengthen their working relationship.
Speaking at the event, Lord Nash said, “Boarding schools can be transformative – they can be life changing and even life saving. The work of the RNCF shows that. 94% of the children helped by the charity complete their education and go on to lead full and safe lives – which is really impressive. My ambition is for the RNCF and the assisted boarding network to help many more vulnerable children and to spread our work far and wide’.
Commenting on the Bridging the Gap initiative, RNCF Chief Executive, Mr Geoffrey Dennis said, “The stigma still exists that boarding schools remain the preserve of the affluent elite and we want to challenge that misconception. The RNCF has a long and established track record (approaching 190 years!) in transforming the lives of children facing abuse, neglect or trauma by enabling them to access the tailored care and structured, supportive living environment provided by a boarding school – within both the state and independent sectors. The reality is that, for the right young person, a boarding school placement represents a fraction of the costs associated with funding a child in care, with the additional benefit of a vastly improved social, emotional and educational outcome. We are grateful for Lord Nash’s support today and for the Department of Education’s funding of the Bridging the Gap initiative which we believe is critical to helping more vulnerable young people to enjoy the privilege of a boarding school education, for all the right reasons.”
The ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference took place Thursday 10th November at the DfE in Westminster and the event was free to attend.