Supporting Care Leavers to Achieve in Further Education

Yet with the right support in place they can achieve highly in further and higher education, and successfully progress into work. To ensure they get the support they need, NIACE has published a guide for FE colleges and other learning providers.

Based on effective approaches across the UK, the guide showcases four colleges that achieved at exemplary level the prestigious accreditation of commitment to students from a care background, the Buttle UK Quality Mark, and a number of other colleges that developed effective practice to support better outcomes for care leavers.

NPTC Group (the merged Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Powys), a featured case study in the guide, have a designated person with responsibility for looked after children and care leavers. They say; “The college is prepared to make such a big investment in such a relatively small number of students because despite the number of care leavers being low – the impact of this work can be huge, and the costs of not intervening are even greater.”

Nicola Aylward, NIACE Head of Learning for Young People at NIACE, said, “Thousands of young people age 16–18 leave care each year, facing the challenges of living independently, understanding their rights, the support available to them and navigating a pathway towards a secure career. Many had a patchy school education, experienced several moves whilst in care and struggle with emotional challenges as a result of their experiences. It’s not surprising therefore, that at 19 care leavers are more than twice as likely to not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) as their peers who were not in care.

“Local authorities, health and social services, and learning providers have a moral and legal duty to support care leavers to have high aspirations, to find and stay in learning and to achieve and progress into further learning and work. We hope that the guide we developed closely with Buttle UK will enable providers across Wales to build on good practice and help young care leavers realise their potential and live full and active adult lives.”

Gerri McAndrew, Buttle UK Chief Executive, said, “This is a most welcome continuation of our efforts to ensure that young people leaving care can succeed in their studies at this higher level. We know from experience that the challenges they face are enormous.

“We commend NIACE for addressing their needs through publishing this guide which will keep front-of-mind the extra support that this under-represented group need in order to achieve their ambitions.”

As part of its ongoing work to support care leavers, NIACE has also developed an app to inspire and help young people to find learning and work. The Inspire Me! app has been developed by care leavers, for care leavers. It enables former care leavers who are now living independently and learning or working, to share their stories. Users can upload their own stories and build up a bank of their favourites for future inspiration. A preview is accessible online and will be available to download on all devices from the app store from October 2015.