The University of Sheffield is committed to providing an excellent level of support for young adults who are or have been in local authority care, working towards achieving best practice as outlined in the DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE and Pathway to University from Care recommendations. We work closely with young people still in the care of the local authority and those that have become students here at Sheffield to ensure that we remain current in our thinking and practices around practical support they may need.
The University of Sheffield’s dedicated Care Leaver and Estranged team is committed to ensuring that every individual who requires guidance and support has the opportunity to speak to an experienced member of staff. The team consists of individuals, working in different areas of the University: Admissions, Outreach and Recruitment, Finance, Central Welfare and Guidance (CWaG), Careers, Residence Life, who take a holistic and collaborative approach to supporting the Care Leaver throughout their student journey. The experienced team is able to understand the often complex requirements that students currently in or leaving local authority care (or have become estranged from their families) may have.
We have commitment at UEB within the University in support of our Care Leaver Covenant and practices contained therein.
Pre-entry (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Outreach and Local Authority relationships, Designated member of staff. Pathways to University from Care – Have a designated named contact; Run pre-entry summer schools and homework clubs; Offer training to local authorities, personal advisers, schools and colleges)
- Dedicated contacts for guidance and support as part of Access+ scheme, encompassing the following groups – children in care, care leavers, estranged students and students with caring responsibilities. Staff available at Open Days and to arrange bespoke visits to meet staff, and student ambassadors with similar personal circumstances, to discuss issues relating to higher education
- Widening Participation (WP) Team hosts a number of exploratory sustained schemes for school and college aged students to find out more about studying at university. Working closely with teachers, pastoral school staff and Virtual Schools in the Sheffield City Region to identify children in care to benefit from being part of a wider cohort of children and young people from similar backgrounds. At this stage, we are able to work on an individual basis with the young people to ensure consideration is given to supporting their personal circumstances, enabling them to participate fully in our programmes.
- In partnership with The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre we are beginning to identify potential children in care/care leavers who are taking part in our sustained WP programmes and who may consider that an apprenticeship route would be preferable. AMRC would make care leavers aware that bursary funding may be available from external source.
- Targeted homework club for Y5 and Y6 children in care delivered in partnership with a local virtual school
- Pre-16 (Y7-Y11) targeted activities for children in care and those with caring responsibilities, working in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University to support the collective needs of this group through our Higher Education Progression Partnership (hepp).
- Work closely with Sheffield Hallam University ‘care leaver support’ colleagues, making introductions for individuals and supporting staff, where an alternative university course may be the desired pathway.
During Application (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Outreach and Local Authority relationships, Support Networks. Pathways to University from Care – Define who is a ‘care leaver’; Offer contextual admissions where appropriate; Have a designated named contact)
- Care Leavers are identified at application stage through: self-declared ‘tick box’ on UCAS application, through self-declared Access+ and Disrupted Studies submissions and those who have been part of our sustained WP Schemes.
- The dedicated contacts within teams, work collectively across the departments of Student Recruitment and Admissions, Finance, Central Student Wellbeing & Guidance, to support students in Y13 who are transitioning into University or are adult learners. They can help to clarify any financial, accommodation or wellbeing support queries, provide some pastoral support and signposting to other channels, in response to an individual’s circumstances
- Any self-identified care leavers holding offers at The University of Sheffield will:
- be called by a current student who is a care leaver and receive a follow up contact from staff. The ambassadors are able to offer peer support and help with any unanswered questions or concerns about the application process, visiting the University or being a student.
- receive an invitation to visit the University on an Applicant Open day, with free overnight accommodation and breakfast provided, giving the opportunity to meet a member of the dedicated team to discuss any personal circumstances face to face and to experience first-hand what staying in our student accommodation will be like. Travel expenses may also be paid for the visit
Contextual Offers (Access+) (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Outreach and Local Authority relationships. Pathways to University from Care – Define who is a ‘care leaver’; Offer contextual admissions where appropriate; Have a designated named contact)
- Our University Executive Board recognises the importance of support for care leavers and has approved the use of ‘Declared Care Leaver Status’ as criteria towards our contextual application offer. Depending on the subjects studied and entry requirements to the preferred course of study, an alternative offer, typically one grade below the standard entry requirements from 2019/20 entry onwards will be made. This is now part of our Access Sheffield/Access + Admissions Policy
- Additional consideration of an applicant’s contextual circumstances is also available via the Universities ‘Disrupted Studies’ Admissions process. This includes a means through which applicants can provide further, confidential information about the impact their care experience may have had on their studies. Via this means our Department for Lifelong Learning can also consider students who will be under 21 at the point of entry but who may not have acquired the prerequisite levels of academic attainment required to begin their studies at degree level; recognising that the effects of being in care can present lifelong challenges.
Transition/Upon Registering (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Support Networks. Pathways to University from Care – Introduce early registration; Have a designated named contact)
- Early Registration for care leaver and estranged applicants can be explored on an individual basis, following confirmation that the applicant has met all the conditions of their offer to study.
- CWaG – in liaison with individuals can explore an offer of Orientation week experience to settle in before Intro Week.
- Peer mentoring is offered to all first year students; the mentor may not necessarily be from a care background
Accommodation (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE – Accommodation Support and Financial Support. Pathways to University from Care – Offer affordable 365-day accommodation; Offer support on arrival day; Provide welcome packs for students in their accommodation; Have a designated named contact)
- See below for details relating to bursary/accommodation for students entering 2020 and 2021
- Guaranteed 365 day per year university accommodation
- Waiver University accommodation deposit.
