Your education and training as a care leaver

Thinking about education

We will help you to reach your goals and fulfil your potential by helping you to access higher and further education and work opportunities. Part of your Pathway Plan is all about what you want to do in the future and whether you want to go to college, university or complete an apprenticeship. You will have a chance to talk it all through with your Personal Adviser (PA). Personal Education Plan's (PEP) will also continue in the academic year you turn 18 and beyond this if you would like them too.

If you want your PA to support with finding education, please ask. Before you meet your PA to discuss, 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?

You will be able to find out lots of information about college or university online including entry requirements, open days, student life and much more. You will also be able to find apprenticeship vacancies and opportunities.

You can 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. 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 Gov.uk.

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.

Going to university

If you are interested in going to university but not sure where to start, take a look at The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) 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.

Some 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.

What about an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships allow you to earn a salary whilst studying for a nationally recognised qualification and getting 'on the job' training. It's a way to gain experience, strengthen your CV and build your career. There is a wide range of apprenticeships available to suit every skill and passion and the training provider will offer support for any additional needs. It's a different way of learning compared to college or university, and you could learn skills that will be valued by potential employers.

Apprenticeships range from intermediate level (equivalent to GCSE level) right up to degree level and are available in a wide range of different industries. If you're not quite ready for an apprenticeship, then you might be interested in a traineeship. The Care Leavers' Service (CLS) will pay for your travel to work for the duration of your Apprenticeship.

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

Can I get any help with money towards my education?

Yes, but how much depends on your age and situation. You can find some of the financial support available to you here, and you can also talk to your social worker or PA who will be able to help you find out exactly what you are entitled to.

Most young people in higher education are not entitled to welfare benefits. However, in some circumstances, you may be entitled to UC or other benefits. Some of these circumstances might include lone parents, young people with long term illnesses, or those with a registered disability – they may be eligible for additional benefits support whilst studying. Talk to your PA if you think you may qualify for help.

What's the Surrey 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.