Jonathan Freeman, CEO of the CareTech Charitable Foundation

This week is national care leavers week in the UK, where we celebrate the achievements and good stories of care leavers. Unfortunately, with every great care leaver success story, there are multiple other tragic cases of care leavers ending up in dire circumstances, whether it be homelessness, unemployment or untimely deaths. We, as a society, are too often failing care leavers.

As the name suggests, ‘care leavers’ are adults who have left the care system by the age of 18. However, young people can also opt to leave care at 16. Once out of care, these young adults are left on their own to figure out basic aspects of independent living such as housing, food, insurance, car payments, and university applications with little to no support. These are things that most 16 year-olds in this country don’t have to think about, but for care leavers, they do.  And it can be a matter of life or death if they don’t.

One third of care leavers become homeless within the first two years of leaving care and 25% of all homeless people have been in care at some point in their lives. While there are a number of charities doing amazing things for these people, monetary donations can only go so far. We need to equip care leavers, early on, with the right tools to support themselves. Access to higher education is pivotal in this.

University is a great equaliser and a catalyst for personal development. It is a place where young people develop independence and experience the formative first years of adulthood in what is usually a supportive environment.  However, only between 6-12% of care leavers go into higher education compared to 42% of their non-care-experienced peers. Why is this?

The key drivers that cause care experienced young people to choose not to go to university include:

  • A lack of information and advice when choosing universities and courses
  • Changes of residential placement when preparing for teenage examinations
  • Uncertainty about available financial support
  • Anxiety about accommodation
  • Additional academic challenges due to gaps in understanding, resulting from disrupted schooling
  • Mental health issues associated with childhood experiences

This boils down to a total lack of coordinated support and resources in these areas. However, universities alone cannot equalise the higher education experience of care leavers; other organisations need to assist in supporting these disadvantaged students.

The CareTech Foundation saw this as an opportunity to help these young people by working with existing institutions who are excelling in this area. We have developed a grant programme, awarded through the University of East London (UEL) and other universities, called the ‘Care Leavers Bursary Grant’.  This new fund aims to support, encourage and celebrate care leavers going into higher education.

Our grant will offer a bursary of £1,000 a year to a student studying a health or social care course at one of our partner universities.  We will offer support to up to five young people at any one university per year, but these will be multi-year commitments to provide ongoing support through the student’s university careers.

Over many years, UEL has supported one of the highest number of care leaver students in the country and so it is a perfect fit for what both of our organisations are trying to achieve with this incredible group of young people. UEL will also work to actively promote the grant to incoming students from a care leaver background and report on their progress annually, ensuring there is clear communication and both the CareTech Foundation and partner university can provide the best levels of support.

Through this support, we hope to address an unfortunate pattern that we have seen too often in care leavers at this age. Once they are on their own, their primary focus is, understandably, a simple matter of survival.  “How will I put a roof over my head? How I am going to feed myself? How am I going to pay for all of this? Where do I begin?”  Going to university is an afterthought when you are just trying to survive independently without any previous guidance and support. Lack of accessible knowledge and misconceptions about available support for young care leavers leads to the disturbing statistics mentioned above. More needs to be done to let care leavers know that support is there and that they have options available to them.

But having care leavers enroll university is just half the battle. According to the Pathways Report conducted by the University of Sheffield, 51% of care-experienced students considered dropping out of university due to workload, health, money or personal/family issues. Convincing care leavers that university will be worth it to them and to maintain their studies is just as important as having them enroll.

That is why, as part of our grant, specialist social care provider CareTech plc will be supporting grant recipients with the opportunity to gain work experience for the duration of their education across the business.  The idea is to help care-experienced young people and bring them into an environment where they develop and excel. The work experience opportunity with CareTech plc and its subsidiaries makes this a fully-rounded offering, where it is not just financial support in the shape of a bursary grant but also work experience and possible job prospects too.

Never before has a care sector organisation offered this kind of support and it is something sorely lacking. We are working to change that with this grant and, eventually, with the help of other care and educational leaders who we hope will adopt this model in the future.

Despite childhood challenges, care leavers have proven time and again that they are just as capable as their peers and that they bring a set of valuable experience and ideas to the workplace.  This is especially true of the care sector that is in desperate need of a new pipeline of young talent for the years to come. The motivation, determination and resilience of care-experienced young people is inspirational - and very beneficial to future employers. Helping these individuals to access and thrive at university makes a huge difference in closing the gap between them and their cohort at this critical stage.  It is the right thing to do morally but it also makes sound business sense to invest in these remarkable young people.

Jonathan Freeman, CEO of the CareTech Charitable Foundation

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page