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Your education and training as a care leaver

We will help you to reach your goals and fulfil your potential with accessing higher and further education and work opportunities.

If you want to go to college/university/do some training, but not sure where to start, can you help?

Yes. Part of your pathway plan is all about what you want to do in the future and whether you want to go to college or university, so you will have a chance to talk it all through with your social worker or personal assistant (PA).

To get ready for your meeting ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a specific career in mind?
  • What subjects have you studied at school or college?
  • Do you have a passion for something?
  • Have you had a careers appointment to talk through your ideas?


Take a look at your local further education college websites to get a good idea of the courses they offer. For local universities or colleges visit

You will be able to find out online lots of information around entry requirements, open days, student life and much more. You can also arrange an advice and guidance session with a student adviser who can help you choose the right course for you based on your current qualifications and career aspirations.

If you don't have any qualifications, don't worry, there will still be some courses you can apply for.

Your PA can help you with application forms and interview tips.

Most college courses start in September but there may be some which start in January. You will need to contact the colleges to find out more.


If you are interested in going to university but not sure where to start, take a look at The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service website which has all the up to date information around courses and financial support as well as advice and guidance around what other options are available such as a gap year, apprenticeship and employment pathways.

The UCAS website is also where you will make your university application.

Universities offer care leavers the opportunity to gain a place on a chosen study programme, even if you don't have the required qualifications. You will need to speak directly with each university to get more information on the options available.

Have you thought about doing an apprenticeship?

They allow you to combine paid work and study by mixing on-the-job training with classroom learning. Have a look at the apprenticeships guide to get a clear understanding of what they involve, how much you'll earn and to set up an account to make your applications.

Surrey offers specific apprenticeships just to care leavers, ask your social worker or PA for more information.

If you're not quite ready for an apprenticeship, then you might be interested in a traineeship. This is a course with work experience which can last up to six months and will help develop the skills needed for a full time apprenticeship programme.

A factsheet has been developed by the Become website about getting into high education.

What do you need to do?

Have a look at the Propel website where you can search for the support on offer to care-experienced students applying for higher education courses at UK colleges and universities. Some colleges/universities offer a lot and some not as much so it's worth considering this when you are looking at different courses.

Can you get any money to help with your education?

Yes, but how much depends on your age and situation. Talk to your social worker or PA to find out exactly what you are entitled to.


If you are in full time education and under 19 years of age when you begin a college course, you can apply for a bursary of up to £1,200 per year. This will be paid into your bank account at different intervals throughout the academic (September to July) year.

Colleges also have other funding available if you need some financial help. Talk to them directly to find out exactly what they can offer.


You can apply for both a Tuition Fee Loan and a Maintenance Loan to support you at university. A Tuition Fee Loan covers the cost of the course and a Maintenance Loan covers daily living costs including rent. Both are loans and need to be paid back once you have completed the course and are earning at least £21,000 per year. For the most up to date information and to apply for the loans, visit the GOV.UK website.

Other financial help may be available direct from the university once you have enrolled, which will not need to be paid back. Talk to them about this.

Our Care Leavers' Service offers some financial support to help with higher education costs:

  • A weekly living allowance at the rate of half the single person's job seekers allowance.
  • Accommodation during the holidays
  • A 'setting up home allowance' as required. Items such as bedding, a laptop and a television can usually be bought from this allowance. The remainder of the money can be claimed on completion of your course.
  • A £2,000 bursary to cover the length of your course. This is paid in instalments of £250 at the end of each term (£750 per academic year). In the final year you will receive two instalments. If your studies continue for four years or more, then you will need to discuss the payments with your personal advisor.

Most young people in higher education are not entitled to welfare benefits. However in particular circumstances, some may be entitled to Income Support and Housing Benefit. For example lone parents, young people with long term illnesses, or those with a registered disability – may be eligible for benefits whilst studying. Talk to your PA if you think you may qualify for help.

What's the virtual school?

Surrey Virtual School is not an actual place, it is a way of a way of bringing together the information about children and young people who are cared for by Surrey local authority as if they were in a single school. They are responsible for supporting the educational progress and achievement of looked after children and young people until the end of Year 13.