Please detail the full life-cycle support you have in place for care leavers.
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.
The University of Bolton offers support to Care-Experienced Learners throughout their student journey.
As a Widening Participation Institution, the University of Bolton is dedicated to supporting all of our students, however we also recognise the significant additional pressures upon their studies faced by care experienced young people. As a result, the University of Bolton takes a whole-institutional approach to its commitment to help Care-Experienced learners to improve their educational outcomes by offering meaningful support throughout their student journey.
The University of Bolton’s Access and Participation Plan sets out the universities strategic commitment to developing opportunities and provision for current and prospective care experienced students, and positions improving participation for care experienced students by 2026 as one of three core strategic outcomes. Our ‘Care Experienced Students Working Group’ was established in 2021 and has supported the university’s work towards this core goal by:
- Establishing cross-institutional ‘Care Experienced Student Champions’
- Joining the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) Quality Mark pilot scheme, later awarded to the university by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
- Signing the Care Leaver’s Covenant
- Ratifying an improved package of support for Care Experienced Students and revising our definition of ‘Care Experienced’
The University of Bolton now defines ‘Care Experienced’ to be an individual who has lived in a care setting for at least 13 weeks between the ages of 14 and 18.
The University of Bolton works closely with local authorities and partner HEIs through the Greater Manchester Higher Collaborative Network, to deliver a range of outreach activities and provide impartial information, advice and guidance to care experienced young people and their key influencers, supporting their transitional decision making.
For Pre-16 learners Success4Life, a 9-week project bringing together looked-after children in Years 8-10, provides opportunities to: Develop soft-skills, explore Higher Education and Post-16 education pathways, interact with current students from Care Experienced backgrounds and improve confidence. In 2022, the university will deliver the project in both Rochdale, alongside the Rochdale and Oldham local authorities, and on campus, with learners from Bolton and Bury local authorities.
For post-16 students, the university both supports and/or hosts a range of activities in collaboration with Greater Manchester Higher and network partners including:
- Step Up to Uni: HE student support showcase for Y11-13 students, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University
- Supporting the Supporters: CPD day for key influencers, hosted by the University of Manchester
- Transitional Online Mentoring: Through the online Brightside platform.
- CPD Sessions: Providing information, advice and guidance to key influencers, such as social workers and foster carers
- ‘VIP’ Campus Visits: Aimed at Care Experienced learners interested in learning more about HE or attending the University of Bolton specifically.
- Greater Manchester Care Leaver Awards: An annual event organised in collaboration with HEI partners to celebrate the achievements of care leavers across the region.
- Greater Manchester Care Experienced Education Network (GMCEEN): A NEON award winning collaborative forum including representatives from regional HEIs and all 10 Greater Manchester Local Authorities.
Since 2021, the University has strengthened ties with local authorities and virtual schools in Bolton and Rochdale, by consulting with virtual school colleagues to support learners’ education plans and facilitating the organisation of visit days to HEIs in Greater Manchester and London.
The University of Bolton has a named pre-entry contact for Care Experienced Students, and students can request one-to-one support and impartial information, advice and guidance at any point during the application, admissions or clearing process.
The University also offers financial support to cover reasonable costs incurred by Care Experienced Students who wish to attend open days, interviews, taster events and offer holder days at the University of Bolton, to support their transition to Higher Education and ability to make informed choices about their future options.
Care Experienced Students also receive priority access to our transitional summer school scheme ‘Get Ahead’ – again with financial support for travel and accommodation.
The University of Bolton is the process of establishing a ‘buddy’ system for Care Experienced Students, which aims to match applicants with current Care Experienced Undergraduates to provide impartial IAG and support throughout the admissions process.
Care Experiences Students are contacted in advance of their enrolment and made aware of the University of Bolton’s Care Experienced Student support package, which includes:
- Our Care Experienced Student Bursary,
- Option for private/supported enrolment,
- Enhanced personal tutor
- Welcome pack on arrival (if staying with our preferred accommodation provider)
- Signposting to our named post-entry contacts for current students.
On Course Support:
Care Experienced Students at the University of Bolton are able to access a range of different support services during their studies including:
- Finance: Students defined as ‘Care Experienced’ Bolton are eligible for the university’s Care Experienced Bursary, which offers up to £1,000 per academic year and an additional £500 upon completion of their studies. Additionally, Care Experienced Students also receive preferential access to hardship funds (relaxed eligibility criteria), alongside free budget planning and financial management support.
- Accommodation: Care Experienced students receive preferential accommodation allocation and full year contracts with our preferred accommodation provider. We also plan to ensure students who choose to stay in our preferred accommodation provider receive an accommodation welcome pack upon arrival at university.
- Academic Support: The University of Bolton pledges to provide an ‘Enhanced’ personal tutor service, with staff receiving additional training to understand specific barriers faced by Care Experienced Students.
- Pastoral: Care experienced students at the University of Bolton receive preferential access to our ‘Life Lounge’, mental health and wellbeing services, including fast track referrals, counselling and CBT. The University of Bolton has named post-entry contacts for Care Experienced Students, as well as a dedicated general email accessed by Care Experience Champions in teams across the university, to ensure a joined-up approach to enquiries. This pool includes staff who accessed a range of CPD and training opportunities, including: Mental Health First Aid Courses (Youth Focused), Attachment Theory, Student Wellbeing, Care Experience issues and Trauma training.
- Student Voice: The University of Bolton is in the process of establishing more robust mechanisms to support the student voice, and is working with our Student Union to ensure Care Experienced students are particularly heard.
Careers and Employability:
The University of Bolton provides careers support, access to careers interviews, skills assessments and skills workshops to all students, with care experienced students receiving preferential first access to each of these services. Students receive enhanced careers and employability advice through a dedicated contact in the Careers and Employability team, who is aware of issues facing care experienced students.
The University of Bolton intends to provide supported access for care experienced students to complete the Bolton Award, an employability programme intended to support graduates to develop transferable skills, gain work experience and receive additional tailored employability advice and guidance.
Graduates and Alumni:
Upon graduation, Care Experienced Student in receipt of the University’s Care Experienced Bursary receive an additional £500 cash bursary to support with clothing and travel expenses related to interviews, job searches and towards Graduation costs. Students also the option of additional support from the careers service during their final year to support their transition.
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.
The University of Bolton is keen to explore how, within our organisation, we could respond to this aspect of the Covenant. We plan discuss this further within the organisation and then respond accordingly.
How does the institution build relationships and engage with the local community?
Consider student clinics – medical or law for example. Health and beauty treatments, culinary schools or sports coaching in colleges, or information on talk series and open events etc.
Consideration should be given to the advertising and access and / or discounted opportunities, which could be hosted on the Care Leaver Covenant app.
Consider how this information is publicised, how this might be augmented to enhance the reach to a care leaving audience?
University of Bolton is correlation information relating to this pillar of the Covenant and will update it accordingly.