Academies and free schools in rush to open state-funded boarding schools

Children from less privileged backgrounds could benefit from surge in applications

Long the preserve of the upper classes, a wave of cut-price boarding schools providing a state-funded education could be made available to children from less privileged backgrounds.

New statistics show that there has been a huge rise in applications from academies, educational charities and individuals involved in the free-schools movement to arrange boarding facilities for pupils.

In just the first four months of 2013, the State Boarding Schools’ Association (SBSA) said it had received 20 applications from those interested in opening new institutions. This compares with only one application per annum over the past five years. These new schools would offer a free education and charge only for the cost of boarding – reducing the demands on parents’ bank accounts from more than £25,000 a year to around £10,000.

Although it is still a substantial monetary outlay, the charges can cancel out childcare costs and it is hoped the schools could provide an option for more children from families experiencing problems at home.

The new generation of boarding schools comes in the wake of the inner-city London school Durand Academy’s plan to open the “Eton of the state sector” in West Sussex for 600 children.

Three academies opened boarding facilities last year, with five more announcing plans to do the same. The Wellington Academy in Tidworth, Wiltshire, sponsored by the £30,000-a-year Wellington College, also  offered boarding places to 100 pupils in 2012. Even the elite Eton College  is planning to sponsor a state boarding school, Holyport College, which will open in 2014 just seven miles  from the public school in a village near leafy Windsor.

The Harefield Academy in Hillingdon, west London, was the first academy to open a boarding house nearby, for 50 of its students in 2012.

Headmistress Lynn Gadd said the school decided to offer boarding to help pupils from working-class areas.

“For children who are on the verge of failing because they’re not in class, if you put them in boarding school it’s going to make a difference – it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

“There are also lots of children who we call sofa surfers. They move from mum to dad to gran, so they’re never in one place to do their homework or have a place to call their own.”

However, she admitted very few of the families can afford to pay the £10,000 fees to cover the costs to board over a year – saying that it could sometimes be a struggle to find funds for children who would benefit most from the experience.

“The Government funds the building and the facilities but it doesn’t fund the places,” Ms Gadd said. “So you have to go to charitable trusts for funding and local authorities for financial sponsorship.”

Melvyn Roffe, a senior member of the SBSA and the headmaster of  the Wymondham College state  boarding school in Norfolk, said: “It’s sort of going back to the future. It  was a form of education that was very popular years ago and now it’s come back around.”

Case study: It’s like a family; everyone looks out for each other

Lauryn Nwaeze, 16, is completing her GSCEs at Harefield Academy and moved to the boarding house at the school in September.

I moved because of the long commute to school which would have been an hour-and-a-half.

It’s really helped me because it’s so close to the school that if I ever need help from teachers they’re literally two minutes away. My homework has improved because we have scheduled study time.

I quite like being in the boarding house because it’s like a family; everyone looks out for each other.

If you stay at weekends you’re allowed to do what you like but obviously we have a curfew – for Year 11’s that’s 10pm.

Before I came I thought boarding was going to be like in Harry Potter but it’s really normal and you’re in safe hands. I’ve got my own room and toilet, and we have a head house-mistress and people who look after us and keep us in line.

I don’t mind not being at home because my mum’s a nurse and she works quite a lot. What I love the most about being here is that I’m not on my own as much, and you also get to be more independent without your parents.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee