Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Improving provision for care leavers - education, employment and wellbeing, key policy commitments, and support through the pandemic and into the future

Morning, Wednesday, 24th February 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining priorities and next steps for improving support for care leavers.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfE; Ofsted; DWP; HMPPS; and DCMS.

The discussion at a glance:

  • local offers for care leavers - implementation by local authorities
  • the Care Leavers Covenant and the new Social Value Toolkit - next steps
  • COVID-19 - the impact on mental health and future prospects for care leavers
  • support - funding, and local authority services for care leavers, in a challenging economy

Context and key issues at a glance:

  • COVID-19 - government funding and initiatives to aid young people in the wake of the pandemic, targeting support for vulnerable children, remote study, and those at risk of homelessness
  • Local offers - publication by each local authority for young people leaving care, which include personal advisors up until the age of 25
  • Employment concerns - the impact of the pandemic and economic downturn on young people and disadvantaged groups, access to career guidance, and continuity of apprenticeships
  • Higher education - DfE’s Principles to guide HE providers on improving care leavers access and participation, looking at support before entering HE, and financial and accommodation help networks
  • Mental health - Barnardo’s research showing worsening mental health in children and young people during the lockdown, and rises in isolation and self-harm
  • Long-term wellbeing - UCL research finding long term impact on health suffered by those who have grown up in care
  • Matching in foster care: making good decisions for children in care and care leavers - recently published Ofsted report highlighting the importance of placing children with the right foster families, and the effect on children’s future outcomes, and focusing on priorities children and those fostering them as well as relationship

The discussion in detail:

  • COVID-19 - assessing the impact on care leavers, and ensuring support moving forward:
    • effectiveness - assessing government measures aiming to aid vulnerable young people and key lessons that can be learnt
    • policy priorities - for supporting care leavers, and local authorities caring for them, in adapting to the new normal and recovering from the effects of the pandemic
  • the Care Leavers Covenant - assessing progress, and the future role of the Social Value Toolkit:
    • implementation - of a joined-up network of support for care leavers, since:
      • launch of the Care Leaver Covenant, which set out to support care leavers aged 16-25 into independent living and improve their outcomes
      • the DfE’s Keep on Caring strategy was put in place
    • encouraging take-up - raising young people’s awareness of opportunities offered by the Covenant, backed by employers, charities and central government, in key areas including:
      • preparation - for living independently, achieving financial stability and having improved access to employment, training and education
      • wellbeing - feeling safe, secure and stable in their lives with access to health support that they need
    • the Social Value Toolkit - examining next steps for whole- council approaches, and incorporating social value objectives into procurement to secure core outcomes of the Covenant through:
      • engagement - putting care leavers at the centre of their procurement processes
      • coordination - creating a Whole Council Forum for taking forward the aims of the Covenant and supporting an integrated response
  • local offers:
    • implementation - current local authority provision, developing best practice models, and implementation across different areas, including:
      • joining up - development of whole local authority approaches which include each area of the council
      • funding - the financial impact on local authorities
      • improving provision - steps being taken by local authorities, such as through the Innovation Fund
    • partnerships - developing effective and coordinated working relationships with education providers, health and housing services and charities to create a platform for young people leaving care
  • progression - supporting care leavers into employment and higher education post-pandemic
    • progress and priorities - examining measures put in place so far, how to provide effective and relevant careers advice for those leaving care - and key priorities moving forward
    • support - the effectiveness of measures such as the ESFA apprenticeships bursary for care leavers, which aims to remove barriers to accessing apprenticeships
    • attainment gap - amid concerns that this will widen due to COVID-19
    • further options - possible additional measures to be taken to support care leavers into employment, with recent figures showing that as many as 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared to 13% of this age group overall
    • internships - progress in the Government’s aim of providing 1,000 one-year paid internships for care leave by March 2022, including as part of the Care Leaver Internship Scheme
    • further and higher education providers - the role they can play in supporting care leavers, and in improving HE access and participation

The agenda:

  • Improving provision for care leavers - key policy priorities
  • The experience of supporting care leavers through COVID-19 and lessons learned - maintaining contact, access to technology, the impact of emergency legislation, and future prospects
  • Implementing key measures for supporting young people leaving care
    • What next for the Care Leaver Covenant?
    • Social Value Toolkit - developing a ‘whole-council approach’ to secure the core outcomes of the Care Leavers Covenant
    • Implementing local offers and developing effective multi-agency partnerships
  • Improving outcomes for care leavers - transition to further and higher education, entering the job market post-COVID-19, and ensuring support until 25
  • Inspecting the standard of support for care leavers

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; Ofsted; DWP; HMPPS; and DCMS.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy from DfE, Ofsted, Ofqual and other government departments and agencies, schools and teaching professionals, local government and community stakeholders, health and social care bodies and professionals, charity and advocacy groups, groups representing parents and students, academics and commentators, legal and financial experts, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Mark Riddell

National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education

Mark Rogers

Chair, Care Leavers Covenant Advisory Board; and Director General - Children, Young People, Education and Skills, The States of Jersey

Keynote Speakers

Mark Riddell

National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education

Matthew Brazier

Specialist Advisor for Looked After Children, Ofsted

Mark Rogers

Chair, Care Leavers Covenant Advisory Board; and Director General - Children, Young People, Education and Skills, The States of Jersey


Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability

Steve McCabe MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers


Rebecca Rees

Procurement Partner, Trowers & Hamlins LLP and Co-Author, HACT Social Value Toolkit

Maria Tottle

Contact for Care Leavers and Estranged Students, Mature Students’ and Peer Support Advisor, University of Bristol

Cllr Jemima Laing

Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, Plymouth City Council

Claire Preston

Social Value Manager, Places & Communities, ENGIE

Patricia Ambrose

Director, National Network for the Education of Care Leavers

Dr Katie Ellis

Research Fellow, University of Sheffield

Victoria Pogge von Strandmann

Partner, Public Law, Simpson Millar

Amber Orsborn-Smith

Curriculum and Innovation Manager, Nacro

Penny Earney

Designated Nurse for Looked After Children, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group

Beaulah Chizimba

Designated Nurse Lead, Children in Care, West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and Ipswich & East