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Consultation on New National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools

on Friday, 19 March 2021.

The Department for Education (DfE) launched the long-awaited consultation on revised National Minimum Standards (NMSB) for boarding schools and residential special schools in England in December 2020.

The current NMSB date from 2015 and an overhaul has been expected for some time.

The NMSB are designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children for whom accommodation is provided by boarding schools by providing standards for securing outcomes for boarders below which no school is expected to fall. They sit alongside legislative requirements relating to health and safety, fire and planning as well as the Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014.

The changes proposed extend to the structure of the NMBS as well as the standards themselves and reflect enhanced expectations in terms of the quality of boarding provision. A key proposal is the replacement of the requirement to meet certain standards on an 'adequate' or 'suitable' basis with that of 'good'. The new NMSB also place more emphasis on the individual needs of children and the quality of staff training.

There are also three new standards: Standard 16, Standard 17 and Standard 22.3 and 22.4. These reflect the separation of standards on behaviour and bullying and recognition of the need to make arrangements for educational guardianship more rigorous.

The proposals do bring a welcome emphasis on the social and emotional dimensions of boarding school life as well as enhanced requirements in relation to the provision and oversight of educational guardianship. There is also clearer recognition that professionals who interact with boarders must be well-trained, experienced and suitably skilled.

How We Can Help

We have collaborated with QEGUK and AEGIS to produce a short series of articles which consider some of the key issues that the new NMS will need to address if we are to have a welfare regime for children, being accommodated away from home, that is fit for both home and international students. You can access the articles through OnStream.

For further information on the new National Minimum Standards for boarding schools, please contact Kris Robbetts in our Regulatory Compliance team on 07795 662796, or complete the form below.

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