Working with virtual schools and local authorities


On Tuesday 17th October, AccessHE was delighted to welcome representatives from nine different HEIs and virtual school staff from six different London local authorities to a meeting of our Care Experienced and Estranged Students forum.

The Leaving Care Service at Lewisham Council, regular attendees of the forum, were kind enough to host the meeting for us in Lewisham. This really set the scene for an interesting and useful discussion of how universities, local authorities and their virtual schools can work together more closely to support care experienced students to, through and beyond higher education. Feedback from our member HEIs had suggested practitioners were eager to understand more about the role of virtual schools and explore new areas for collaboration, and so we were delighted to see such a fantastic turnout from across London.

The meeting began with a presentation from Melanie Aarons-Royal, Senior Careers Adviser at the Lewisham Leaving Care Service, and Bronagh Maginn, Assistant Head and KS5 Stage Leader at Lewisham Virtual School. Forum members had a chance to ask questions and discuss issues and concerns, including the value of work experience and careers guidance, accommodation and other financial support such as graduation packages, early university visits and involving care-experienced student ambassadors in events. Following the meeting, we’ll be looking at what we can do to follow up on some of the key issues raised for this group of learners.

We were also delighted to welcome representatives from the Student Loans Company, Become, NNECL and the Drive Forward Foundation to the meeting. AccessHE will be continuing to work with our members, local authorities and key supporting organisations to deliver initiatives and events such as the Life After University event for care-experienced and estranged students currently studying at university.

If you’d like to get involved with the work of the AccessHE Care Experienced and Estranged Students forum, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sam Turner, London Programmes Coordinator, at sam.turner@londonhigher.ac.uk.