Heart of Worcester College

Heart of Worcester College

 

Featured Signatory Offer Details

 

Heart of Worcester College

Heart of Worcestershire College is an academic institution with campuses at Worcester, Malvern, Redditch and Bromsgrove

1. Student

Heart of Worcestershire college supports all students with experience of care.

• Care leavers may be identified through applications, enrolment process, and interviews before starting college as previously looked after. Reports produced from student records system. Relevant teams advised via daily automated email.

• All learners identified are supported by Wellbeing Team member and allocated to their caseload. The Wellbeing team support student’s welfare needs, deal with safeguarding issues, act as an advocate for students and have a caseload of learners requiring support. They have 1:1 meetings with learners, attend professional meetings, signpost to internal and external services, work with the learners to develop action plans to develop resilience.

• Direct contact is made with each Care Experienced learner to ensure they know how to access support and who this will be provided by in college.

• Wellbeing staff liaise with agencies who already support Care experienced young people such as Social Workers and Foster Carers, Personal Advisors etc.The team support the learner by attending relevant professional meetings. If the learner doesn’t want support the team contact curriculum departments to check on their progress and wellbeing.

• Staff attend LAC reviews and PEP meetings to support learners who may be transitioning from care.

• Wellbeing staff support learners with their emotional/mental wellbeing as well as providing support and guidance including financial support and eligibility for Bursaries. Financial support varies between 16-18 and 19+ studying further education and with support for HE. Students are informed of the packages available and how to access them.

• The Wellbeing staff make referrals onwards for example to careers team for longer term guidance. Care experienced learners are also proactively contacted by the careers team to offer specialist 1:1 guidance sessions to ensure they are fully informed about how to achieve their career goals and to also raise their aspirations.

• College adapt a Person Centered approach to the support being offered and this can be tailor made for each individual dependent on their needs through the learners contact with a variety of staff through their college life.

• Work Placement Coordinators who work at the College actively support care leavers with opportunities to enter the world of work through work experience placements.

2. A Robust Employment Offer

We want to attract and recruit high quality individuals and to invest in a professionalised workforce with a focus on Continuing Professional Development.

Heart of Worcestershire College is committed to the active promotion and achievement of equality of opportunity in employment and to this end may include the adoption of such positive initiatives in the recruitment and selection of staff which are permitted by law.

Developing initiatives

The College is willing to explore the possibility of care leavers/NEET learners completing volunteering/work experience within the college.

 

3. Community

HoW College works with a number of organisations locally and actively participates in community initiatives; identifying skills and employment needs within the county and supporting businesses and our students to be successful. HoW works directly with a local café which is run solely by care leavers.

The College actively participates in the One Million Mentors programme; linking local employers and students to develop their employability skills. Care experienced individuals are given priority to receive mentoring and we are also developing our own internal mentoring programme.

We offer a 10% discount for Care Leavers in our hair and beauty salons Fusion based at Redditch Campus and Fountains based at St Dunstan’s Campus Worcester. Proof of ID and being a Care Leaver would be required and this would not be in conjunction with any other offer. Speak to the Wellbeing Team about this.

 

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Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University

 

Featured Signatory Offer Details

 

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University is a public university in Bath

1. Student

Overview

Care-experienced young people and care leavers are specifically identified as target groups with a priority status for action and support throughout the student life-cycle in the university’s Access and Participation Plan 2020-21 to 2024-25.  Under the leadership of the university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning), the Access and Participation Steering Group oversees the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the Plan, and the annual review of the university’s offer that underpins its commitment to the Care Leaver Covenant will be a standing item on its agenda.

Pre-entry

The university delivers its Be Inspired! outreach programme.  The highly-targeted programme is based on a learner progression framework that develops knowledge about the benefits of higher education and its role in career ambitions, supports aspiration and educational attainment and encourages and supports progression to higher education and the professions from KS2 onwards. The programme culminates in providing pre-entry information, advice and guidance to support care-experienced students in making informed decisions about higher education at their point of entry.

