Saint Felix School in Southwold, Suffolk, was the first to do so, saying that it would provide two fully funded boarding places to orphaned Syrian teenagers.
Fran D’Alcorn, the headmistress, made the offer in response to David Cameron’s announcement that Britain would resettle 4,000 Syrians a year up to 2020 from camps near its borders, and she urged other independent schools to do the same.
A second school, Boundary Oak, a prep school near Fareham in Hampshire, made a similar offer, saying that it would take two Syrian refugee children aged between 7 and 13 as boarders.
The Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), representing 450 schools predominantly in the independent sector, wrote to the prime minister yesterday saying that more schools were ready to offer places to Syrian children.
Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and Adcote School, a girls’ school in Shrewsbury, have also offered to give free places to Syrian boarders. Some other schools have instead offered to act as collection points for clothing to other donations.
Robin Fletcher, director of the BSA, said in his letter to Mr Cameron: “I am writing to let you know that many of our member schools are anxious to support children from Syria in any way they can by offering boarding places to those who would most benefit from the opportunity. We feel this would be life-changing for these children, giving them the chance of a stable, all-round education within a highly supportive pastoral setting.”
The BSA also said that it would advise on an appropriate school for the children, while Boundary Oak said that it would explore whether Syrian children could live in the school during holidays, with staff available. It would also provide counselling, special needs support and an interpreter if needed.