NCG is committed to a whole Institution approach in relation to support for its Care Experienced students and for the past three years have been working with the CLC to ensure that care experienced learners are supported through all the barriers they face Into HE and employment. As a result of this we have recently obtained the NNECL QM and are committed to a process of continuous Improvement for this group of learners and have a steering group which oversees this work.
The NCG group base their definition advocated by NNECL which uses the term Care Experienced as a commitment to support as many young people who have experienced care In all Its forms.
At NCG we define a care experienced student as:
Any student who is or has ever been in the care of the Local Authority and would therefore classify themselves as Care Experienced.
This term refers to anyone who has been, or is currently, in (Local Authority) care. This care may have been provided in many different settings, including living with foster carers; living in a residential children’s home; being looked after at home under a supervision order; living with friends or relatives in kinship care.
NCG has dedicated teams across all its colleges, including Care Leaver Covenant Progression Coordinators, who provide bespoke pre-entry FE/HE IAG to CES in a range of ways, from early interest such as attendance at secondary school events, initial application at college to enrolment. This allows CES and their key external peers, including liaison with virtual schools across all NCG institutions, to have an overview of the bespoke CES support offered at NCG. All NCG colleges have been awarded the Matrix Standard in recognition of their high quality IAG services and work to the Gatsby Standards.
In line with our objective to create opportunities for all individuals no matter what their background, our Admissions policies and processes are inclusive and accessible. The NCG has a Higher Education Admission Policy (reviewed June 2022) and a Further Education Admission Policy (reviewed November 2021). As part of their review, both policies were subject to an Equality Impact Assessment which highlighted the explicit ‘intent to widen participation wherever possible.’ The policies have clear links to the NCG Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Policy and have inclusive principles of operation. The HE Admissions Policy also contains a commitment that all staff will receive training to enable them to perform their duties in a professional and effective manner.
Both the Application and Enrolment processes empower CES to start their journey effectively by disclosing their CES status as early as possible. We ensure that specialised NCG support teams and teams within individual colleges have the knowledge, experience and understanding to provide good IAG to CES.
On Course Support (Pastoral and Financial, Academic)
Support for student physical and mental wellbeing is provided for all Newcastle college students, however a bespoke support offer is provided to CES where required. At the start of their journey CES have designated access to key support colleagues (learning mentors) from the pre-entry stage, a point of contact is provided who they can build a rapport and liaise with regarding concerns/worries. Additionally, the Care Leaver Covenant Coordinator and the pastoral support team provide opportunities for CES across Newcastle college to enable access to a range of student groups that enable the building and developing of social skills and friendships in an informal and comfortable setting with other CES who have similar life experience, which promotes good physical and mental wellbeing.
The implementation of timely support within the college for CES enables collaborative working and holistic support for all CES students, due to the involvement of internal and external support teams and curriculum awareness of support needs including reasonable adjustments. The college have designated safeguarding colleagues and processes dedicated to bespoke support for CES.
CES can develop their soft skills and gain experience that will help them to progress into independent living across college. Support teams and the Care Leaver Covenant Coordinator work together within the college to provide meaningful opportunities.
Participation in enrichment opportunities such as student groups has a positive effect on mental wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem and helps to develop social skills through creating friendships. Group activities implemented during key college events specifically encourage interaction between CES and enable development of social skills, awareness raising also encourages CES to make informed choices. Partnership with the Care Leaver Covenant has further enhanced this through signatory opportunities
Financial barriers such as travel, meal expenses and equipment costs are removed for CES across college to ensure attendance to college is not impacted and promote good mental wellbeing, examples include funding for travel and free meal vouchers. Skills around finance and budgeting are developed in preparation for progression and independent living. Colleges provide vital information at earliest opportunities from the pre-entry point, including via the websites, IAG event promotional material and initial student inductions. The colleges have various teams that provide financial support such as student services and student finance coordinators, these teams understand the requirements for timely support to be implemented to CES. Care leaver Covenant Coordinators utilise Barclay’s life skills resource to provide tailored support to CES across NCG and the Covenant signatory the Money Charity have delivered money management sessions across many NCG sites. Communication is key within NCG colleges, their virtual schools, and carers to ensure relevant funding is applied for in a timely fashion.
Problems and issues with CES attendance are identified early at Newcastle college and collaborative working between teaching and support colleagues, carers and virtual schools help removes barriers and ensure the appropriate holistic support is in place to encourage improved engagement with studies. Newcastle College shares key information with college staff via a CES inclusion plan.
Attendance is an early ‘at risk’ indicator of the need for intervention and support, and Newcastle college has robust processes in place to track CES attendance and implement timely strategies to address any barriers, including a dedicated safeguarding officer.
Careers and Employability
CES are provided with effective CIAG and support at college to help them make informed decisions about their future progression. CES have the opportunity to engage with a well-rounded programme of careers events throughout the academic year, including the aforementioned Apprenticeship event, HE, Careers and jobs fairs, careers clubs and drops ins, HE guest speakers and UCAS clinics where they can explore and discuss their goal and progression options.
NCG has signed the Care Leaver Friendly Employment charter and are committed to ensuring that those who have experienced care are supported to access our employment opportunities and if successful are supported in role.
At Newcastle college planning is underway to source opportunities for our CES including the use of our Retreat for hair and beauty treatments and our catering outlet opportunities across college. We are also planning to meet with local leaving care teams to understand how CE young people in the community could benefit from our facilities, including use of Newcastle college safe, warm spaces with access to hot food and a range of activities and digital support.
As well as having the heating on, hot drinks and soup will be available free of charge, as well as free internet and electricity access and a range of films, craft activities and board games. There will also be support with CV writing and job searching available one day a week. The space provides:
- Free hot drinks and soup
- Free internet access using your own devices
- Use of computers
- Activities including films, crafts and board games
- Support with CV writing and job searching on Fridays