E-learning pilot for care experienced and estranged students: behind the scenes view 

While e-learning and pilot both contain the letter ‘I’, there is no I in team (as the saying goes). This article provides insight into the teamwork required at Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) to successfully launch an e-learning pilot programme for Care Experienced and Estranged Students. Although I led on the e-learning, I certainly cannot take all the credit for it!

To begin, I want to outline the need for this e-learning for Higher Education (HE) staff. If you are familiar with GHWY’s work in this area, you may know that we have a flagship Care to Go Higher Programme for Care Professionals; this provides insight into the HE environment, so participants are better informed about the HE experience and its value. But then you have staff in HE who are familiar with the HE environment but, unlike Care Professionals, will often possess little knowledge regarding the experiences of Care Experienced and Estranged Students.

Enter our e-learning pilot programme. Launched in April 2022, Understanding and Supporting Care Experienced and Estranged Students aims to improve understanding of and empathy for these students among HE staff. Thanks to the support of key contacts, this is being piloted with around 30 HE staff from Leeds Beckett and University Centre Leeds. It feels strange to develop something and not see people complete it live, but then that is the nature of e-learning.

There are specific and generic long term aims for the e-learning. In terms of specific aims, it is anticipated it will be rolled out across GHWY in 2022/23 and updated/reviewed annually. The programme broadly covers: key definitions; the challenges these students face; and support from HE institutions. Thus, the generic long term aim is to create similar e-learning for other Under-Represented Groups. More broadly, the e-learning aims to complement our existing work of the Care Leaver Covenant, Stand Alone Pledge and Under-Represented Groups to better support Care Experienced and Estranged Students in HE.

It is never easy to build on existing work, and in the case of the e-learning, take it to completion. My predecessor did a lot of the hard work to develop content for the e-learning. The Care to Go Higher Delivery Officer and I had not been in our roles that long when we took this on. We met with a contact at the University of Huddersfield (a GHWY member) who had a similar idea to develop some training for HE staff to help them better understand the experiences of Care Experienced Students. These meetings provided reassurance that we were on the right lines.

We worked closely with the GHWY Project Officer (Digital Comms and Marketing) on the Care Experienced and Estranged Students e-learning pilot. There were slides/structure to refine, quizzes to write and evaluation to consider. In short, a lot of meetings and emails! The end result is an e-learning with some interactive elements, which is estimated to take around two hours. I hope the learners get as much out of the e-learning pilot as we did from developing it.


Tahera Mayat, Collaborative Outreach Officer, GHWY