Access and Participation Officers who deliver the programme work closely with partner school and college coordinators to ensure that young people from a care background are one of the priority groups that should be included in the programme. 

The university’s Access and Participation Office also work with local authorities, virtual heads and the Education Officers of foster care agencies such as SWiiS, to deliver a range of outreach activity. 

Bespoke outreach programmes for care-experienced young people are also available through the Access and Participation Office on request, and these can include activities such as campus visit days or tours, subject enrichment activity or information sessions for young people and/or their carers, siblings and supporters.

The university is a member of the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) and the South West Universities Care Leavers Consortium (SWLAC).  For a number of years universities and colleges in the South West have worked through SWLAC to bring together its higher education outreach and student support practitioners with virtual heads and specialised professionals, to support care-experienced and care leavers in the region to access and participate in higher education.  Through its membership, the group maintains links to NNECL. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, recent SWLAC activity, in addition to its ongoing activity, has included a joint newsletter detailing the current outreach opportunities and support that is available from local universities for care-experienced young people and care leavers in the region, and a webinar specifically for care-experienced pupils and their guardians. 

Admissions

The university is currently reviewing its admissions policy, and as part of that process is carefully considering how to introduce a specific contextualised offer for care leavers ready for the next recruitment cycle.

Transitional support

From the point of a university offer, students who have disclosed on their UCAS application that they are care leavers are allocated a designated point of contact, who is an information, advice and guidance professional within the university’s Student Wellbeing Service, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.  The point of contact works in a multidisciplinary team of wellbeing advisors, accessibility advisors and mental health practitioners to provide holistic support, and will work with a student pre-arrival, during their studies and on succession planning. They will also enable and facilitate access to other university and external services as required to support the student.  This support also applies to students studying Bath Spa University courses at Partnership Colleges

Part of the university’s process at the applicant stage is to obtain details of a care leaver’s local authority and work with them to provide a cohesive transition.  This can include clarifying the financial support that the student will receive from the local authority, the provision of accommodation, arranging appropriate transport to university and liaising with the student and local authority to facilitate ongoing input from either side. Care leavers are guaranteed year-round accommodation in university-managed accommodation, providing they adhere to their license agreement.

To raise awareness of the support services available at the university, students have a further opportunity to disclose their care leaver status when they register through the university’s student portal.  The Student Wellbeing Service also uses a range of sources to identify potential care leavers including:

  • information that is provided to the university by the Student Loans Company (SLC) relating to students who have been assessed as statutory care leavers for funding purposes
  • working closely with the Unite Foundation who alert the service to any future or current students who have applied to them for support
  • direct contact or referrals from supporters, personal advisors or academic tutors.

The Student Wellbeing Service also runs student data reports at a number of intervals throughout the year to identify any students whose care leaver status may have been updated or changed to reduce the risk of missing students; for example, if there was a delay in their student funding being approved or if their care leaver confirmation is updated on the SLC database.

On-course support

Bath Spa University Undergraduate Bursary Scheme

Eligibility criteria for these awards are used to particularly encourage and support the continuation of UK-domiciled students from households with the lowest incomes who are also from areas where participation in higher education is low.  A number of individually assessed bursary awards for undergraduate entrants where household income is low and they face intersections of disadvantage, but they are from areas where participation is low is also available.  Awards range from £750 to £1,250 in years 1 and 2 of study, and from £1,000 to £1,500 in year 3 of study, depending on household income. 

In each year of study the university also provides a number of supplementary awards for bursary award-holders to further support entrants who are declared care leavers[1], or entrants who are currently living at an accredited Foyer[2], or who have moved out of an accredited Foyer in the past 12 months. The supplementary awards range from £150 to £250 per annum depending on household income. 

