Unlocking the path to HE: Empowering care-experienced learners

Wakefield College recently held a series of workshops that identified and addressed challenges that care leavers / care-experienced learners can face as they navigate their post-college options. 

The three workshops, which were delivered by Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY), were tailored specifically for those without family support and focused particularly on the journey to Higher Education (HE). 

The sessions offered an introduction to HE, the personal journey to HE, and student finance. Collaboratively delivered by myself and the College’s Careers Team, they aimed to equip students with the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their future. They were designed to be fun and engaging, with a HE quiz that blended informative content with enjoyable activities. Winners of the quiz received vouchers for Rassam’s, a local student hotspot in Wakefield. 

The finance workshop was delivered in collaboration with Leeds Trinity University’s Money Advice Team and Outreach Team. It included information about how to apply for bursaries or hardship funds, year-long accommodation options, part-time job opportunities, and tailored support specifically designed for care-experienced learners. This personalised support includes contextual admissions, which is when a person’s individual circumstances are taken into account when a HE provider considers their application.   

Reflecting on the event, our partners expressed delight in engaging with the students, discussing their current financial situations, and exchanging thoughts on budgeting. The students were equally enthusiastic. One said: “The workshop has helped me understand more about university and the support available when I decide to pursue higher education.”  

Students who attended the workshops also emphasised the freedom to choose between university and apprenticeships, empowering them to envision their next steps in life. 

I noted a substantial shift in student engagement and mindset following each session. In the first session, most students answered questions with “I don’t know” or “not sure, I haven’t really thought about it”. After the second session, we had a few students ask about how student finance works, which suggests a change in mindset. While the student will make their decisions in their own time, it was encouraging to see they were getting more engaged with the workshops. 

Our journey to support care-experienced learners on their path to HE is ongoing. Each workshop was a step forward in breaking down barriers, providing vital information, and empowering students to shape their futures with confidence and clarity. 


Muzi Moyo, GHWY Progression Officer, Wakefield College