Social Responsibility


Tue, 29 Mar 2016 12:11:00 BST

In the UK there are approximately 65,000 looked after children, the majority of whom will have experienced significant emotional trauma and disruption to both home and educational life.

Unsurprisingly, academic achievement is generally much lower for this group of young learners, a trend that starts in the early years of education and continues throughout their lives. Consequently, only 7 per cent of looked after children enter higher education at the age of 18, compared to approximately 40 per cent of young people nationally.

Looked after children often need additional support due to the absence of a family system, an area that is often combined with provision for all disadvantaged young people. Any specific advice and support that universities can provide on all aspects of student life will therefore be of benefit to these young learners.

Initiated and delivered by the University of Manchester’s Widening Participation Team, Success4Life is a widening participation programme with a difference: whilst the theme of higher education runs through the project, there is a particular focus on the transferable lifelong skills attendees develop and the way in which these will help the young learners throughout their education and careers more broadly. The programme seeks to develop positive self-image, confidence and teamwork skills, through a range of varied group work activities and themed sessions. Launched in 2012, Success4Life is a unique on-going skill and aspiration-based ten week programme targeting High School pupils in local authority care. To date, approximately 80 pupils have taken part from years 7-11.

The programme is designed to work with a very small group of targeted learners, on a very intense scale (two staff members for every one learner). Pupils are nominated to take part in the programme, either by their designated teacher in school, or by their social worker. Project evaluation has indicated that attendees have an increased desire to stay in education after the age of 16 following GCSE exams (93 per cent), an increased intention to apply to university (97 per cent) as well as a greater awareness of university courses and options available to them (63 per cent).

The extremely positive feedback about this programme suggests that the space and time provided by Success4Life provides these young people, who often face stereotyping and/or stigma of being a looked after child at home or at school, the chance to feel successful at something.

A longer article about Success4life is available to download. For further information please contact Emma Lewis.

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