Northumberland boarding school could offer children in care more stability, says headteacher

The headmaster of a Northumberland school says offering a boarding school provision could provide greater stability for children in care

Andrew Day Director of Northumberland church og England Academy
Andrew Day Director of Northumberland church og England Academy

A school leader has raised plans for a state boarding school in Northumberland which he says will offer “stability” for looked after children.

Andrew Day, executive director at Northumberland Church of England Academy, in Ashington, is yet to discuss the idea with the school’s governors but says the boarding provision would offer some children, especially those in foster care, a more settled lifestyle.

The school which caters for 2,500 pupils currently has 18 looked after children, or children in care, on its records.

Mr Day, who went to a state-funded boarding school in South Africa as a child growing up, says every year some of the most vulnerable children in the county are moved from one care placement to another.

This, according to Mr Day, could prove disruptive to a child’s education and hinder them from achieving their full potential.

He told The Journal: “A key advantage of using residential schooling is that it can provide children with stability at home and at school.

“By providing respite to foster carers and birth parents, boarding school could help keep families together, reducing the number of people entering the care system and reducing the likelihood of placement breakdown for those moving into care.

“It could also attract more foster carers to the system in an attempt to tackle the significant shortfall in carers throughout the county.”

The Northumberland Church of England Academy is co-sponsored by the Duke of Northumberland and the church.

The four-year-old academy, which cost £51m to build, brought together 10 separate schools and three neighbouring communities in what was the biggest single new-build contract delivered under the national academies programme.

It was the first all-age academy developed on multiple sites in the UK, and now teaching thousands of pupils in buildings at five separate sites in Ashington, Lynemouth and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

It was developed to improve educational standards in Ashington’s former Hirst High School pyramid, where pupils’ results were below national requirements.

Mr Day says it is the school’s duty to give children the best opportunities in some of the county’s most deprived areas.

He said: “When you go to a boarding school like Eton pupils are working from 9am until around 10.45pm. But that’s not all classroom-based. There are a whole host of activities to enrich the children’s lives, to keep them busy and to teach them how to manage their lives.

“It’s about giving our children , some of whom come from very disadvantaged backgrounds, the best opportunities from a state-funded education. A boarding school doesn’t suit every child and that is fine. But it would be good to at least offer the provision.

“A lot of our parents work in the armed forces or have busy lives and residential schooling could prove a popular option.”

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