Bath Spa University Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Minimum Standard Bursary Scheme

The university provides a number of individual PGCE ITT bursary awards for one year of study for UK-domiciled entrants who meet the low household income and low participation area eligibility criteria.  Care leavers and trainees who are currently living at an accredited Foyer, or who have moved out of an accredited Foyer in the past 12 months are among the groups who are prioritised for this award. The award will be paid as a cash award of between £250 and £750 depending on household income.  If requested, trainees may arrange to take their award as a fee waiver. 

Bath Spa University Access Fund

Additional financial support is also available to all students through the Bath Spa University Access Fund.  The priority groups for the Bath Spa University Access Fund include students who are care leavers and students who are living at, or who have moved out of an accredited Foyer in the past 12 months, or are homeless.

Care Leavers’ Bursary

To be eligible for this bursary, students usually need to be under the age of 25 and to have been in Local Authority Care for three months or more since the age of 14.

Non-repayable bursaries of £1,000 per year are available to UK-domiciled care leavers who are studying full-time courses at Bath Spa University. If a student disclosed on their UCAS that they are a care leaver, they are sent an application form. If a student didn’t disclose on their UCAS form but think they may be eligible, they are invited to contact the Student Wellbeing Service to discuss their situation.

Foyer Bursary

The Foyer Federation is a charity that supports young people who become homeless. Non-repayable bursaries of £1,000 per year are available to students who have been living in a Foyer before coming to the university.

Unite Foundation Scholarship

The university works with Unite Students and the Unite Foundation to offer the Unite Foundation Scholarship Scheme. The scheme enables students who are care-experienced or estranged from their family to apply for free accommodation in the university’s Unite halls of residence for the duration of their studies.

Continuing pastoral and academic support

Throughout their studies, care leavers will continue to receive holistic support from their designated point of contact, who will draw on the wider expertise of university staff including wellbeing advisors, accessibility advisors, mental health practitioners, academic tutors, accommodation and financial professionals if required. 

Care leavers benefit from priority referrals to academic support services such as the Writing and Learning Centre and the Careers and Employability Service.  A designated point of contact will work with care leavers on succession planning and, at the students’ discretion, will hold periodic meetings with them and their Personal Advisor to map progress and attainment to date and feed into the generation of any Pathway Plans.

Careers and Employability

The Careers and Employability Service works to improve progression to highly skilled employment and postgraduate study and to reduce gaps in equality of opportunity in progression for students from underrepresented groups. Where gaps in progression for underrepresented groups have already been identified, the Careers and Employability Service has developed a number schemes to improve graduate outcomes which include, but are not limited to:

  • short paid internships in difficult to access professions which need social capital or capacity for regional migration
  • mobility grants to support short unpaid work experience
  • the Bath Spa University GradTalent Development Agency, which develops good graduate outcomes with a range of employers with varying conditions to support wider access. This enables the placement of graduates in the right working environment
  • mentoring and inspirational events to provide role models and advice for underrepresented groups have been designed to introduce students to a wider range of possibilities
  • partially funded internships and accredited placements that support progression from lower skilled part-time roles to higher skilled project based roles.

Care leavers are among the priority groups for signposting, selection and funding for these schemes.  All Bath Spa University students are eligible for ongoing careers support post-graduation.

The Bath Spa Outward Mobility Award was established to assist students wishing to embark on international placements, either research or study trips that are related to their undergraduate degree course. The award of up to £3,500 is funded through the university’s Access and Participation Plan to encourage students from groups who are underrepresented in higher education, and who might not have otherwise considered a period abroad because of the cost.  Care leavers are one of the priority groups for this award.

The employment of students as Access and Participation Student Advocates is a key feature of the university’s widening participation outreach programme.  During the recruitment process, applicants are invited to disclose whether they are a care leaver or care-experienced.  Students who are from groups that are underrepresented in higher education are aware of potential barriers that young people might face when considering higher education, and as students who have negotiated these barriers they can often offer insights, support and encouragement to young people who may be facing similar obstacles.  Working with the university’s outreach officers, student advocates are also gaining paid work experience and developing graduate-level skills in a professional setting.

The university’s approach to supporting care leavers is continually evaluated to understand how better it can support these students to ensure equality of opportunity.

