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.
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.
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.
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…’
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?
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.