Michael Gove is making a speech tonight to Barnardo’s in which he variously describes the current distribution of educational opportunity in Britain as a "scandal" and "indefensibly unequal", adding that "tackling it head on is a central mission for the Conservative Party." He then sets out a variety of policies which a Conservative Government would implement to "transform our country’s education system".
Most of what he said is not new – such as the proposal to take schools out of local authority hands and allow organisations with a record in educational success to take them over, introducing home-school behavioural contracts and making the recruitment and rewarding of teachers more flexible.
But one passage stands out as containing a new proposal with regard to children in care:
"I believe there is considerably further we can go in expanding state provision of boarding school places. The Government has a pathfinder scheme to provide residential school places for children in need but so far only 17 children have been placed.
"There are many, many, more looked after children who could benefit from the expansion of residential education and I believe that this uniquely deserving group should be also be able to take advantage of the improvements pioneered by academy schools.
"That is why I want to explore setting up new, state-funded and supported, residential academies to allow academy providers and other organisations with a background in education and child welfare to open schools with a residential facility so that children in the greatest need can secure a placement which offers them the very highest standards of education and care.
"Working with local authorities, the money which follows looked after children through the care system could be channelled, alongside our pupil premium, to provide new provision for those we have failed in the past."