Send kids in care to boarding school, say Tories

SOUTH Tyneside Tories have unveiled radical plans to educate youngsters in care.

Their ambition is to create a boarding school which will look after and educate teenagers living with foster parents.

They claim it will not only boost GCSE pass rates, but could also cut back on tax payer's costs.

Coun David Potts, leader of the South Tyneside Conservative Party, said: "Willing and able children would be taken out of social care during the academic year, and into a boarding school."

At present, there's 141 children under the age of 18 being looked after by social services and foster parents in the borough, at an annual cost of 25,267 each.

However, Durham School – the nearest independent boarding school – can educate and cater for 11 to 13-year-olds by charging an annual fee of 16,635, and 19,989 for those aged from 14 to 18.

This would be a saving of more than 8,000 and 5,000 respectively.

Coun Potts, who is also representative for the Cleadon and East Boldon wards, said: "The council would need to provide social care outside of term time."

This would cost, according to an average taken from the council's annual fee, just over 6,000. But the council say it would be more like 15,000, as the children would have to be placed with short-term foster parents and this is far more costly than long-term ones.

Coun Potts added: "The scheme gives children an opportunity to gain a first-class education in an inspiring environment."

However, the council claims there are less than 10 children who would actually benefit from such a school.

Coun Jim Foreman, lead member for Children and Young People, said: "The council's priority is to ensure that looked after children are placed in a setting that is most appropriate for their individual needs.

"It is our view that children aged under 11 are best looked after in a family environment, but there is a range of options available for older children."