Transition into Post-16 Education: The Experience of Care Leavers
Project Team: Dr Ruth Rogers
Funder: Aimhigher Kent and Medway
Completion Date: 2011
Young people leaving care and making the transition towards living independently have tended to be amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged social groups in the UK. Despite moves towards widening participation, young people in care also remain significantly under-represented in Higher Education, with only an estimated 1% of care leavers going on to university.
Aimhigher Kent and Medway, this project explored the extent, nature and appropriateness of existing support provided to care leavers in the Kent and Medway area as they moved on from compulsory education.
The research included 35 interviews with care leavers, social services, and Further Education and Higher Education student support. The interviews discussed the levels of support provided for care leavers by social services, the Local Authority, Further Education colleges and Higher Education institutions, and the experiences of looked after children as they made the transition out of state care.
The research findings were presented to the Aimhigher Kent and Medway Care Leaver Progression Partnership, which fed into the development of the newly formed strategy group: ‘The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers’ (NNECL) in June 2013, which consists of further and higher education representatives and members of national organisations committed to the progression and support of Care Leavers. This, in turn, led to the development of a further project, funded by the Greater London Authority exploring the role and value of ‘Near Peer Mentoring’ for looked after children. This project evaluates the effectiveness of a GLA scheme providing looked after children aged 13-19 with mentors of a ‘similar’ age who have previously been in the care system, but have gone on to become either university students or graduates. Ruth Rogers was also invited to present the findings at a plenary lecture in 2014 in the SOS Children’s Villages Conference ‘Quality Education for Children at Social Risk’, in Estonia.
Findings and Conclusions
The research demonstrated that out-of-county care leavers living in Kent and Medway were disadvantaged when compared to in-county care leavers in terms of access to support. It also found that there was insufficient information sharing between the various agencies responsible for the wellbeing and support of care leavers and a lack of clarity between agencies in terms of their various responsibilities.
As well as an unpublished research report, the findings of the research were published in the following two articles:
Rogers, R. (2011) ‘I remember thinking, why isn’t there someone to help me? Why isn’t there someone who can help me make sense of what I’m going through?: Instant adulthood’ and the transition of young people out of state care’, Journal of Sociology, 47(4), pp. 411-426
Rogers, R (2015) ‘Taking Responsibility for the Provision of Financial, Housing, and Emotional Support for Young People Leaving Care’ Australian Social Work, 68(1), pp. 99-114