At Halesowen College, we recognise 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.
At Halesowen College, we want them to receive the best support package possible. We recognise that being care experienced can come with many challenges and we have a team here who want to make sure that they never feel they are managing these challenges alone. We know how difficult studying can be at times and we want to make sure that they can focus on their education with the support of our team to manage any challenges and changes whilst they are with us.
Halesowen College is committed to developing its policies and processes to support all vulnerable learners and to enhance their experience, development and progression opportunities. Support is provided throughout the student journey and is promoted to students throughout their time at college. 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. Our vision particularly relates to learners who are looked after children (LAC) also known as Child Looked After (CLA), care leavers (CL) and young carers (YC). Halesowen College has established a strong position from which to fulfil its responsibilities to prepare students to fully participate in training and education programmes to enable them to compete in the global marketplace and maximise their success in their future working lives and contributes to the 12 by 24 pledge. The College has developed strong relationships with its neighboring Local Authorities to try and ensure that no-one slips through the net. This expresses the commitment to working together.
As partners we endeavour to ensure that Young People in Care and Care Leavers achieve the best possible outcomes in post-16 education and training. We are part of the NNECL Pilot, to benchmark where we are to support the engagement, admission, support and progression of LAC/CLA/CL/YCs, whilst developing a consistent approach across all college campuses and our local authorities. This focused approach provides these learners with an excellent learning experience whilst studying at the College, as well as providing them with the confidence and motivation to succeed in their lifelong learning and wider life experiences.
Through NCOP, we are run a 6 week coaching programme (RACE – Raising Aspirations Coaching Programme) aimed at care experienced students across the college. The programme is co delivered with current undergraduates from Aston University, who have care experience, as well as our own care-experienced students. The aim is to raise aspirations for care experienced young people, whilst focusing on promoting the varying levels of support available to them when studying in higher education or undertaking an apprenticeship.
From initial information of our support package on our website for enquiries and admission, through to support on programme and help with employability and resilience/confidence building, right to completion on programme and help with finding a job and accommodation, the college supports throughout their learning journey. A senior person, who sits on the strategic leadership team, champions the support and outcomes for care experienced students, and the link Governor scrutinizes and reports to the Governing Body at Corporation meetings. This includes clear targets for success rates and retention to ensure we are aspirational.
We will be updating the college website with the direct dial information so all initial and ongoing enquiries will come straight through the Learning Services Team.
As per NNECL, review and evaluation takes place to build upon strengths and address areas for development. This activity covers all aspects of management, resources and delivery including:
- Governance/oversight approaches
- Achievement of recruitment, retention, achievement and progression outcomes
- Pre entry experiences
- The service offer/delivery (financial, on-programme, IAG)
- Partnership working
Additionally, feedback is sought from our care-experienced students, delivery staff and our partners. All information is kept up to date and reviewed annually, and placed on the Propel site.
The Safeguarding and Inclusion team ensure that tailored support is there with a named supporter who helps with their independence and aspirations to independent living. This includes mentoring, well-being, pastoral, financial and budget management in tutorials, as well as academic support.
As a College we know we could do even more to support these learners, and using a set of agreed standards we ensure we align ourselves to them will help. Additionally, one of the main reasons to sign up to the covenant and to take part in the NNECL trial was, despite all the interventions and support we put in place, in 2017/18 the outcome for CLA learners was 80% compared with 93% in the previous year. There was a significant issue with the performance of CLAs on programmes at level 3, hence the new coaching programme being introduced aimed at that cohort this year.
I am delighted to say that following the formation of a working party to review our approach to CLA support, more robust tracking and mentoring was established. CLA monitoring formed part of monthly VIP (Vulnerable Impact Panel) meetings where progress was tracked and interventions agreed, to ensure we made a difference to this under-represented group and Halesowen College has a strategic vision and commitment to make this happen.
