Local Authority Update

 

September 2016

 How We Can Help YouThe impact of a boarding school place for vulnerable young people

  When considering boarding schools, as an alternative option for vulnerable young people, it is essential to recognise the benefits and possible pitfalls of this alternative long term plan.

We know that every young person is different, they come from varying backgrounds which will deter their level of need and support. Whatever their story, and the reason for falling within the criteria of RNCF, it is consistently amasing, mind-blowing, that so many of these vulnerable lost souls become confident, happy, social and academic achievers.

In addition to this, these young people then instil a positive feeling within their own families their guardians and siblings who are witnessing this journey through education,  which can be life changing, for those who want to grab this outstanding opportunity.

Improving the outcomes for vulnerable young people that is why we are so passionate, about we do.

THE START OF THE JOURNEY:

Many of you reading this report will have a clear understanding of the RNCF criteria which is all about helping young people. They may have suffered from neglect, trauma, or loss, they may have witnessed domestic violence, been severely bullied, and are in a very vulnerable and lonely place. Many are on the edge of being taken in to Care.

RNCF’s initial application process is thorough, which includes a visit to the family home; meeting the guardian and the young person, benefit letters and bank statements are obtained, and at least 2 references from professional people which would support the boarding need. The Trustees of RNCF hold meetings to consider all new applications that have been prepared, and boarding grants are then approved.

RNCF support from as young as 7 years old and that support will remain until they complete their secondary education. RNCF carry out in-depth annual checks with their guardians and their boarding schools however, to ensure these families do remain within the criteria of RNCF. It is a sad confession, but many home environments appear to deteriorate rather than improve.

Our long term commitment, enables a young person to build in confidence and thrive throughout their teenage years. Some of our younger foundationers are therefore supported for up to eleven years. This is a life changing opportunity.

Why are we so passionate about helping these young people to go to a boarding school?

SCHOOLS:  What can they offer?

PASTORAL CARE:

  • Health centres, counselling – well-being of the child, physical and emotional (self-harming is becoming an increasingly identified concern)
  • Structure, routine – that many children crave for
  • Stability, consistency of care – boarding school will be there throughout their teenage years, when other support may falter. There will always be someone – a friend or member of staff there to support them
  • Life changing improvements, breaking the generation cycle of vulnerability
  • Diversity – for both the young person and the school, the enrichment for all pupils and staff to live together with people from a huge range of backgrounds, and cultures
  • Security
  • Sense of belonging
  • Having a role model, especially if an absent parent has been a poor role model
  • Raising aspirations – given the opportunity, may will reach their full potential, in the right environment
  • Learning how to live within, and be part of a local community, and experience the wider community
  • Breaking the cycle of generation vulnerability. The knock on effect not only benefits the child, but can be positive for the whole family! A child at boarding school may reduce stress within the family home; and where a child goes home for holidays and exiat weekends, they can enjoy prime time together, without the pressures of time-keeping, homework etc. this pattern, can help to improve family relationships. It can also increase the determination of that young person to succeed and move on.
  • Receive additional educational help in specific educational areas.

EACH SCHOOL IS DIFFERENT and the needs, character and ability of the young person can be assessed to help suggest schools that would best match that individual.

Some schools are focused on high academic achievement while others may centre their attention to social mobility, sport, drama, art etc …. But all recognise that for a pupil to achieve to the best of their potential, they must be happy.

Many schools have a story, a long history, of where they have come from and why.. it gives a young person a sense of belonging, and can help to raise their aspirations for the future.

THE FUTURE:

RNCF have over the years developed a trusted and respected working relationship with many schools. Presently actively supporting young people at 167 schools, across the UK. RNCF will be increasing the number of schools they work with, at a national level.

RNCF have been working directly with Local Authorities for over 3 years now, and are actively promoting, with support from the Department of Education, this alternative option for young people who are on the edge of being taken into Care.

Some Local Authorities are now part or fully funding boarding school places, and this impact on young people – and again their families is being seen as a life changing opportunity. SUCH a positive step change and is a win win solution.

Of course boarding school is not the right option for all young people, they do need to have the ability to integrate. What does continue to surprise me, is the integrity of the School Heads, who can recognise the ‘potential’ of a young person, and are so keen to give that young person a chance. The importance of collecting initial vital information about the young person is therefore paramount, to reduce the risk of a school placement breaking down.

I have visited a school with a Social Worker and young girl, who did not utter a word. The school were not perturbed but simply said that she deserves a chance. This was 3 years ago, the journey has not been easy but she is thriving and she does have access to all the opportunities and benefits listed above.

OUR CHALLENGE:

There is no SHARED NATIONAL STRATEGY, but RNCF are making a recognised national step-change with our work. We are interacting with more charities who work with vulnerable people, and strive to share relevant options which are beneficial to those who need help.

RNCF are receiving many more applications than they can support due to inadequate funds, but are striving to meet demand with an increase in fundraising activities.

CONCLUSION:

Creating working relationships with more boarding schools, Local Authorities, other professional bodies and funding partners, we are convinced that we can increase the number of young people we support, that are desperately in need of our help.

Staying connected with families and young people for the duration of our support, averaging between 7 to 11 years, enables us to witness their progress. Not all, but a large majority wish to stay in touch after they reach 18 and many now help us to promote our work. Watching a once very young and vulnerable young person move on to university, really is the icing on the cake! Their stories are proof of our success.

 

Chris Hughes

Director of Operations

cjhughes@rncf.org.uk

01932 868622