2. A Robust Employment Offer

Bath Spa University will continue to explore how it supports care leavers as an employer and update in due course.

3. Community

The School of Education at Bath Spa University has worked for many years with local authorities and schools and colleges to support children in care and care leavers.  In Care, In School was a project jointly led by the university and Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) in 2011-12.  Partners included the PSHE Association, the Who Cares? Trust (now ‘Become’) and most importantly, the B&NES In Care Council. Since 2016 the resource has been openly available online

Since 2012, In Care, In School has featured in a number of publications about the education of children in care, and the materials have been widely used across the country in a number of ways. Discussions with schools as to how best to respond to the issues raised through In Care, In School were an important factor in the development of the original Bath Spa University/B&NES Attachment Aware Schools programme, and the eventual creation in 2017 of the Attachment Research Community (ARC).  The ARC is a charitable organisation with a mission to support all schools to be attachment and trauma aware by 2025, and supports schools and care settings to develop best attachment and trauma aware practice. Richard Parker from Bath Spa University was a founder trustee of ARC, and today coordinates the ARC Higher Education and Initial Teacher Education networks.

Currently the university is working with the National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH) to offer a flexible, stand-alone online Master’s level module starting in September 2021 in the Education of Care Experienced Children that can count towards its full MA Professional Practice course  The module is designed to support people working with care-experienced children including foster carers, adoptive parents and carers, teachers, social workers and virtual school heads and team members. 

Through working with the university’s Access and Participation Outreach Office, local and regional organisations that support children in care and care leavers, including charities, agencies and local authorities, can access support and free room hire across our campuses to deliver events.

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Warrington & Vale Royal College

Warrington & Vale Royal College

 

Featured Signatory Offer Details

 

Warrington & Vale Royal College

Warrington and Vale Royal College, previously known as Warrington Collegiate, is a vocational learning provider in Warrington and Winsford

 

1. Student

Pre-admission:

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.

Admission:

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.

Destinations:

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

 
 

3. Community

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.  

 

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University of Plymouth

University of Plymouth

 

Featured Signatory Offer Details

 

University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth is a public university based predominantly in Plymouth

 

1. Student

Support for care leavers at pre-admission/application stage

  • Engagement with care leavers from across the South West through their virtual schools
  • Ring-fenced places on certain recruitment activities for care leavers
  • Specific campus visit/talks for care leavers within the virtual schools
  • Support and guidance for offer holders
  • We are currently working closely with Plymouth City Council to plan more events throughout the academic year to raise the aspirations of care leavers while they are at school.
  • We are also linking in with the Council to provide MADE sessions for all members of the virtual schools as well as their carers (www.made-training.com/online-courses/).

 

Support for care leavers while studying with us

  • A dedicated Student Hub team as a single point of contact to support care leavers – we offer you an initial meeting at the start of the year and a follow-up meeting later on in the year
  • A web page for care leavers
  • A comprehensive Careers service offer for care leavers covering as large number of events, development programmes, individual appointments, interactive resources, work experience opportunities (from casual work to internships and placements), graduate-level vacancies, industry and sector insight and mentoring programmes, all accessible through our 24/7 platform MyCareer and the Student Hub. This central ‘on demand’ service is also complemented by Careers Service curriculum input into a large number of our academic programmes.
  • A place to live for care leavers in University accommodation all year round
  • Specific funding that’s just for care leavers – we give every care leaver a £200 Wilko voucher at the start of the course.
  • Additional funding available (such as bursaries and grants) – as part of our Mayflower Award we offer an award of up to £1500 per academic year (criteria apply).
  • The Plymouth Fund has been set up to encourage donations from the public to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including care leavers. We are currently looking to see if we can create an enhanced care leavers bursary for care leavers on the year 0 of the medical degree.
  • Financial and funding advice from our Student Funding Unit
  • Support for refugees and those seeking asylum – from September 2021 we will be offering scholarships and a living bursary
  • Care Leavers are encouraged to access to our full range of Student Learning Services to support their academic studies which include:
  • teaching sessions on academic literacies embedded in the programme of study
  • academic writing tutorials
  • peer assisted learning schemes
  • study advice open hours with dedicated Learning Developers
  • self directed digital teaching and learning resources
  • As part of our Access and Participation Plan, we will closely monitor and track the cohort performance over the next 5 years to build a stronger evidence base for supporting Care Leavers.
  • We are constantly reviewing our student support offering at the University and are committed to improving our care leaver provision. We will update any enhanced offer in due course.

