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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 17:12 GMT
More boarding at state schools
Anonymous pupils entering school
State boarding fees are estimated at 7,000 a year
A growing number of state schools in England could start offering boarding places, the government has suggested.

A 1,400-pupil mixed school in Solihull, West Midlands, is hoping to lead the way and is talking to ministers about adding a boarding house.

Kingshurst City Technology College said if plans were agreed, it would offer some of the places to children in care.

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis said state boarding schools did an excellent job and he wanted to build on that.

A spokesman for Kingshurst, which is being incorporated into Labour's academy programme for inner cities, said the proposal was in line with its aim to attract pupils from all backgrounds.

Lord Adonis said: "The Kingshurst proposal would introduce an important new boarding element to the work of academies."

PFI funding

Across England, there are 34 maintained boarding schools.

If Kingshurst was to be given the go ahead, the move could pave the way for others to follow.

Sir Cyril Taylor, of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, is keen for more schools to take on boarders to benefit children in care.

He said boarding fees at state schools would cost about 7,000 a year and schools could use private finance initiative funding to cover the dormitory building costs which he estimates at 25,000 per bed.

The saving to the taxpayer could be substantial as the annual cost for children in care was as much as 40,000, he said.

But no more than 20% of places should be offered to children in care to prevent schools from resembling orphanages, he added.

"The school would not like that, and nor would the pupils," he said.

"It could only be for children that could cope with the boarding school environment and were willing."

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