Vulnerable children in South Yorkshire will be given more chance to attend some of the country's highest quality independent and state boarding schools.
The Boarding School Partnerships Information Service – which will be launched in collaboration with the Boarding Schools’ Association – will link local authorities up with a host of children’s charities and boarding schools so they can work together to identify more young people on the edge of care who can be put forward for bursaries and scholarships and help them attend some of the country’s best schools.
Launching the new partnership, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Lord Agnew said: "Children who have previously been in care or are at risk of care have often gone through difficult, challenging experiences that can have a lasting impact throughout their lives.
"These placements won’t be right for every child, but the pastoral care and educational support provided by our top boarding schools can have profound benefits for some young people.
"I’m delighted that so many organisations are working with us to help create more of these opportunities for these children, helping them to get the best start in life and to go on to reach their full potential, no matter what their background."
The latest Government figures show the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers is narrowing – by more than 10 per cent at Key Stage 2 and seven per cent at GCSE since 2011.
The Department for Education said vulnerable children – including who have previously been in care, have left the care system or are at risk of care – still often have poorer educational outcomes. Research shows a correlation between the boarding environment and improved educational outcomes for vulnerable children.
A DfE spokesman said a boarding school placement can offer these children the possibility of term-time respite that also helps them to develop relationships with the adults working at those schools, alongside a home environment they can return to during the weekends or holidays. These types of arrangements can be particularly beneficial where children are living with parents experiencing mental health difficulties, or with extended families who are unable to cope full-time with a child.
The partnership will aim to create more opportunities for children on the edge of care in addition to the 1,000 young people who are already supported by charities and boarding schools.
Chief executive of the Boarding Schools’ Association, Robin Fletcher, said: "Britain’s boarding schools provide an unrivalled education and the kind of individual attention, security and structure that can especially help young people who have had a difficult start to their lives.
"The involvement of charities and local authorities in boarding school placements shows just what can be achieved and we look forward to doing even more."