- University accommodation gives access to the Residence Life Team, which provides 24 hour support in relation to accommodation issues. In addition to support and guidance, the team also organises and facilitates development opportunities, events, activities and sports in partnership with the Students’ Union and Sport Sheffield.
- University of Sheffield Accommodation Scholarship with Catalyst
- The University works with The Unite Foundation to offer free Unite accommodation for up to 3 years of study to students who are estranged or care leavers.
- CWaG (private accommodation) and Residence Life (university accommodation) to liaise with students prior to arrival to offer support as appropriate to individuals and discuss Accommodation Welcome pack (essentials e.g. bedding, kitchen equipment) and handover of Sheffield Welcome pack
- In relation to recommendation: Introduce alcohol-free accommodation options – this will be considered for 2021/22
Finance (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Financial Support. Pathways to University from Care -Offer affordable 365-day accommodation; Offer a care leaver)
- For students who start their course in September 2020 or 2021 the bursary award, per level of study, is: up to £10,000 for full time students and up to £5,000 for part time students – see the financial support web pages for details of how the award is paid as this will depend on where students choose to live and if in receipt of UNITE or Catalyst accommodation scholarship.
- For current students – Enhanced bursary for undergraduate students of £4,500 for full-time students and £2,250 for part-time students per academic year available to care leavers (other circumstances also considered e.g. estrangement)
- Sheffield Postgraduate Scholarship worth £10,000 – applications consider WP criteria, including in care as a looked-after child for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and be aged under 25 on the first day of course
- Care leavers and estranged students are also eligible to apply for the Experience Sheffield Scholarship
- Act as guarantor for students signing private accommodation contracts
- Access to a number of online money tools to encourage financial capability
Careers, Work Opportunities & Experience (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Careers advice; Outreach and Local Authority relationships. Pathways to University from Care – Final year support; Have a designated named contact)
- Careers Service – Discover Your Future, which provides additional support to current students from widening participation backgrounds, including care leavers
- Dedicated contact within Careers Service
- Support can be sought from our Careers Service for up to 3 years after graduation – this offer is open to all University Alumni
- We offer real work experience opportunities for current students of all backgrounds to undertake paid work as ambassadors within our Widening Participation and Recruitment events, and on targeted children in care/care leaver activities, acting as peer role models.
- There are numerous opportunities for students to participate in volunteering opportunities as part of our Students’ Union.
- All work undertaken as an ambassador at the University is recognised in a student’s Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) through which they are able to demonstrate to future employers any work experience they have undertaken and the transferrable skills they have developed.
Additional consideration of a care leaver’s circumstances is also offered should they apply to postgraduate study at Sheffield.
Health and Wellbeing Support (DfE Principles for Supporting Care Leavers in HE- Support Networks. Pathways to University from Care Recommendation – Fast track mental health support)
- Mental Health: The University has developed a single point of access services, pulling together its mental health services as Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS). This service is promoted widely and prioritised/triaged at point of contact.
- Faculty-based Wellbeing Advisors – Student Wellbeing Service. Available to all registered students to offer short-term, tailored one-to-one support.
- Pathways to University from Care Recommendation – Be clear about the nature of ‘support’ on offer.
Revised web pages creating a central hub for information relating to support for care leavers and estranged students
- Pathways to University from Care – Training for staff
Dedicated contacts from Student Recruitment and Admissions and Student Support and Guidance deliver From disrupted studies to success; supporting students with specific personal circumstances to stay at university through the staff development programme.
Pathways to University from Care video in staff training suite
- Pathways to University from Care Recommendation – Offer training to local authorities, personal advisers, schools and colleges
Through links with external stakeholders e.g. Virtual Schools, Leaving Care Teams, charities meet with and present university offer and associated opportunities to staff, carers and/or young people
- A Welcome to Sheffield pack for newly arriving students (care leavers and estranged students) will be offered again (introduced in 2019). This was initiated by a current student ambassador and supported by WP Team. The pack gives an additional opportunity for students to develop their own networks and meet, if that is their preference, with key contacts at the university and will complement the Accommodation Welcome pack.
Our Care Leaver Covenant is supported by our University Executive Board. Care Leaver and Estranged Student Steering Group to review support for students and Care Leaver Covenant
The University of Sheffield works towards the principles outlined by the DfE Guide to higher education providers on improving care leavers access and participation in HE. We welcome the recent research findings Pathways to University from Care K Ellis, C Johnston (2019) Findings Report One. We are giving consideration to the recommendations provided within, particularly in relation to student transition from care to arriving at University for the first time.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
We offer real work experience opportunities for current students of all backgrounds to undertake paid work as ambassadors within our Widening Participation and Recruitment events; with targeted recruitment to current students who are care leavers to work on activities focused on children in care/care Leavers activities, acting as peer role models.
- We work closely with the Virtual Schools and our own local Higher Education Progression Partnership (hepp) to provide a crucial link to our local colleges, schools and Sheffield Hallam University, to deliver a coherent and consistent local approach to supporting children in care and care leavers.
- Hepp is responsible for delivering a dedicated annual CPD event for teachers, advisers and other staff with responsibility for supporting children in care, care leavers, estranged students and students with caring responsibilities, to provide up to date information of current support and provision in this area.
- Information shared with local contacts for upcoming events and opportunities at The University.
Involvement with Star Awards (Sheffield City Council) event to recognise and celebrate achievements of care-experienced young people. Support with judging and sponsorship of prizes for children