Quality Mark First for College

Stoke-on-Trent College has been awarded the Quality Mark for Care Leavers for the efforts it makes to support students from care backgrounds.

The award from charity Buttle UK, follows months of work by the college, which has included forming partnerships with Stoke-on-Trent Council and other Post 16 providers, as well as extra training for key staff.

Careers co-ordinator Jane Dunning, who helped put together the award application, said: “Last Academic Year 2011-12 we assisted 46 young people who were in care or leaving care. All these learners were given extra support to remove any barriers that they were experiencing.

“One of the main things we have implemented was to designate a contact person for people in care, and we have signed a partnership agreement with Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority and the Careers Service to deliver a package of multiagency support.

“As part of the agreement we are also setting up meetings with Social Care so that we are aware of students coming to us who have a care worker or are in foster care, so we can address any needs they may have. It may be very little, such as helping to provide equipment or materials for a particular course, but in some cases they may have specific needs, so this way we can ensure everything is put in place for them.

Buttle UK’s Quality Mark recognises Higher Education and Further Education institutions who are working to better support care leaver students across the UK. The Quality Mark for the Further Education sector was launched in January 2012 following a successful pilot project.

Susan Mueller, Quality Mark Manager for Buttle, said: “Stoke on Trent College is one of the first FE colleges in England to achieve the Buttle UK Quality Mark since the award was launched for the further education sector earlier this year.

“The College demonstrated it has a clear strategy which prioritises support for these particularly vulnerable students. They have shown they are active in identifying any gaps in their support, with some excellent new initiatives in the pipeline – such as activities over the Summer period to help raise self-confidence and self-esteem.

“It is with work like this that we will see a real and lasting difference made to opportunities and attainment of young people from the care system in the years to come.”

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