Children aged between six and 16 took part in the fun day with their foster families, joining in with arts and crafts before taking a tour of the Leeds Beckett state-of-the-art music studios and recording Christmas carols with the Beckett Choir. The families were then able to take home CDs of their performances to keep.
Will Atkinson, Collaborative Outreach Coordinator at Leeds Beckett (pictured above with Beckett Choir and student ambassadors, fourth from right), explained: “After the success of our Foster Family Fun Days over the last two years, we invited more foster families onto campus in the run-up to Christmas to help care-experienced young people to become more familiar with universities.
“Care leavers are severely under-represented in higher education, with only six per cent of care leavers progressing to higher education, compared to around one-third of all 19 year olds in the UK (source here). Leeds Beckett has a long-standing commitment to recognising and removing barriers that care-experienced young people face in their journey towards higher education.”
Lucy Price, a final year BA (Hons) Sociology student and Student Ambassador at the fun day, has experience of being in care. She said: “These type of events let the children and young people get the feel of university. It gives them a taste of what life at Leeds Beckett could be like for them in the future. Exposure to universities is important as it plants the seed of university and further education into the child or young person’s mind from an early age. They will remember the really fun event or open day and that will shape how they think about uni. It is also important for the looked after children to see how previously fostered children have gone on to succeed.”
One of the young people attending the fun day said: “It was fantastic coming to the University. My favourite part was being assistant sound engineer and pressing the buttons. It was really great to have an end product. I’d like to go to university in the future so I can press all the music buttons when I’m older!”
Aaliyah Hussain, who also took part, said: “I liked the singing and getting to hear my voice back after. I would love to go to university when I’m older.”
Will added: “We have found that it is important to introduce young children to the concept of university from a young age if they are to see a future for themselves at university, and to work with foster parents to give them appropriate knowledge of the contemporary higher education landscape. The Foster Family Fun Days also show the young people the breadth of courses, such as music production and music technology, that are on offer at universities, rather than just continuing subjects they study at school, and that universities are welcoming places where they can belong in the future.”
Carrie Braithwaite: http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/news/1216-yorkshire-foster-families-get-festive-at-leeds-beckett/