State money available for ‘public’ schools to take ‘bright’ cared-for children

Janet Downs's picture


DfE implies private is superior to state

Scholarships will be available for ‘gifted children in care’ from next September, Nadhim Zahawi, the Children's minister, will announce this week, reports the Telegraph.

Cash-strapped councils will bear part of the cost

Ten hubs will be set up to place these children in private schools, the Telegraph reports.  The cost will be borne on a 40/60 basis by councils and the schools.  Placements will be coordinated by local authorities, the schools and social workers.  As if the latter haven’t already got enough to do.

Scheme implies private education superior to state-funded provision

The proposal would mean ‘hundreds of cared for children getting their first taste of education at an independent school,’ says the Telegraph.  This implies a ‘taste’ of private schooling is superior to the full meal offered by state schools.

Bright cared-for children will have access to public schools, says Telegraph

The Telegraph’s first paragraph says these ‘gifted’ cared-for pupils would get ‘discounted places at public schools’.   Later the paper says they will be fully-funded.   Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, told the Telegraph that the scheme would ‘allow the state to fund children’s places in day private schools for the first time’.

He’s obviously forgotten the Assisted Places Scheme.

Fully-funded is not a discounted offer.  Private schools are not all public ones (but calling them that gives extra kudos).  Day school places aren’t boarding ones.  Yet the Telegraph says the scheme will be ‘a significant expansion on work by the Royal National Springboard Foundation, a charity which has placed hundreds of children in boarding schools on fully-funded bursaries…’  

Gifted cared-for children will get help with their UCAS forms, says minister

The scheme will allow cared-for children to get help filling in their UCAS forms even if they aren’t awarded a full-time place, Zahawi told the paper.  They could take part in debating clubs and have music tuition.

It appears the children’s minister is unaware that state schools also help pupils complete UCAS forms and offer debating clubs.  And there was a time when peripatetic music teachers gave pupils one-to-one tuition in state schools.  But lack of funding severely reduced that provision.

Weren’t Music Hubs supposed to fill this gap?

Another ill-thought-out scheme valued more for its PR value than improving education

This scheme is another example of a scheme crafted for its propaganda value.   It will cost the Department for Education little as private schools and councils are expected to finance it.   It may be that the DfE will continue paying pupil premium for these eligible children.  If so, this would be public money diverted to the private sector.

Such policies reveal just how much ministers feel about the state system they are supposed to support: so-called ‘gifted’ children are better off in fee-paying independent schools.

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John Mountford's picture
Sun, 09/12/2018 - 18:20

Here we have it, confirmation that to become a Minister of Education in this government, one has to come up with outrageous crap and substitute it in place of common sense. Nadhim Zahawi, the Children's minister, joins the ranks of the Gibb brigade, famous for their tenacoius belief that if any service is to be valued it has to be privately manged because that is always better than anything the state can provide.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 10/12/2018 - 10:33

John - this is one situtation where English snobbery influences policy.   Too many politicians and sections of the media think private is better than state (the Economist admitted that the low-fee, no-frills school opened in Durham would have the 'kudos' of being private). Worse, there's a deep-seated belief that for  'bright' children to thrive they must be segregated from the lumpen majority. 

But this segregation has a negative downside.  Children and young people segregated in this way live in a bubble where they only mix with people from a similar background making them unsuited for positions of influence in adult life.  But in England, a narrow, segregated education is deemed better preparation for leadership.

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