Our Transitions and Leaving Care Adviser, Pete Johnson, attended an event at Manchester University called Supporting the Supporters on 15th February.
The aim of the event was to provide information to foster carers, social workers, teachers and other practitioners about university places for young people in or leaving care.
Just 8% of care leavers access higher education, compared to 50% of the general population (Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, 2015).
He reported that the day was ‘uplifting’, as it transpired that any looked-after child who is thinking about going to Manchester University and is unsure about what it might entail, practically or financially, can request a face-to-face chat with one of the student ambassadors.
These student ambassadors are care leavers themselves, so they have practical experience of the whole application process and would be able to explain what support would be available. It was a group of these students that facilitated the workshops during the conference. They talked about their own experiences, challenges they’d faced and what has made a difference to them.
There was also the opportunity to tour the campus and chat informally to both the Care Leavers and other people at the event.
At The Foster Care Co-operative we have our own training programme, 'Raising Educational Aspirations', and the opportunity of this student input will be a valuable addition beyond that training. We are hoping that more universities offer this level of support and guidance to care leavers, to help make the transition to higher education more accessible and less daunting.
More information about what Manchester University offer to care leavers can be found here: http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=8259