School of Education

Children in care benefit from private education

Children in and on the ‘edge of’ care attending state boarding or independent schools secure significant educational gains, independent research has found. 

New research, commissioned by Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation (RNCSF), led by Professor David Murphy, found that children in and on the ‘edge of’ care who have the opportunity to attend state boarding or independent schools enjoy greater stability and secure significantly improved educational outcomes.

The researchers from the School of Education developed a control group of children in care who shared the same, or similar, grades, care profiles, ethnic backgrounds and gender to those who were supported by the charity over a ten-year period.

The study showed that children in care are four times more likely to achieve ‘good’ passes in English and mathematics at GCSE if they attend a state boarding or independent school.

For children able to attend private schools, there were also proven financial benefits including lower social care costs and increased earning potential equates to around £2.75m for every 100 children able to attend.

The charity has also released data from its’ own analysis that shows care-experienced children supported attending a boarding school are five times more likely to take and secure A-levels, and thereafter to progress to higher education.

Professor David Murphy said of the study:

“We have carried out the first research study using UK administrative data to build a matched control group to test the effectiveness of a boarding school intervention for children who are either in or at the edge of care.

Our study suggests there is reason to be optimistic about the potential educational benefits for this group of children attending a state or independent boarding school. Where previous research has highlighted a reluctance from children’s social care professionals to support looked after children to engage in similar schemes, our evaluation of the Broadening Educational Pathways scheme found greater willingness from professionals engaged in the careful and rigorous approaches taken through a well-delivered intervention by RNCSF.

Findings indicate both positive academic and potential economic benefits of the boarding intervention and, perhaps most importantly, interviews we conducted with young recipients of the scheme show that, in their view, such opportunities can be life changing."

Children’s and Families Minister Clare Coutinho said of the new research: “Today’s research demonstrates how effective good support can be in improving outcomes for care-experienced children and broadening their opportunities.”

You can read the full research report (PDF) and article in today's The Times.

Posted on Tuesday 25th July 2023

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