Statistics show that Care Leavers are more likely to go to prison than university.  In 2004, researchers at the London’s Institute of Education showed that only 1% of students had been in care. Of the 11 thousand young people leaving care each year, only 60 were progressing to University. The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 required local authorities to pay a bursary to care leavers who undertake a course of higher education. Whilst there has been some improvement, care leavers remain the least likely group in society to go to university.

The project aimed to identify strategies that can be implemented by Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) and its partners to increase the number of Brighton and Hove care leavers attending and remaining at university for the duration of their course. The project will therefore inform practice with Children in Care (years 9-12) and Care Leavers (years 12-13) up to the age of 19.

The care leavers who were interviewed had the opportunity to have their voice heard and for their experiences to inform better practice within the leaving care team. They have the opportunity to have their achievements recognised and affirmed and for their experiences to be validated and to shape future practice.

The project has enabled learning from other local authorities such as what strategies they use to increase the number of care leavers attending university; this information will shape practice and procedures in Brighton and Hove. Valuable insights were gained from our care leavers about the support we need to offer to assist them to achieve good educational outcomes. The research undertaken and being undertaken helped gain new understandings about the factors which need to be in place to support care leavers going to and remaining at university for the duration of their course.

There are now plans to produce reports that can be presented to Brighton and Hove Council’s Corporate Parenting Board as well as to national organisations such as the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum. Learning from the research will be shared with leaving care team workers to enable best practice to be implemented.

Programme Partners: University of Brighton, The Bridge, Brighton & Hove City Council

For further information please email our Innovation Fund Project Manager, Debra Vice-Holt