My letter to the editor of The Times, below, was published on 7 February 2017:
Nicola Woolcock reports that social workers have blocked access to boarding schools for vulnerable youngsters, and not for the first time.
On the two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2009, I was National Director of the Boarding Schools’ Association, which included almost 40 state boarding schools. The willingness of the schools to make places available for disadvantaged youngsters, offering an excellent education and, for term time at least, a ‘home away from home’, was wholehearted and compelling.
Social workers were downright hostile. Their resistance was unshakable and shocking. Great opportunities? No. Education as a route out of poverty and disadvantage to better things? Not interested. I will never forget explaining the 2009 scheme to a group of social workers in the North of England. I was met with sullen silence.
And here we are again: undeterred, the Buttle Trust and the schools have kept going. They are to be commended. These are life-changing possibilities. Offering them is worth the effort. But social workers? They say no. How dare they?