Support for Boarding: Grant Criteria

We have been supporting boarding places for young people for more than 65 years. We have seen that boarding can support a child’s developmental needs through providing routine, increased stability and emotional and social support. The level of aspiration offered by a boarding education can also help to raise a young person’s educational attainment.

We are not currently accepting applications for Support for Boarding from parents/carers. 

If you are a Support Worker, working directly with a child where a boarding place might be appropriate and they meet our criteria, please call 020 7798 6233 or email and we will arrange for someone to call you to discuss.

We will reopen for September 2024 starters in Summer 2023. Please keep checking this page for updates.

Boarding criteria

Buttle UK funds Boarding School places for children and young people impacted by an ongoing significant crisis at home. By ongoing we mean that the situation is unlikely to change, or may even worsen, over the next 5 years.

Support For Boarding Grants fund a nurturing educational environment for a child to develop and learn and access to activities that promote good wellbeing.

As we usually place a child in a school within 1.5 hours from the family home, they can visit and will return home for holidays. Young people tell us that being in boarding school can help with family relationships. The long-term aim is to support the child’s development, help keep the family together and avoid a more significant intervention being needed.

Who can make an application?

We accept applications directly from parents and carers. If needed, parents and carers can ask family, friends or professionals for support to complete the application.

Boarding schools can signpost families to Support For Boarding Grants but the application must be made by parents/carers. Boarding schools cannot make an application directly to Buttle UK on behalf of a family.

Who can we help:

Children must meet ALL the following criteria:

  • Be aged 11-16*
  • Be living on a low income and experiencing financial hardship**
  • Experiencing an ongoing crisis that is having a significant and enduring impact on all three of the following:
    • the child’s social wellbeing
    • their emotional wellbeing
    • their educational engagement
  • The family are actively engaging with support such as Social Services, but because the crisis is ongoing, that support alone cannot resolve it.Please be aware that we cannot help everyone who applies to us, even if your circumstances meet all the criteria. We prioritise support for the cases who most need it.

*Age of child
Schools take on new pupils each September, making decisions about bursaries 6-12 months before a child starts. We suggest that parents and carers make applications to us the year before a place is needed. We will only fund secondary school boarding places.

**What do we mean by financial hardship?
We don’t set a firm figure for income as many factors impact it, such as the number of children in the home or which part of the UK you live in. As a general guide, in 2021, annual household income for boarding cases that Buttle UK supported was between £13,500 and £38,000. We will always look at each case in detail to understand the circumstances, and we will request evidence of household income and expenditure.

We are unable to support applications:

  • Where poverty is the main factor.
  • Where parental separation is the main factor.
  • When a school has been chosen for a particular type of education; this might be academic preference, sport, drama or music. We do not fund day school places.
  • When a child’s needs could reasonably be met within the state day school system.
  • When the application is for a place at a specialist educational establishment.
  • When it would be unsafe for a child to return home during school holidays.
  • Where children are living or normally residing outside of the UK.

We do not normally consider applications for children with Looked After status unless there is a current plan for the child to return to the family home and boarding will be used to support that arrangement.

How it works

We work with partner schools and other funders to build fully funded bursaries in residential schools so that young people can attend boarding schools and benefit from the environment. We support placements in independent and state boarding schools.

You do not need to have chosen a boarding school when you make an application to us – we will help you to find a suitable school from our network of partner schools. We try to select a school which is within 1.5 hours of the family home.

We work with schools with Good or Excellent reports (from Ofsted, Estyn, Education and Training Inspectorate, Education Scotland and the Independent Schools Inspectorate) for the Boarding/Care element to facilitate safe places. We also want schools to provide a good level of education for children. We prioritise placing children in schools where there is an emphasis on pastoral support rather than academic or talent achievements.

Read about the impact of a boarding place and young people’s experiences here.


We’re keen to receive applications from parents and carers who have a child who will benefit from a place in a boarding school and who are eligible for support. Please note:

  • All applications have to be completed online
  • You need to register on the application system before starting an application

We have a three-stage process for Boarding applications:

Stage 1: We ask for family and household information and a supporting statement describing the home situation. At this stage we may turn the application down or invite you to fill in a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2: The second stage is very detailed and you will be asked to provide more information including an educational history, detail and evidence of the household finances, and supporting statements from professionals. DO NOT SEND this information unless you are asked to complete a Stage 2 application.

Stage 3: We will visit the young person and parent / carer in their home or set up a video/telephone call to discuss the case in detail and explore your concerns and questions about boarding.

Only after all three stages have been completed will we confirm whether there is funding for a place.

At any stage we may contact you to ask for additional information or to clarify information you have provided.  Any delay in providing information will affect the assessment. We may also have to halt the application, at any stage, if all of our funding has been committed.

You do not need to have a boarding school in mind when you make an application to us – we will help you to find a suitable school from our network of partner schools if we progress the application.

Schools take on new pupils each September. We open to boarding applications in Autumn each year and you will be notified of the closing date. This is to consider applications for the following September. We cannot accept applications after the stage 1 closing date due to the level of requests we receive.

Before starting an application please do read through our criteria carefully to ensure you are eligible.

If you are ready to start an application, please start here.

If you would like to find out more please contact: