Please detail the full life-cycle support you have in place for care leavers.
The Care Leaver Covenant advocates for a collaborative, whole-institution approach.
When detailing a response to this “pillar” we ask you to bear in mind (and where appropriate make reference to):
- The DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE – which applies in part to FEC
- That all appropriate and relevant information is kept up to date (and regularly checked) on the Propel Site
- The CSJ and First Star’s pledge of supporting 12×24
- The outcomes of NNECL’s Quality Mark Pilot, with the long-term consideration of signing up.
- Reviewing and improving this provision every year, or as new advice is published – whichever comes first.
City of Wolverhampton College recognises that students have different living circumstances. Some may live with parents, family members, carers or may be living independently or with support. We want to make sure that our students are given the right support from the moment they apply to study with us. The College believes in opportunity for all and constantly strives to remove barriers for learners who may have learning difficulties and/or disabilities, or been subject to negative life experiences, social, emotional and educational.
City of Wolverhampton College is committed to supporting in care or care leavers through a whole institution approach and commits to evaluate our mechanisms on an annual basis. We welcome feedback from students on how we can further improve through our ‘8 Ways to have your say’ campaign.
Definition and eligibility criteria for support and financial services:
We have regular meetings with the virtual school lead to determine applicants that are applying to the college and this helps us to determine the support that we can provide. All care experienced students 16-18 receive the Bursary paid into their bank account on a monthly basis. In addition to this they receive support with travel and lunches whilst in college. Students over 25 can access financial support with travel. All students can receive help with any specific equipment they might need and printing credit.
Student Engagement at City of Wolverhampton College is made up of different services. We work with the LA to identify students that may wish to apply to the college and the Student Hub coordinator, and the Careers Team Leader are designated leads of the Care Experienced Team to support these young people access the information they need overseen by the Head of Student Entitlement.
Enquiry and application
At this point the Care Experience Team, will guide the young person through the application process provide support at interview as necessary and explain the financial support they can access. Helping them to make relevant applications and set up bank accounts as needed. When a young person applies themselves the Admission Tutors ask a mandatory question around their support needs and if they are in care or a care leaver. There is a specific tick box on the application form to identify our care experienced students. If they answer yes to either question the Student Hub Coordinator or the Career Teams leader who the designated care leaver leads are contacted and they then start to put in place the necessary support making initial contact to introduce themselves.
Induction and transition
The College has introduced a new process of monitoring in care or care leavers with early intervention to ensure success can be achieved. Support is provided through Student Engagement teams, which is a discrete service.
Student Hub Coordinator supports care leavers to complete an application for the financial bursary. This is a maximum of £120 per month paid directly into the student’s bank account, subject to attendance and behavior. Support is provided by the designated leads to open bank accounts.
On course support
The Student Hub Coordinator communicates with Curriculum Teams who will provide all other study-related support needs. We use a student tracking system to communicate to tutors and managers to identify students in care and care leavers in their areas. At the beginning of the academic year and spreadsheet of all care experienced students is sent to Curriculum Managers who, in turn, cascade this information to the appropriate tutors.
Every full time student is provided with a named Personal Tutor who will provide an extensive range of support tutorials both in group and one to one meetings. Pastoral support and guidance is given to help them achieve on their programme, including assistance with work experience and employability. Personal Tutors are made aware of any care leavers in their groups to prepare them for providing curriculum updates on the students’ progress and contributing to the Peps. The managers in the area are also made aware so they can also monitor and provide information to contribute to the PEPs. They are offered additional careers guidance with the central careers team overseen by the designated lead.
Personal Tutors have received training and briefing on the care leavers process and the designated leads have attended training on PEPs. This information has been disseminated to Personal Tutors.
We have links with the LA and meet regularly to review our processes. The head of the virtual school liaises with the designated leads on individual students needs.
The Careers Team Leader will be aligned who is in place for necessary support and monitoring throughout the year. Training on all aspects of supporting care leavers and contributing to PEPs is ongoing as there are many changes to the system. Care leavers can access digital equipment to loan for the duration of their studies, they can also access the gym, hair salon and beauty salon at reduced or no cost.
All care leavers are offered a College Mentor as part of the Mentoring scheme.
Care leavers have a minimum of three guidance sessions with the Care Experience Team and at least one careers appointment throughout the year in addition to the sessions they have with their personal tutor. More sessions are provided on request depending on the needs of the student. When leaving the College, destinations will be recorded by the Careers Team and checked three, six and twelve months by the data team.
Care leavers have access to individualised financial sessions for next steps whether that be the next level course in college or leaving college moving into employment, apprenticeship, or higher education.
The Care Experience Team offers specialist advice and guidance for care experienced young people. This focuses on rights and entitlements as a care experienced young person in education. This also includes information on matters that are important to them and require them to make independent decisions in their life. Such as accommodation matters, staying with carers (staying put) and moving onto independence. This also includes support for students seeking asylum and for those with discretionary leave to remain.
Members of the Care Experience team work closely with universities, employers and other services to offer the best programme of activity whilst students are with us. Care leavers will be informed of this during their careers and pastoral sessions and there is financial support available to support them to visit universities, purchase equipment or clothing needed.
Care leavers will participate in progression weeks and act on guidance from Personal Tutors to map out next step. Personal Tutors have access to a UCAS handbook for example, that specially refers to the application process of a care experienced individual. Personal tutors will also refer them to the Care Experienced Team who will signpost or make a referral to dedicated specialised services for advice and guidance. Examples of specialised services are universities to showcase their offer for are experienced young people in terms of accommodation support, bursaries and also training providers relating to apprenticeships offers.
The College is also developing a supported internship programme with the LA where students have the opportunity of a pathway to successfully gain employment at the end of the programme. Care leavers have some posts specifically ring fenced for them and they are supported pre and post interview with coaching from the designated leads.
A robust employment offer
From application support, or adapted application processes and mentoring, to specific internships, work experience, apprenticeships or traineeships.
This is very much open for institutional specific responses, but we believe that every institution is in a position through supporting care leavers as students to translate aspects of this to supporting and offering opportunities to current and potential employees.
As a college we have signed the Covenant Care Leaver Friendly Employment Charter and we are committed collectively to support both care experienced students as well as those in the community via our employment opportunities.
City of Wolverhampton College offers a skills partnership with employers and the local community in order to work with local businesses to develop the skills they need to be successful. To be successful in supporting care leavers mentoring and job coaching with the designated leads is offered.
We work with local and national employers securing Apprenticeships and work experience and work related activities for all student’s Care leavers are given additional support by the designated leads and the apprenticeship recruiters.
The College is currently exploring ways how we can support with discounted offered for the commercial services we offer on top of the normal student discount and working closely with the Care Leaver Covenant to create a discount card. With regards to discounted treatments etc., this is currently being investigated. We offer free or reduced rate treatments in the hair and beauty salons where if needed the care leaver would just pay for the product at cost. Care leavers can access the gym for free and access a personal trainer if they would like to.
The Community strategy will be rolled out via marketing, social media and working with local businesses.
On top of this we aim to begin consultation with our local leaving care teams to research what other type of support the college can provide to care experienced in the wider community.