 

Support for care leavers for after studies

  • Personal invitation and priority matching for care leavers for our Professional Mentoring Programme enhance career and employability skills.
  • Free graduation ticket and academic dress are provided to every care leaver.
  • A Careers Service support package for graduates, all accessible through our MyCareer platform. This includes access to events, individual appointments, networks and resources and is wrapped up in a support package promoted through a number of career-related campaigns that specifically reach out to our graduates. Within these campaigns, under-represented groups, including care leavers, will be prioritised.

In addition to the support outlined above, we have a number of specific opportunities for under-represented student groups (which includes care leavers):

  • A professional mentoring programme
  • A small number of career development bursaries (up to £250). Please note that we are piloting this scheme in 2020/21
  • A small number of externally funded work experience bursaries (typically in the region of £1000).  Please note that this is often subject to change, depending on external funding criteria, but where possible we will always align these available funds to under-represented student groups.

We also have a range of highly engaging multi-media content to help all students with their CVs, applications and interviews (and other assessment methods), including online checkers and simulators. 

In 2020/21 we have established a working group within the Careers Service to drive forward a number of actions relating to our Access and Participation Plan (APP) using a ‘theory of change’ lifecycle model.

We have also included some systems upgrades to ensure that under-represented students (including care leavers) are easily identifiable on our University-wide career management system, to allow for direct communications with these groups about opportunities and support we provide, including priority places or advance notices.

 
 

2. A Robust Employment Offer

The University is committed to supporting its increasingly diverse community of staff and provides additional support for particular groups including those that are underrepresented, including care leavers. Examples of the support that is on offer that could be of benefit to care leavers includes

  • An Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team offering support and advice
  • A range of staff networks that include parents and carers, grief and bereavement and LGBT+. We are continually expanding our staff networks so in the future could include a Care Leavers network
  • An Employee Assistance Programme which offers a range of support services including online resources, a 24/7 helpline, counselling and advice
  • A range of staff development opportunities including access to online learning, coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Pastoral and spiritual support
  • A range of employee benefits from staff discount schemes to flexible working and compassionate leave
  • A range of wellbeing support / initiatives including those mentioned above plus training, physical and mental health support

The Careers Service offers a wide-range of vacancies through our MyCareer platform. Depending on the external employer, these will cover various rates of pay, start/end dates, locations, contract types whilst articulating the selection criteria (knowledge, skills and experience) requested by the employer. 

Students and graduates can easily search vacancies depending on these criteria.   In addition, we also promote a graduate jobs board for the whole of the South-West, called GradSW (where recruiters post regional graduate vacancies, which are open to any graduate from any region).

This particularly important for many UoP students who come from the region and stay in the region after graduation.   This site also contains a useful directory of the major graduate employers in the region.

 
 

3. Community

Oral health outreach – we use link workers in the community and a non-clinical outreach approach to work with homeless people, those with addictions etc. as well as communities who find it difficult to access health services.

Our civic mission – Plymouth is one of the first cities to sign up to the civic agreement and are committed to a process involving full consultation and reflection to understand our community connections. We are working on an agreement to set out the University’s role in supporting Plymouth’s future prosperity and wellbeing, rooted in a shared analysis of local needs and opportunities. We anticipate tackling inequalities, particularly health inequalities, will be a key theme. One of the areas will be looking at how we work with our communities.

