Secretary of State for Education visits University of Winchester in National Care Leavers Week

26 Oct 2018
Man in suit and woman in pink dress stand at entrance to University

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds visited the University of Winchester this week to see its leading work in improving access to higher education for care leavers.

The visit came in National Care Leavers Week and as the government announced a new Care Leaver Covenant, which commits to providing work based opportunities to young people leaving the care system, helping them gain vital skills and experiences as they enter the jobs market.

A small group of Winchester students who come from care backgrounds met the Education Secretary to talk about the unique challenges care leavers face and how support from the University has been vital in helping them succeed in their studies.

Professor Joy Carter CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said: "We were delighted to show the Education Secretary our pioneering initiatives to encourage and support more care leavers into higher education. We have introduced initiatives like our King Alfred Scheme, offering tailored support for students from a background in care, including a financial support package, a designated welfare adviser and accommodation and support throughout University holidays."

Damian Hinds said: "Starting at university can be difficult for any new student, but those leaving care face unique challenges - this shouldn't be a barrier to having the same experiences as any other young person.

"I'm hugely impressed by what I've seen at the University of Winchester, who prove just how achievable it is for universities to make a tangible difference in levelling the playing field for under-represented groups."

In 2006, the University of Winchester signed a Compact Agreement with Hampshire Children's Services to encourage more young people leaving care to progress to University. The Agreement gives care leaver applicants additional credit for achievement in areas of experience other than the ones measured through usual examinations. This recognises the fact that many young people in the care system experience disruption to their education through no fault of their own, and that as a result their educational qualifications may not fully reflect their potential to succeed at university.

Damian Hinds with teaching students

During the visit Damian Hinds also met trainee primary teachers who are studying on the Initial Teacher Training programme. The University of Winchester is a leading provider for teacher education in the UK and earlier this year was re-awarded outstanding by Ofsted. The University has partnerships with over 800 schools and was approved as an academy sponsor in 2014, setting up the University of Winchester Academy Trust.

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