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Group of course participants holding their certificates

Care to Go Higher CPD graduation

This January I was lucky enough to commence my role in Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) as Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer. Since then I’ve been immersing myself in the world of care-experienced students in Higher Education (HE) so I can understand the difficulties and challenges facing them, as well as the support that’s available to reduce the impact on their education. 

For the last few months I’ve been delivering the Care to Go Higher CPD programme. This aims to equip foster carers, children’s home workers and personal advisors with the skills they need to help care-experienced young people make informed decisions about HE. 

We hosted a graduation event on 21 July at the Quarry Hill campus of our member institution Leeds City College. We started with a tour of the facilities and then held the graduation presentation, which was attended by most of the programme attendees. There were excellent guest speakers in Jancis Andrew (Head of the Leeds Virtual School), Helen Sykes (GHWY Manager) and Mike Kerr (University of Leeds School of Medicine). Each one provided their own insight into care-experienced students in HE, which was really well received.  

During the graduation some of the participants and speakers were kind enough to share some personal stories, which were deeply moving. Being able to hear first-hand the difficulties care-experienced students and foster carers have faced has reaffirmed just how beneficial the programme is, as well as how much I want to continue making a difference.  

The graduation was the culmination of the programme, which I delivered virtually over six sessions to two separate cohorts. We covered a lot of ground including myth-busting common preconceptions of HE, what challenges care-leavers face, how to develop an aspirational mindset, and how to make HE feel within reach of care leavers. We also looked at the lifestyle of students and the opportunities it affords, how the application process works for both UCAS and student finance, and transitions from HE onwards.  

While the programme covered more subject matter than detailed above, the general framework proved valuable to the attendees. It was supplemented by guest speakers, who discussed the breadth of support and opportunities that are available for care-experienced students. Each session I’ve enjoyed interacting with the attendees and getting to know a little about their own experiences, which has allowed me to adapt some of the content to meet their needs in later sessions. 

Overall I’ve really enjoyed my experience delivering the programme. I’ve already started to use participant feedback to bank ideas of changes to be made to the next iteration to keep it relevant, informative and interactive. These lead to it being a valuable experience for the course participants as well as myself. 

 

Dominic House, GHWY Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer

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