Engaging Students in Knowledge Exchange – we are one of 20 universities nationally to be awarded funding to look at knowledge exchange opportunities for students. One of the key elements is to understand barriers to student engagement and ensuring all opportunities are inclusive. We know that students that take part go onto better employment opportunities but don’t fully understand barriers to taking part.

 

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De Montfort University

De Montfort University

 

Featured Signatory Offer Details

 

De Montfort University

De Montfort University Leicester is a public university in the city of Leicester, England

 

1. Student

DMU supports all students with experience of care; to be eligible for the Care Leaver Bursary (CLB) students need to have spent at least 13 weeks in care after 14th birthday and one day on/after 16th birthday, care experienced students not eligible for the CLB can apply to the DMU Support Fund which has a care experienced category. 

In 2018 the summer school was absorbed into the activities of the Reach partnership which has now been replaced by UniConnect Outreach Hub programme commissioned by the Office for Students. The programme will be focusing targeted widening participation work to this cohort from this academic year 2020/21 (the activity has only just started).

Care leavers are a target area for the collaborative provision project.

Transitional and Student support

The Transitions Team consists of two designated point of contact (HE Guidance Officers) for care experienced students. Information is promoted through the DMU website, Open Days, Propel and NNECL.

Transitions offer pastoral support throughout the student journey from pre-entry onwards.  The team can offer bespoke campus tours and 1:1 guidance with students interested in undertaking higher education whether at DMU or elsewhere.  This can involve meeting with academics, campus tours and meeting current care leaver students to find out what being at university is like. We can also offer this at general Open Days.

DMU has partnered with the Unite Foundation to provide free hall places in a Unite Students hall for 3 years for care leaver/estranged students only.  The team assist new and continuing students to make an application and support them in this process.  We will also act as housing guarantor for a limited number of applicants where all other avenues have been exhausted. This is an increasing issue as local authorities limit their support for care leavers due to budget constraints.  DMU also has a commitment to offer 365 day accommodation for care leavers if needed.

The Transitions Team is proactive in contacting applicants when their details are received through the UCAS tick box.  Applicants are emailed as a first point of contact introducing the team and asking for confirmation of care leaver status to ensure they have accurately ticked the box.  This is followed up by a phone call to ensure everything is in place for starting university and evidence has been received regarding care leaver status. There is a £1000 care leaver bursary, awarded for each year of study and during periods of interruption. From 2020/21 this has been extended as a pilot, to all care experienced students who can provide evidence of time in care.  Housing and kitchen packs are also available to students who do not have their own things when moving into halls.

The team organise a welcome event for all new care leavers at the start of the academic year. In 2019 DMU donated the university’s Leicester City FC match day hospitality box to enable a small group of care leavers to get together for a meal and to watch a Premier League match at the King Power Stadium. We hope to repeat this in future years, but have had to organise a virtual meeting for 2020 with gift bags delivered to each participant.

Besides having responsibility for care leaver students, Transitions also organise preparation days and summer schools for DMU offer holders. This gives us the opportunity to offer paid work to care leavers to act as student ambassadors. This helps to build their confidence and also gives us an opportunity to get to know some of them better. 

Through attending training and providing ongoing support to care leavers we understand some of the challenges these students face and have nominated some of our care leavers for awards. Three DMU students have won Learning & Work Institute national awards which has given them the opportunity to have their success celebrated and attend a reception at the Houses of Parliament. Their stories are available at the following links.

www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/award-winners/diana-omokore/

www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/award-category/outstanding-individual-award/2017/

www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/award-winners/adele-tilley/

DMU has a statistical dashboard to analyse care leaver attainment and key characteristics. The dashboard draws on data captured during the registration processes and at academic milestones which allows support services to review: distribution of students across courses and faculties; progression and withdrawal data; grade level outcomes for final year students; and key demographic information, such as ethnicity and disability. The dashboard also allows for comparison with university averages to help identify distinct care leaver patterns.

