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Realising the potential of Children in Care

National Refugee Week 14th to 21st June 2021

Posted on by Judy Molyneux

This years theme is We can not Walk Alone and Virtual School Kent are celebrating their work with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children providing educational advice, guidance, resources, ESOL teaching and support.

Since 2014 Kent have accommodated over 3000 UASC and all of these young people have had access to specialist educational support from VSK. We have worked with health partners to help produce UASC health information and have collaborated with British Red Cross and Kent Refugee Action Network on providing additional ESOL classes across the county.

We continue to develop resources and tools for our UASC learners including the recent provision of 60 ipads with pre installed ESOL software learning apps to our reception centres, along with the distribution of hard copy education packs to all foster carers and to young people when they move into independent living in the community. Recent collaborations with Adult Education in Kent has meant that young people now have a wider choice of accessible ESOL courses for 16-18 year olds, especially if they are not ready for study at College.

VSK locality teams working with statutory school age children continue to work with individual schools to develop more specialised ESOL/EAL provision/capacity using the Pupil Premium Plus funding to develop Ready For Schools programmes. Recently this has included a renewed drive to work with schools on promoting the internationally recognised Cambridge University suite of English exams for ESOL/EAL students as a compliment to existing qualifications offered by schools.

Further Information

Kazzum Arts and Health Charity who run a Pathways Project for Refugees. They also provide a range of resources for primary and secondary schools.

Refugee Week have proudced some resources and a video explaining the help and resources for schools that want to get involved in Refugee week plus access to a young peoples pack.

Let’s celebrate diversity, inclusion and achievement – let’s celebrate National Refugee Week!

Good News Stories from the VSK Team

  • This young person came into the Country in March 2020 and was placed with KRAN to support him until he could join an ESOL course in Sept 2020. He lives within a house share and has positive influential relationships with the other house mates. He has excelled at College, attending all lessons, completing all homework as well as asking for continuous extra work. He tried hard to communicate in English at his pep meetings even though a interpreter was present and he pushed himself to make incredible progression to the point that by the second pep meeting he declined the interpreter and manged by himself. He took advice and suggestions on education strategies to improve his English and set himself goals and targets that he achieved. He has built incredibly positive relationships with the staff at the college and within KCC and is always polite and pleasant. He has decided on pursuing a ambitious career of becoming a doctor within the NHS as he wants to give back to his local community and work hard to support people through medical help and support as he has received so much support himself at a time when he needed it most. He has been supported to apply for the new non-traditional route into medicine through Canterbury College Science level 2 and 3 courses, then progressing on to the new CCCU medical training undergraduate courses and as well as taking this on he has also signed up to complete GCSE Biology alongside these incredibly demanding courses. He has worked with his tutor to improve his written English and to complete the extensive entry task requirements for the course. VSK have supported him with applications, career pathways and encouragement to achieve and he has expressed his thanks at the support he has received. This young man is a highly motivated and dedicated young person who will go on to achieve great things and is a positive role model for the community. He encourages other young people in his house to learn English and to plan careers and set goals for themselves. He is such a positive person and has overcome his own personal and emotional barriers to achieve.

  • One young person has been offered a place to train at Whitstable Football Academy after qualifying for one of only 21 places on offer in Kent. This young person demonstrated exceptional skill and talent during the trials and competed against multiple other young people to be offered the place. The young person is absolutely passionate and dedicated to playing football and wants to pursue this as a career as far as they are able too. The young person will be completing a Level 3 NCFE Sports diploma whilst training with the team and will be put forward to play at local and national games that scouts from large football clubs attend to recruit new promising young players. The young person will still be completing their last year of ESOL and will receive additional support from the College to help them achieve their qualifications.

Using the A2 Key for Schools Cambridge University ESOL Qualification with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

This qualification was introduced by our UASC Senior Education Support Officer as a route to enable our young people to undertake a qualification which would test the key English Language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. One of our Year 11s had already shown, in his engagement at his new school, how very keen he was to learn, and therefore was an ideal candidate to study for the qualification. An experienced and dedicated EAL tutor has been delivering the course twice weekly over the last few months, and the young person will be taking his Cambridge Exam in June.

Throughout, the school, his Social Worker and foster carer, have supported this opportunity for our young person. The school accommodated the sessions required within their timetable, and the foster carer has been helping him to revise and practise for his upcoming exam. The local Exam Centre has multiple exam dates which makes it easier to fit in alongside the school timetable and holidays.

The A2 Qualification will support our UASC young people in developing both their language skills, and their confidence, and will be an additional boon when they apply for courses at post 16.