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 by Kim Chadwick
, posted On 7 Nov '19
 Outreach Manager at Harper Adams University

Care Leavers and Higher Education, what support is on offer?

In my role, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with students up and down the United Kingdom. Some of these young people are unfortunately facing barriers to access higher education, apprenticeships, work and experience. This includes care experienced individuals – and my blog will focus on the support available for these individuals.

In 2018, 99,672 children were in care across the UK. With 37% of young people entering care before the age of 4. This disruption is proven to have an impact on education, aspiration and attainment. The kind of things that may seem inconsequential to some, can be very challenging when you don’t have the family networks to call on for advice. For example; learning to time manage and complete assignments in time, managing living arrangements, bills, washing, the list goes on.

Although, the local authorities are fantastic in providing so much of this support, it can’t be done in isolation - and by working collaboratively we can better reach out to these young people and promote the opportunities and support available more widely, as only 7% of students in care access higher education. Together, we can change that.

National Care Leavers week

This past week, the 24th-31st October 2019 was the National Care Leavers week and there were lots of events up down the country promoting the Care Leaver Covenant and encouraging organisations and higher educations institutions to make their pledges to support these young people. My institution, Harper Adams University were one, amongst a number of universities and businesses to make their pledges.

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What can we do in schools to showcase this work?

Firstly, download the My Covenant App and visit the website where you can see all the pledges made – including from Harper Adams University - Secondly, look at some of the local and national offers, what universities and/or business are doing - and read some of the case studies to see it in practice.

When reading some of the pledges, highlight those that stand out, which you think may benefit your school/college or students. Below are just some of the things I have spotted whilst writing this blog:

  • Contextualised offer making (lower grade entry) - significantly reduces barriers to HE around previous attainment
  • Opportunities for work experience during school
  • Apprenticeship opportunities
  • Financial support
  • Career advice
  • Outreach provision in schools and colleges
  • Mental health and well-being support
  • CPD opportunities for Teachers and Advisors

The list goes on and on and on. It’s a really great platform for students who are care experienced to utilise whilst they explore their next stage of their lives - but it’s also great for teachers and advisers as a tool kit and a point of reference for supporting your students too.

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