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)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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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

Online Conference

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

This conference examines policy priorities and next steps for improving support for care leavers.

It follows the Secretary of State for Education setting up a Ministerial Taskforce to address challenges faced by young people leaving care as they start their independent adult lives, with a focus on:

  • accommodation
  • continuing education, training or the move to employment
  • access to healthcare, including mental health support

We are pleased to include as keynote contributors: Mark Riddell, National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education; Matthew Brazier, Specialist Advisor for Looked After Children, Ofsted; Matthew Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Spectra First and Rebecca Rees, Procurement Partner, Trowers & Hamlins LLP and Co-Author, HACT Social Value Toolkit.

Bringing together further key stakeholders with policymakers, areas for discussion include:

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

Why this is relevant now - the context:

It takes place with:

Key areas for discussion:

Experience of COVID-19 amongst care leavers and ensuring support moving forward

  • the effectiveness of 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
  • mental health and wellbeing for care leavers, with recent research showing worsening mental health in children and young people during the lockdown, and rises in isolation and self-harm

The Care Leavers Covenant and the future role of the Social Value Toolkit

  • implementation of a joined-up network of support for care leavers, looking at the state of progress:
    • two years since the launch of the Care Leaver Covenant, which set out to support care leavers aged 16-25 into independent living and improve their outcomes
    • four years since the DfE’s Keep on Caring strategy was put in place
  • raising young people’s awareness and take up of opportunities offered by the Covenant, backed by employers, charities and all central government departments, in key areas it addresses including:
    • preparation for living independently, achieving financial stability and having improved access to employment, training and education
    • feeling safe, secure and stable in their lives with access to health support that they need
  • the role of the new Social Value Toolkit, which aims to support local authorities in adopting a whole council approach and to incorporate social value objectives into their procurement processes to secure the core outcomes of the Covenant through:
    • putting care leavers at the centre of their procurement processes
    • creating a Whole Council Forum for taking forward the aims of the Covenant and supporting an integrated response

The implementation of local offers by local authorities

  • current local authority provision, developing best practice models, and implementation across different areas, including:
    • the development of a joined up and whole local authority approach which includes each area of the council
    • the financial impact on local authorities
    • steps being taken by local authorities to improve their provision, such as through the Innovation Fund
  • how local authorities can develop effective and coordinated partnerships with education providers, health and housing services and charities to create a platform for young people leaving care

Supporting care leavers into employment and higher education post-pandemic

  • examining measures put in place so far, how to provide effective and relevant careers advice for those leaving care as well as key priorities moving forward
  • the effectiveness of support measures such as the £1,000 apprenticeships bursary for care leavers, which aims to remove barriers from care leavers in accessing apprenticeships
  • possible additional measures to be taken to support care leavers into employment
  • progress in the Government’s aim of providing 1,000 one-year paid internships for care leave by March 2022
  • the role that further and higher education providers 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
  • Providing effective and relevant careers advice for those leaving care
  • 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.

This conference seems no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education and the DWP.

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
  • networking 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

Matthew Gordon

Chief Executive Officer, Spectra

Keynote Speakers

Mark Riddell

National Implementation Advisor for Care Leavers, Department for Education

Matthew Gordon

Chief Executive Officer, Spectra

Matthew Brazier

Specialist Advisor for Looked After Children, Ofsted


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

Senior speaker confirmed from the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers

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