Supporting Care Leavers in Further Education

Each year thousands of young people leave care between the ages of 16–18 and face the challenges of living independently, as well as understanding their rights, the support available to them and navigating the pathways to learning and work. Many had a patchy school education, experienced several moves whilst in care and struggle with emotional challenges as a result of their experiences. It’s not surprising therefore, that at 19, care leavers are more than twice as likely to not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) as their peers who were not in care.

With the right support, care leavers can and do achieve highly in further education, and successfully progress on to higher education and into work. To help learning providers support better outcomes for care leavers, Buttle UK developed the Quality Mark in 2006. Although the Quality Mark ceased to operate this year (2015), NIACE and Buttle UK have produced a guide for FE colleges and other learning providers, based on effective approaches adopted across the UK through the Buttle UK Quality Mark. The guide showcases four colleges that achieved the Buttle UK Quality Mark at exemplary level, and a number of other colleges that developed effective practice to support better outcomes for care leavers.

One example is Hugh Baird College in Bootle, which saw young care leavers’ retention increase from 39% to 89% following the introduction of its support programme. The college achieved this by training staff regularly, securing ongoing commitment from all staff, understanding students’ support needs early on, and offering students regular meetings with support staff, among other measures.

The guide has been divided under the section headers of the Buttle UK Quality Mark Framework and provides examples of how colleges have met each of the requirements. It is accompanied by additional useful documents.