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Care Leavers in Further Education: Messages from Research. Dr Graham Connelly. Education & Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament: Inquiry into the Attainment of Looked After Children.

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Education & Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament: Inquiry into the Attainment of Looked After Children


Supporting Care Leavers in Scottish Further Education Colleges (SFC, 2011)

the aim of the research

To conduct an evaluation of three pilot projects supported by Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funding concerned with the engagement in further education (FE) provision of young people aged between 15 and 19 who were looked after (either at home and away from home) by local authorities or who have left care.

The aim of the research


Jewel & Esk



John Wheatley

Dumfries & Galloway

the young people
The young people
  • 428 participants, over two years
  • Enrolments: 229 (2009/10); 270 (2010/11)
  • Of 499, 71 students returned for second year
  • Age: 13-24 (mean = 16); 35% < 16 in 2010/11
  • Male: 49%; Female: 51%
  • Disabilities: 18% (2009/10); 24% (2010/11)
emerging issues 1
Emerging issues 1
  • The relatively high non-completion rate and low rate of achievement of qualifications highlights the importance of focusing more on support to stay on course.
  • Some young people from a looked after background need additional support to be ready, both mentally, socially and practically, to engage with college. The questions for college partnerships will centre on the best use of resources to make this support available.
emerging issues 2
Emerging issues 2
  • Most young people had clear aspirations for the future but for some it was not clear that the courses they had undertaken had helped them to achieve these although they may have gained other benefits from the college experience such as meeting new people. Several young people provided examples of a failure to match learning opportunities to their aspirations and existing level of educational attainment.
emerging issues 3
Emerging issues 3
  • But some young people identified having been placed on the wrong college course, a course that they didn’t like, a course they had no choice over or one which did not appear to acknowledge prior qualifications. Some young people felt they were not learning things from their college course.
emerging issues 31
Emerging issues 3
  • Many young people spoke of significant achievements, such as paid or voluntary work, independent living and caring for others, in addition to maintaining their college course.
emerging issues 4
Emerging issues 4
  • The time requirements for negotiating and maintaining partnership relationships, providing staff development and for giving support for individual students can be underestimated. Partnerships present challenges such as a sharing ownership of the project and reaching agreements about sharing information about young people.
success factors according to college staff
Success factors – according to college staff
  • Staff with time freed up to develop relationships with young people and referral agencies.
  • Understanding looked after young people and care leavers. Improved awareness has influenced colleges’ policies, systems and practices.
  • The pilots benefited from having good relationships with partners in local authorities, Skills Development Scotland, schools and voluntary sector agencies.
advantages of the quality mark
Advantages of the Quality Mark
  • Framework provides a check of provision against good practice.
  • Discipline involved in preparing an action plan and identifying key responsibilities and delivery timescales is very useful.
  • Helps to raise awareness about looked after children and care leavers, including among senior managers and board members.
  • Highlights gaps in provision.
  • UK-wide scheme is valuable in liaising with partners - may be useful in helping to attract specific funding.
concerns raised about the quality mark
Concerns raised about the Quality Mark
  • Buttle’s capacity to sustain Q M for FE?
  • Champions of the Quality Mark within the colleges are in pilot projects which are about to end and the experience may be lost.
  • Buttle UK does not provide a plaque. Presence of a plaque at a college reception is a useful way of publicising the award.

Contact details:

Direct line: 0141 950 3060

CELCIS: 0141 950 3683