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The step to higher education is daunting for everyone – but for those who come from a care background it can be even more so. That’s why UCAS have developed a care leavers toolkit of resources to help professionals support students in care.
Here are their top ten tips:
- Advocate, encourage and support the educational development of children in care. Have aspirations for them from a very young age.
- Forward planning is extremely important. If a young person who is in care is thinking about higher education, make sure that an adviser knows this at their school. This is essential to ensure they get the appropriate funding and support as early as possible.
- Help them plan for the university or college that suits them best.
a. Involve yourself with planning and preparation.
b. Attend open days with them.
c. Gather information about the support packages available.
d. Encourage them to speak to the designated care leaver contact at each university or college.
- Find out if certain universities or colleges have special arrangements for care leavers. For example, some offer university accommodation over the holidays, others may give priority access to, or even a guaranteed place, in university accommodation. Become’s website Propel provides general information about moving into higher education from care, alongside specific details about the support individual unis and colleges across the UK offer.
- Familiarise yourself with the UCAS application process and application deadlines. List key dates so you know what needs to be done.
- Listen. Encourage them to talk about how they feel about moving on, starting afresh and aspects of university or college life.
- Encourage and support them to develop new friendships when they start university or college.
- Prepare them for independent living. Get them up to speed with self-care skills like cooking, cleaning and budgeting.
- Make sure that any financial support they receive from their local authority is confirmed in writing and that they have a copy of the document when they start university or college.
- Keep in touch. Make sure you find the time to regularly contact them to see how they are getting on once they have moved on.