The College has teamed up with Edinburgh’s universities, colleges and the local authority to increase the educational opportunities open to people who have spent time in care through a region-wide initiative.
The Hub for SUCCESS project, which was officially launched this week, was set up to tackle the trend of care experienced people leaving school at a young age and with few qualifications.
Figures show 73 per cent of care experienced young people will leave school at the minimum age – 16 or before – compared with 27 per cent of all school leavers, and six per cent per cent go directly from school to university compared with 41 per cent of all school leavers.
Retention rates for care experienced students at both university and college are below average, with completion rates for FE college courses for care experienced students being a particular issue; only 57.9 per cent of those studying in 2016-17 completed their qualification, compared to 73.2 per cent of those without care experience.
The Hub for SUCCESS (Support for University and College for Care Experienced in South-East Scotland) operates from the City of Edinburgh Council Customer Hub in the Royal Mile. It provides individual information and advice on education opportunities, accommodation and finance, both on a drop-in basis and by making home/campus visits.
It has already helped 28 care experienced people, providing impartial, up-to-date advice on the best pathways to their education with a specific aim of increasing retention. It will work in partnership with city schools to develop targeted projects to raise the expectations and awareness of primary school children who are care experienced. The Hub aims to work with care experienced people of all ages.
The Hub’s core partners are Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Queen Margaret University the Open University in Scotland, Edinburgh College, Newbattle Abbey College and City of Edinburgh Council, and the project has been developed in consultation with Who Cares? Scotland, Princes Trust and surrounding local authorities with the aim of identifying people who would benefit from support and encouragement to fulfil their potential.
Dr Joe Morrow, the current Lord Lyon King of Arms, chairs an advisory board made up of the central partners, and Edinburgh Napier University recruits and manages the Hub staff.
The launch of the Hub for SUCCESS at Edinburgh’s Grassmarket Community Project included a panel discussion in which care experienced people share their educational journeys.
Edinburgh College’s head of Student Experience Monica Hoenigmann said: “We will work closely with the Hub for SUCCESS to provide support to care experienced students. It will help to give people the confidence to apply for courses and address any barriers, to help give them the best start to further and higher education.
” At Edinburgh College we are committed to improving outcomes for our care experienced students and the Hub for SUCCESS partnership will help us do this.”
Joe Morrow, who hosted the launch event, said: “The HUB for SUCCESS is an innovative partnership approach which celebrates and supports the potential and achievements of care experienced learners. The challenges many of them experience seem insurmountable. This work is about creating opportunities and freeing potential.”
Advisory board member Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “As a sector, we need to do more to help people from care experienced backgrounds into further and higher education, while they are at college and university and once they graduate.
“We can achieve much more through working together as corporate parents, and I am delighted that all Edinburgh’s universities and colleges along with the council have not just committed to do but are actively doing so.”
Hub manager Lorraine Moore said: “Our feedback suggests the one-to-one support we offer has been hugely valued, by our younger care experienced learners and especially by people who have been out of school for some time.
“The Hub will help develop support networks for students prior to starting their course, as well as offering an informal environment where they can bring their concerns as they go through university or college.”
The initial costs of the project have been met by Edinburgh Napier, the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, with the Scottish Children’s Lottery providing an additional £35,000 through its Chance to Study programme.
The Hub can be contacted via: hubforsuccess.org