In order to ensure that care leavers are identified and supported when they are applying to college we have developed close working relationships with local authorities within the area local to the college.
When learners join the college as Looked After Children (LAC) or Care Leavers (CL) we attend the final Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting prior to them joining the college. Within this PEP meeting we are able to meet the learner and develop an understanding of their personal and social/career and development goals as well discuss the support that is available at the college.
This pre-admission meeting also enables the learner to meet the designated teacher in the college who will be their main point of contact during their studies.
From this PEP meeting we are able to then arrange and offer transition visits into the college in order to tour the site and understand the locations of key people/services prior to enrolment.
On the occasion that we are not invited to the PEP meeting or in the case where a PEP is no longer taking place we have developed links with local authority leaving care teams who monitor the destinations for care leavers in the local area. Through these links we have been able to have care leavers who are considering applying to college identified to us so that we are able to offer a meeting with a designated teacher and transition prior to enrolment.
Currently we have a dedicated page on our college website that discusses the support available to CL’s. We will be completing a review of the content and accessibility of the website with support from CL’s currently at the college in order to understand how we can ensure that the information on the website is clear and easy to access for learners.
When enrolling or applying for a course at the college we have an application for that enables learners to state if they are a Looked After Child. We will be reviewing the application form in order to review if Care Leaver can be added as well in order to ensure that all learners are identified at enrolment.
When a learner states that they are a Looked After Child or states that they are a Care Leaver a welfare interview is conducted to establish further information such as ways in which support could be offered and any relevant background information.
The college offers a Vulnerable Bursary for learners that provides financial support that can assist with meals, transport and other items that are required to support with completion of the college course. The Vulnerable Bursary can also support with UCAS application fees.
Pastoral Support/On programme:
As part of the pastoral structure at the college all learners have a designated Progress Coach who is responsible for the attendance, attainment and pastoral monitoring of the learner. Each Progress Coach is monitored via a Senior Tutor who is also the Designated Teacher for Care Leavers and also a part of the Safeguarding team. A member of the Safeguarding team is also always available during term time college hours for support if needed.
During the first 6 weeks of college we undertaken a process called Right Choice Review. Care Leavers are prioritized for a one to one in order to discuss their college course and any concerns that they have in order for early intervention to be implemented to address any issues.
After the Right Choice Review Care Leavers are prioritised for one to one’s with their Progress Coach throughout the academic year in order to track progress on their course and identify any barriers to learning.
Care Leavers who are still engaged with the PEP process via the local authority meet with their Designated Teacher each half term in order to complete and review PEP documentation. For the next academic year this will be extended to include a half termly meeting for all Care Leavers with their Designated Teacher.
In order to develop the support that is available for Care Leavers we are reviewing the student support offer for Care Leavers. We will be looking at options such as a buddy system and Care Leaver support groups that learners at college could access.
In order to support learners on their journey to their next step outside of college we have a careers and destination focused tutorial system.
The tutorial system has weekly tutorials that are differentiated by level and area of the college in order to ensure that the content within them supports the learner with progression towards their intended destination.
All learners on Level 3 courses are given UCAS and Higher Education guidance including funding, applications and support with searching and applying for courses.
Through our enrichment offer CL’s will be given the opportunity to attend UCAS, visits and guest speaker information talks. This will give learners an insight into university life and what to expect.
The CSJ report that only 0.1% of graduates are care leavers and therefore we feel we could develop our offer further to improve this statistic. We are in the process of developing links with local universities, linking in providers including Salford University. This will offer further opportunities for learners to explore university life and offer available locally.
As part of the progression from college to university we are looking at providing further support when CL’s move to university. Offering, where possible, to accompany learners to initial visits and introductions to the university pastoral teams.
We are also committed to reviewing the tutorials which are currently delivered to ensure they further meet the needs of our CL’s. We are keen to deliver sessions moving forward to cover topics such as; living away, cooking on a budget, shopping for essential equipment which will support the transition to university.
The CSJ found that 1 in 3 CL’s end up NEET. Learners who are enrolled on a programme of study at the College, will undertake a work placement. CL’s will be given support and resources to help them gain a meaningful work placement. Progress Coaches will offer weekly support and monitor the work placements. This will give learners the skills and experience they need to secure part/full time work, both whilst studying and once they have completed the course.
Warrington and Vale Royal College is currently undergoing a review of Student Support, which will also take into consideration our care leaver provision. We will update the enhanced offer in due course.
2. A Robust Employment Offer
WVR College is keen to explore how, within our organisation, we could respond to this aspect of the Covenant. We plan to set up a working group which will include members of the careers team and other key staff including HR and staff members from the pastoral team
We are committed to ensuring that as a college we offer an inclusive community offer. Currently we have Hair and Beauty salons that offer treatments at a reduced rate for members of the public to book in and utilise. Additionally, we have a college restaurant ran by students from the Catering department meals here are also available at a reduced rate for members of the public to book in and use.
As a college we will commit to advertising these services on a wider basis to teams in the community who with care leavers in order for them to benefit from these services.
Currently we engage with local authority Virtual Schools to discuss our offer as a college however we are committed to raising the profile of college ran events to make them accessible to Care Leavers in the community. We will look to ensure that college open evenings and events such as Fresher’s/HE Fayres are advertised and available to Care Leavers in the community to access.
The college also have a Careers Service that is available for use by members of the community to look at next steps with careers planning, job searching and application advice and guidance. We will ensure that this service is advertised on a wider basis and specifically within channels that Care Leavers access including support from the local authority.