Close to Home: Community Boarding Schools and Disadvantaged Children and Youth
This paper is the product of an exploratory study of residential education for disadvantaged children and youth and will be of interest to school developers, policy makers, children's services professionals, and others who are interested in exploring fresh approaches to supporting the healthy development of these young people. The project's purpose was to explore the range of residential school options used by young people with social and economic disadvantages, to ascertain what is known about outcomes for these students, and to develop an agenda for research to extend that knowledge. The number of non-therapeutic residential or boarding schools that serve large numbers of disadvantaged young people is small, and there has been virtually no serious research on their effectiveness. Furthermore, the meaning of boarding away from home frequently is misunderstood when the students in question are poor. To counter this misunderstanding, a new conceptual framework for thinking about boarding options was developed. This paper presents that framework and describes a new school model, the urban or community boarding school, which reflects its logic. Through the results of interviews with families whose children already are attending one of the few existing community boarding schools, the paper provides a preliminary glimpse of the range of young people who might benefit from this option. A discussion of the policy context for establishing community boarding schools using charter school legislation concludes the paper.