This monitoring activity provides an ‘early warning’ to identify indicators that may lead to students not achieving their academic goals, and the team work closely with the social worker and personal coach to ensure this happens. This has resulted in more targeted support work and with over 90% positive destinations; the achievement gap has narrowed this year.
At Halesowen College we recognise that having care experience can bring on many financial challenges. We offer a bursary of up to £1,200 per year to all care experienced students aged 16 – 19 years.
We also offer support with applications for additional funding from charities who support care experienced young people in education. Some of our students have received grants of £2,250 from the Helena Kennedy Foundation whilst others have received support from the Rees Foundation who offer both financial, and employment opportunities for care experienced young people.
At Halesowen College we are committed to growing our networks with organisations who offer support for care experienced young people and we are dedicated to locating these organisations to support you whilst they are studying with us.
Our outreach team at Halesowen College is made up of different services; one of these includes the NCOP team who work closely with universities, employers and other services to offer the best programme of activity whilst they are studying with us. This includes trips and events that support your education and offering fun and engaging cultural capital experiences. (Cultural capital experiences include; visiting another city to watch a West End show, visiting another city to explore a popular establishment such as a football stadium or museum)
We also have a group known as RACE – Raising Aspirations from Care Experience. The RACE group is a group of current students who have care experience, who meet to discuss any areas of interest for them, areas the college can improve on (these views are shared with senior people in the college) and to share knowledge about rights and entitlements for care experienced young people. The group also plans trips and events for those with care experience.
The RACE members are also trainers. They train staff across the college and at other places such as schools and universities. The training sessions were created by care experienced young people to educate adults about the experiences of children and young people in care. The RACE trainers are paid for their time. Any care experienced students are welcome to join RACE at any point and join the current students in recruiting more trainers, training staff and meeting care leavers from local universities.
Information Advice and Guidance (IAG)
At Halesowen, Our teams in safeguarding outreach and careers, offer 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), moving onto independence, financial entitlements whilst a student or apprentice and many other areas of importance. This also includes support for students seeking asylum and for those with discretionary leave to remain. We are also applying for College of Sanctuary status.
The aim of the package, including regular CV, presentation training and resilience training is aimed at building their confidence and employment pathways.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
Our outreach team are staff who work hard to locate and facilitate programmes and activities that meet the needs of our students, and this includes an extensive range of support tutorials and mentoring to help them with application support, including assistance with work experience and employability. We offer specially designed programmes for care experienced young people that are fun, educational and are targeted to their needs. For instance if they are unsure about what universities offer care experienced young people in terms of accommodation support, our outreach team can find this out. Alternatively, maybe they would like to apply for an apprenticeship but they do not know how to. We also have developed a supported internship programme with all learners successfully gaining employment at the end of the programme.
Once students have declared they are care experienced, they can choose to take up a range of services we have on offer. At Halesowen College, we welcome any ideas and suggestions, if they feel we could offer more or a different service, we work to provide it. We are committed to improving the services we offer to care experienced young people and want to make sure that the services we offer meet the different needs of our students, and this includes help with employment. We offer work experience in our departments, which is a good starting ground for those unsure of their pathways.
The college’s partnership with the University of Worcester facilitates a small number of students being placed in the college, although this isn’t specifically for students classed as care leavers we are exploring how this could be a priority group through this partnership.
The college also offers work experience and volunteer opportunities within the LRC and other student- led groups and we shall explore how care leavers could be further supported to access these opportunities.
Halesowen 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. From room hire, work placements, community groups and community social action projects, it really inspires our student population to make a difference to our local community. We use local employers as part of our Million Mentor campaigns for our students.
With regards to discounted treatments etc, this is currently being investigated. This is an area we wish to grow, especially with using our Hair and Beauty academy. With other options to explore would be the use of the sports facilities, theatres and activities – we shall update progress on this in early 2020.
We have a partnership agreement with the University of Worcester, and will soon be launching our University Centre Halesowen. This will put on community talks, projects and events that will be free of charge and a monthly programme will be advertised.