https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/08/08/education-in-the-media-wednesday-8-august-2018/

Education in the Media: Wednesday 8 August 2018

Today’s Education in the media blog focuses on the Boarding Schools Partnership, and looks at a piece in the Daily Express about unconditional offers from universities.

Boarding Schools Partnership

Yesterday, Tuesday 7 August, Minister Zahawi appeared on BBC’s Newsnight where he spoke about the Boarding Schools Partnership. This was also covered by BBC News online and the Sun.

The scheme, led by the Boarding School Partnership, focuses on offering vulnerable or looked after children a place in a boarding school to help them both educationally and socially. By signing up to be a part of this scheme, boarding schools offer long-term bursaries of 40 per cent of a vulnerable children’s school fees, with 60 per cent covered by the local authority. So far, 40 boarding schools have signed up to be part of the programme.

The Norfolk Boarding School Partnership has been a pioneer of this plan, and has seen great success. Independent schools such as Harrow and Eton College have also signed up.

This commitment from some leading schools is a promising step to improve opportunities in education for vulnerable young people who can benefit from renewed stability in their lives.

In Norfolk, 52 vulnerable young people who were either in or at risk of going into care have been placed at 11 boarding schools working in a partnership with Norfolk County Council.

Research published on the partnership showed that almost two thirds of children were taken off the local authority risk register after spending at least three years in boarding school. Many children who were expected to go into care came off the risk register completely and many children left the care system.

It also showed that a higher proportion of children in the boarding school placements attained A*-C or equivalent grades in both GCSE Maths and English, compared to all looked after children in 2016.

We ask all local authorities to consider these findings in the hope of improving outcomes for vulnerable children.

Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said:

It is right that all children should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and the work of the Boarding School Partnerships demonstrates that - for the right person, at the right school, at the right time – boarding school can be highly effective in improving both social and educational outcomes. I urge local authorities to consider these findings and the positive impact boarding school placements can have on vulnerable children.

Unconditional Offers

Today, Wednesday 8 August, the Daily Express (p14) published an opinion piece from commentator, Fergus Kelly on the rise in unconditional offers being issued by universities.

We agree with the sentiment that the increase in unconditional offers is irresponsible of universities, and it runs the risk of students making the wrong decision for their futures. We encourage universities to ensure they are offering places to students who have the right skills and ability to succeed on their chosen course.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

The rise in unconditional offers is completely irresponsible to students and universities must start taking a lead, by limiting the number they offer.

Places at universities should only be offered to those who will benefit from them, and giving out unconditional offers just to put ‘bums on seats’ undermines the credibility of the university system.

Along with the Office for Students, I am closely monitoring the number being issued and fully expect the regulator to take appropriate action. Unconditional offers risk distracting students from the final year of their schooling, and swaying their decisions does them a disservice – universities must act in the interest of students, not in filling spaces.

Read more about other work between independent and state schools in an agreement between the Department and the Independent Schools Council here.