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Town hall bosses shun care scheme

PUBLISHED: 11:43 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:17 12 August 2010

COUNCILS have failed to take advantage of a government scheme to send children in care to boarding schools in a bid to improve their life chances and educational standards.

COUNCILS have failed to take advantage of a government scheme to send children in care to boarding schools in a bid to improve their life chances and educational standards.

Bexley, Greenwich and Bromley councils have opted not to send vulnerable children in their care to boarding schools, despite the government launching the scheme two years ago. The initiative was set up in 2006 to tackle the appalling educational standards achieved by children in care and save councils up to £3,000 a week or £150,000 a year in residential care costs.

Children's charity Barnardo's revealed that after 11 years of compulsory schooling, 80 per cent of care leavers finish without any qualifications.

In addition, 10 per cent have attended 10 or more schools as they are moved from one foster home to another.

There are no care homes in Bexley borough but 206 children are in care.

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: "So far we haven't identified any children who would fit the scheme's parameters. We think it is a very good scheme and would be happy to use it if we identify a child with appropriate needs."

Nationally, only 15 children from care have been placed in boarding schools.

Greenwich council refused to say whether they would start putting children in care into boarding schools but did provide the following statement: "Improving the lives of Looked After Children is a priority for the council and careful consideration will be given to any proposals which can help achieve this."

Currently there are 509 children in care in Greenwich and, of these, 365 are of school age.

Bromley council, who have 130 children of school age in their care, have signed up to the scheme but have yet to place any children in boarding schools.

Their spokesperson said: "We see this as just one part of our wider strategy for placement choice for Looked After Children and for helping to keep vulnerable children within their own families."

This month, the government announced it was ploughing £10 million into expanding state boarding schools over the next three years which would mean more places available for vulnerable children and those in care.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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