Information on care leavers is included in the University’s Post-Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and also personal tutor training to raise awareness of the additional challenges this group may have, alongside estranged students and others with no or little family support.

DMU has a specialist careers advisor for care leavers – Sang Townsley. Sang previously worked with care leavers and has experience of this groups needs. 

The team attend East Midlands Care Leavers Activities and Student Support (EMCLASS) meetings which feed into the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL). NNECL’s first meeting was held at DMU and the second conference was hosted at the university.  A member of the Transitions Team at DMU currently holds a strategic role within NNECL as Vice Chair (Conference), and as the East Midlands lead, nnecl.org/about/national-strategy-group.  DMU has demonstrated its commitment to care leavers by supporting NNECL and allowing attendance at events such as the launch of the Centre for Social Justice’s (CSJ) report 12 by 24.  DMU has a commitment to signing up to the NNECL Quality Mark once it is launched.

Due to COVID-19 DMU have recruited an additional member of staff to focus on care leaver students, ensuring that they have more regular contact with the Transitions Team and reinforcing messaging that the service is still open.  We will review this post regarding maintaining the additional support for the rest of the academic year. In addition, we will monitor the new care experienced category added to the DMU Support Fund with the view to making this permanent.

Action

  • We will review our approach to admissions for care leavers and ensure that applicants are considered for a contextualised admission (reduced offer or priority interview) if they do not meet entry requirements.
  • We will formalise our housing guarantor offer to care leavers to remove this barrier to a smooth transition to university.
  • We will continue to review our offer to ensure that the needs of care leavers can be met, including their wellbeing and emotional support.
 
 

2. A Robust Employment Offer

DMU is keen to explore how, within our organisation, we could respond to this aspect of the Covenant. This could include additional tailored support for student care-leavers to access employment, although this would require reflection on the low success of a previous intervention as mentioned above.

Action:

  • Explore internal internships and support care leavers to access internal and external placements and other relevant opportunities
  • Designated Contact within Careers and Employability to promote and enhance access to opportunities at DMU for care experienced students
  • A paid frontrunner internship for a Care Leaver Co-ordinator will be ringfenced annually for a care experienced student.
 
 

3. Community

Community relationships and liaison with schools are predominantly managed through DMU Local activity around WP, with care leavers being a category of interest for WP rather than across the whole portfolio of intervention.   Schools and college interventions are not specifically targeted at care leavers at present.

DMU Local maintains relationships with more than 60 schools in the area through participation in on and off campus projects and events, as well as regular communication with WP leads in those schools.

The Transitions Team attend the Leicestershire Virtual School college forums.  This is organised by the virtual school team who invite designated care leaver/children in care college contacts.  The Forum is designed to address current issues and concerns, exchange good practice, build networks and referral mechanisms.  We have worked to build good relationships with Leicester City and Leicestershire County Councils and attend training/conferences delivered by the virtual school team.

The team have also established a relationship with Leicestershire Cares . Transitions works with this local charity to promote care leaver support through activities designed to promote wellbeing, engagement and life skills. The charity has come on to campus to meet students and two DMU students are currently active within the group.

A Care Professionals training day is delivered once a year open to everyone supporting care leavers in a professional capacity, from social workers, personal advisors and education teams, through to foster carers. The day provides delegates with key information about studying at university as a care leaver and provides an opportunity to discuss support available.

DMUGlobal currently offers a subsidised international student experience to all students.  Students can apply for additional support through a widening participation fund. We will actively promote this opportunity to care leavers to increase the take up amongst this group.

 

Action

  • DMU’s widening participation approach is currently being redeveloped at present and Care Leavers will feature within this – we are exploring support projects in the community for care leavers as a potentially isolated population and will have further updates in the future.
  • Actively promote DMU Global trips to encourage care leavers to gain an international experience to enrich their studies.
  • Promote the ‘Good Neighbours’ buddying scheme to care leavers starting at DMU in September to help with the transition to university and life in halls.
  • Work with DMU partners to provide a cultural/sport opportunity at least once in the first term
 

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