Looked-after Children - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Sally Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Assessment, Learning and Teaching, Inder Hunjan, Access and Community Development Manager and Katrina Kennedy Widening Participation project manager, Leeds Metropolitan University

  Some comments from Leeds Metropolitan University about how we work with children leaving foster care to study at Leeds Met.


  Since September 2006 the Get Ahead Team at Leeds Metropolitan University have expanded their work with young people in public care. The "Next Step" programme support young people in care enabling them to participate in Higher Education activities, in order to create opportunities for the future. The project is run in partnership with Education Leeds and Leeds Social Services.

  It is agreed that while children in public care are no more or less able than the general population, their educational success is extremely low. Pupils is public care are 13 times more likely than other pupils to be excluded from school. Key stage tests show poor results for younger children in care, and Government figures show that only 43% of children leaving care in England aged 16 or over had at least one GCSE or GNVQ. Only 6% were achieving five good GCSEs, compared with around half of all young people, and only 1% go on to university.

  The failure to perform well in education is linked to the lack of stability in the young peoples' lives and the tendency to be moved frequently between homes and schools. Research has shown that this severely undermines confidence and self-motivation which impacts negatively on attainment and progression with education.

  The "Get Ahead" widening participation team at Leeds Met have devised the following programme of events to address these issues and make a positive impact in the lives of these young people. The programme of events includes:


  Student Ambassadors from the University mentored young people from years 10 and 11 every Tuesday afternoon at South Leeds Learning Centre. Participants work with the same student mentors each week which provides them with a stable contact, often lacking within their lives. Sessions include activities such as:

    —  Help with GCSE coursework and revision.

    —  Group work and positive identity.

    —  Revision techniques and past papers.

    —  A rap workshop.

Saturday Study Skills

  The aim was to encourage a positive attitude to study through fun and interactive workshops.

  The study skills sessions aim to foster a positive attitude to study through sessions on revision techniques, mind mapping, time management, effective note taking, writing essays and completing coursework.

  Sessions facilitated by staff from the Get Ahead team assisted by a team of student ambassadors. Teachers from specific subjects were also invited to give extra input on their subject specialism.

  Among our ambassadors is a young man who first encountered Leeds met through one of our summer schools, then came to study as an undergraduate, then undertook a Masters degree with us. He is currently helping to make a video about "Looked after" children entering higher education for use with schools and in our own Freshers festival.

  To encourage participation in the events the activities were designed to be interactive and fun.

  To complement the sessions and encourage team work and group bonding each session concluded with a social event which included an evening meal.

Family Day

  Family days, which are currently held each half term, this introduced young people and carers to a university environment.

  The days are made up of fun and interactive activities which encourage young people to view the facilities at the university and work together.

  The days also provided an opportunity to inform carers about progression into Higher Education.

Easter Revision Programme

  Each year the Get Ahead team facilitate an Easter Revision Programme entitled "Reaching for A*". This is a three-day GCSE revision programme, which helps Year 11 pupils prepare for their forthcoming exams. Advanced skills teachers assisted by student tutors provide the classes which cover the core subjects of Maths, English and Science. The young people on the programme were sign posted to this activity.

Residential events

  The Higher Education Summer School is part of the established programme of Get Ahead events. It brings together young people from across the Yorkshire region to enjoy a wide range of events and activities designed to give a taster of university life.

  The Summer School forms part of the government Aimhigher initiative which aims to increase the motivation, aspiration and attainment of young people who are judged to have high ability but whose background is such that they might not consider applying for Higher Education.

  Participants from "The Next Step" initiative will be invited to the HE Summer School as part of their ongoing aspiration raising programme.

  The events will concluded with the opportunity to attend a one day event in the Dales countryside attending the Learning to Listen school.

  A celebratory certificate ceremony for both the mentors and mentees has been arranged by Education Leeds and Leeds Social Services at the Novotel in Leeds for Friday 6 July.

May 2008

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