Westminster Education Forum

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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

March 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference is examining priorities and next steps for improving support for care leavers.

Areas for discussion include:

  • priorities for the Independent review of children’s social care - recently announced by the Government, and with a call for advice by the review’s lead, Josh MacAlister, founder of Frontline
  • 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

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DfE; Ofsted; DWP; the Ministry of Justice; NPS; and DCMS.

Context and key issues:

  • Independent review of children’s social care - the recent launch of a DfE review which will include a focus on improving outcomes for care leavers
  • 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 higher education providers on improving care leavers access and participation - on support before entering HE, as well as financial and accommodation help networks
    • Post-qualification admissions in higher education: proposed changes - the DfE consultation on a potential post-qualifications admissions system, including the impact on care leavers
  • Generation lockdown - Barnardo’s research showing worsening mental health in children and young people during the lockdown, and increased cases of isolation and self-harm
  • Children in care “suffer poor health for decades” - 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, as well as focusing on the priorities of the children and those fostering them as well as relationship

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
  • 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

Areas for discussion:

  • 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 - assessing 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 - assessing how effective existing measures are, 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 leavers 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

Policy officials attending:

Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and officials from the Department for Education; Ofsted; the Cabinet Office; the DWP; the Ministry of Justice; the National Probation Service; and the DCMS. Also due to attend are representatives from 18+ Care Leaver Service; affinity2020.com; Barnardo's; Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council; Bracknell Forest Council; Bradford Children's Social Care; Break; Bristol City Council; Cambridge & Ely Child Contact Centres; Cambridgeshire County Council; Cameron & Cooper; Caramel Rock; Cardiff University; Career Matters; Carer; Cumbria Virtual School Team; Devon County Council; Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group; Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust; Durham County Council; First Star Scholars UK; GLA; Health Education England; Leadership Through Sport and Business; Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust; Leicestershire Virtual School; London Borough of Hillingdon; London Borough of Hounslow; London Borough of Sutton; Make Happen; Middlesex University; Milton Keynes Council; Ministry of Justice; National Children's Bureau; National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP); Norfolk County Council; Norman Galloway Homes; RBKC Virtual School; The Cornerstones Foundation; The Huddersfield Town Foundation; The Mighty Creatives; The University of Law; UCW (Weston College); University of East Anglia; University of Lincoln; University of Nottingham; University of Sheffield; University of Southampton; University of York; Wandsworth Virtual School; Warwickshire County Council; Wokingham Borough Council and York Cares..

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles