Further Education: Care Leavers

Department for Education written question – answered at on 28 February 2024.

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Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps her Department has taken to support care leavers move into (a) further and (b) tertiary education.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

In 'Stable Homes, Built on Love', the strategy for the reform of children’s social care, the department gave a commitment to improve the education, employment and training outcomes of children in care and care leavers by 2027. This can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/650966a322a783001343e844/Children_s_Social_Care_Stable_Homes__Built_on_Love_consultation_response.pdf.

The department set out a number of actions to take this forward, including:

  • The national rollout of £24 million of Pupil Premium Plus-style funding to looked-after children and care leavers in 16-19 education, building on an initial £8 million pilot that launched in October 2021. £10 million was allocated to local authorities in the 2023/24 financial year, with a further £14 million to be allocated in 2024/25.
  • Developing an accreditation scheme for higher and further education providers that will set core standards for the support offered to care experienced students, helping increase participation and improve outcomes for this cohort. The department has previously published guidance for higher education providers on how they can ensure care leavers have the support they need to access, and succeed at, university. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/principles-to-guide-he-providers-on-improving-care-leavers-access-and-participation-in-he/principles-to-guide-higher-education-providers-on-improving-care-leavers-access-and-participation-in-he.
  • Increasing the Apprenticeships Care Leavers’ Bursary from £1,000 to £3,000, from August 2023, to provide greater financial security for care leavers choosing apprenticeships. This recognises that care leavers face higher living costs than their peers as they often live independently at a younger age and may not have a wider familial network for support.
  • Increasing funding for the care leaver covenant by 30% in 2023/24 and 2024/25 to extend its reach and impact. Over 450 organisations have now signed the covenant, including John Lewis, Amazon and Sky, offering employment and other opportunities to support care leavers’ transition to independent living.

In addition to the bursary, the department pays businesses and training providers £1,000 for every care leaver apprentice they employ or train. Employers and providers are free to use their additional funding wherever needed to support their apprentices, including contributions to travel or childcare costs, or the provision of additional mentoring.

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