Turning the curve on care experienced student retention 

An online event to understand and address the care experienced student retention gap, with consideration to the Covid-19 context, was attended by colleagues from local authorities and higher education (HE) members from across Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY). 

‘Turning the curve on care experienced student retention, which was held in the run up to National Care Leavers’ Week 2020, included a keynote introduction from Dr Neil Harrison. Neil is a leading researcher into the education of children and young people from care backgrounds and, focusing on the transition stage, presented insights from several of his reports, including his 2017 ‘Moving on up’ report for NNECL. 

The cross-sector event, organised by GHWY in partnership with Leeds City Council, also featured a talk by Dr Zoe Baker, who shared qualitative context and insights from the ‘Positive Impact’ report by the Unite Foundation (which she co-authored), and a first-hand account of coming close to dropping out of HE from a Leeds care experienced student.  

In addition delegates took part in an Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) ‘talk to action’ session, led by Jancis Andrew from Leeds City Council. OBA group discussions considered what currently works, whether there is a data development need, and what more could be done to support students to stay on course.   

GHWY is currently working on a series of recommendations arising from the session, which will support colleagues to develop and refine policy and practice in their context, as well as at a collaborative level. 

This was the second cross-sector network event to be held in the interests of supporting care experienced young people and their progression to HE. The first one, held in December 2019, was convened in response to appetite from both sectors to develop closer relationships and shared objectives in the region. The ‘Beyond Care’ network was subsequently formed in order to sustain this collaboration.   

If you would like to join the network and be informed about future events and opportunities, please contact Natalie Aldridge at n.aldridge@leeds.ac.uk 

Read more and explore GHWY’s care leaver resources.