Boarding schools can help social mobility


Lord Adonis who made it to Oxford University .from a disadvantaged background, largely due to the support of a state boarding school- Kingham Hill School in Oxfordshire -has got involved with SpringBoard, a charity that was launched last week ,(not to be confused with the literacy charity of the same name) . The charity will offer hundreds of boarding school places to disadvantaged pupils. Based on the Arnold Foundation scheme set up by Rugby School more than a decade ago, it will work with state schools and charities such as IntoUniversity, which helps young people from difficult backgrounds into higher education, and Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy, which mentors young black boys.  Adonis wrote in the Times (13 November) ‘Within a decade Springboard aims to have 2,000 disadvantaged pupils on bursaries at boarding schools across the country. If it succeeds, it will not only transform the lives of the children but it will also change private boarding schools for the better. This is a great way to help improve social mobility and build a one-nation society.’  Can boarding help? This is Adonis’ view: ‘Boarding schools have a key role to play. They offer a unique type of education — security, structure, pastoral care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I know from my own experience that boarding schools can make all the difference to children who are in care or who are growing up in chaotic or floundering families.’

SBSA (State Boarding Schools Association) schools claim to provide high quality boarding at the lowest possible cost. You pay only the cost of boarding as the education at SBSA schools is free (state education is free). This means that rather than paying £25,000+ a year for an independent boarding school, you would probably be paying less than £10,000 a year at a state boarding school. There are 38 state boarding schools across the UK which are attended by more than 5,000 children.

Fees vary but range between £8-£12,000, compared to £10,000-£30,000 in the independent sector.  State boarding schools are witnessing a surge in popularity, with the number of places rising by a quarter over the past decade – an increase driven, probably  in part, by family breakdown, which has in effect left some children homeless.

One problem though is that they are forbidden to use any of their fees income on capital projects, or to borrow money to pay to build facilities. The net result is that rather too  many are in a state of disrepair.


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