This week we submitted our written evidence to the Government’s Education Committees inquiry, Children’s social care. We focused our response on two areas and wanted to share an update on that; ‘How children’s social care can impact and improve the educational and longer-term outcomes for care leavers’, and ‘The Government’s social care implementation strategy, Stable Homes, Built on Love released in February 2023, including, how effective it is projected to be in the long-term?’
For the first part of our response, ‘how children’s social care can impact and improve the educational and longer-term outcomes for care leavers’, we wanted the Committee to really understand how the sectors collaborative work, including through NNECL sharing effective practice, providing professional development webinars and a proactive peer to peer support, is making positive impact for care experienced learners.
We also brought the Committee’s attention to the success of the NNECL Quality Mark (QM). To achieve the NNECL QM, which the sector has described as “gold standard,” universities and colleges must evidence the holistic and practical support they provide to care leavers including: a designated contact, financial bursaries, well-being and pastoral care, help with accommodation, work placements and careers guidance. This change management programme approach is not a tick box exercise, what is does it is generate space for deep dives into an institutions provision for care experienced learners.
When considering ‘how effective the Government’s social care implementation strategy could be’, we highlighted the “black hole of further education” and urged the Committee to encourage Government to lead on addressing the structural barriers blocking progress here. We recognise many further education colleges have developed excellent local offers for their care experienced students, however, we know and research published by the Civitas think tank in 2023 confirms, the overall lack of progress between 16 and 18 for this group.
At NNECL we believe further education represents a critical “second chance” pathway for many care experienced people and that where the pipeline from school to college remains unaddressed, it is unlikely we will see a decrease the number of NEETS, nor an increase the numbers of care experienced people going to university. This conversation will undoubtedly continue across the sector, particularly in our National and Regional Strategy Groups and we look forward to hearing the Committees response the inquiry in the next few months.
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