A school and college
guide to supporting
care experienced and
into higher education
Care experienced and estranged students are
currently under-represented in higher education
and we need your help to change this. As a
teacher, you can play an important part in
inspiring and supporting these young people to
achieve their potential.
Here are my five top tips to ensure the transition
to higher education can be as smooth as possible
for your students.
1. Find the right higher education provider
Look for providers who have made a public
commitment to supporting care experienced and
estranged students. Have they signed the Stand
Alone Pledge and the Care Leaver Covenant? Are
they members of the National Network for the
Education of Care Leavers (NNECL)? Engagement
with these organisations is a clear message that
support is available and these institutions have
committed to developing their offer for these
2. Consider alternative routes into higher
Not all students feel confident about their ability
to progress directly to higher education. Would
they prefer to study an Integrated Foundation
Year to prepare them for undergraduate study? Or
perhaps an apprenticeship or foundation degree
would help to build confidence? There are a range
of options available to suit all students.
3. Encourage students to inform universities
about their circumstances
When universities know that a student is care
experienced or estranged, we can support them
through the entire application process and work
with you to guide and reassure them through their
Also, encourage your students to find out what
support is available to them. At the University
of Sunderland, we provide bespoke support for
all care experienced and estranged students.
This includes a named contact, guaranteed
accommodation, a bursary of £2,000 each year,
regular check-in meetings, help finding part-time
work and so much more.
The Propel website, developed by national charity
Become, provides access to full information about
the support offered at each institution and is a
useful starting point.
4. Help with planning ahead
Work with each student to create a to-do list
which clearly shows key actions in the lead up to
starting university. Applying for accommodation,
bursaries and student finance may have
deadlines so these need to be included too. Care
experienced and estranged students may be
eligible to receive additional financial support,
guaranteed accommodation, personalised support
and priority places to attend summer schools so it
is important to plan ahead.
So many students tell us that they never
considered higher education until a teacher
encouraged them to do so and actually believed
that they could! Ask students how they’re feeling
about university and reassure them that you’re
there to offer support.