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Leaving care: Education, training and employment

How we help care leavers equip themselves for the future.

1 Overview

We are keen to see you achieve all you can through education, as it provides the foundations for finding a higher-skilled job. Education helps build your overall knowledge, teaches you new skills and lets you meet other like-minded people.

You don’t have to be academic and getting good exam results to get something out of education. There are more than enough vocational courses available too. So, whether you want to be a particle physicist or a construction worker, we’re right behind you and we’ll do our best to see you achieve your goal.

As always, your personal advisor (PA) will be your main supporter in finding a course of education or training, or indeed being there to advise you if you’re already doing it.

They can:

  • signpost you to education and training opportunities that match your interests
  • help plan your route from education to employment
  • help you with applications for further or higher education
  • attend parents’ evenings and college/university open days with you
  • liaise with college/university tutors.

Don’t forget, we also offer £500 to every care leaver towards their employment, training or education. So, if you need a new suit for an interview, a uniform for training or specific course materials, please speak to your PA.

If you are aged 16-18

If you’re 16, 17 or 18 you can expect to have a personal education plan (PEP). A PEP is a good opportunity for your PA and college tutor (or sixth form tutor) to meet to discuss and review your academic progress and identify any other form of support you’d like, or are entitled to.

Your attendance and progress will also be tracked and monitored through the virtual school. This enables us to intervene and advocate when required.

2 Virtual school

Like many other local authorities, we have a 'virtual school' in our education department.

This is a small team of people who ensure you get all the help you want to make informed decisions about what you want to do next in education. To do this they will consider your aspirations, skills and potential.

They also make sure there are termly personal education plan (PEP) review meetings until you turn 18. However, the virtual school encourages schools and colleges to continue these review meetings until the end of Year 13.

If you are in Year 13 and still have a PEP, there may be discretionary funding available to help with application costs and so on for university.

The team’s experienced education advisors will support you to find up-to-date information about careers, jobs, education courses, volunteering and training opportunities. You’ll never be short of help!

3 University and bursaries

For higher education, there is a £2,000 bursary which the Leaving Care Service will fund. For full-time further education, the college will provide a £1,200 bursary for those aged 16 - 19 years old.

Your personal advisor (PA) can provide more information about bursaries.

If you wish to take a course at university, we can support and advise you on what might be the right course for you given your talents and interests.

Your PA will offer to attend any open days with you, and we will fund your travel costs.

We can also support with the following:

  • Travel costs at the start and end of term.
  • Making sure you have somewhere to live during the holidays, which we will pay for (Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays).
  • Advising how to obtain tuition fees and maintenance loans.
  • Advising you and helping you to apply for any bursaries or discretionary funds which can be accessed through the university to aid you in your studies. All universities have student unions which will support you with any questions you may have and ensure you are accessing the support that is available for you. We will advise you of other funding opportunities such as the UNITE foundation who provide scholarships for care leavers completing courses with partner universities.
  • The costs of attending your graduation day, including your travel, tickets, cost of your gown, photographs and mortar.

4 Local education support

West Sussex is brimming with education opportunities and it would take quite a while to list them all.

Here are some of the key ones that might interest you. However, please do speak to your personal advisor (PA) as they will know about plenty more!

Find It Out Centres

If you are aged 13-25 you can get advice and information by dropping into a Find It Out Centre. If you want to talk to someone in confidence you just need to make an appointment. If you have an issue that we can’t help you with, we will always do our best to put you in touch with somebody who can.

If you are 16-25 and need help looking for a job, apprenticeship, or finding suitable education or training, complete our online form.

Aspire Sussex

Courses for adults aged 19 or over are offered through Aspire Sussex. Concessions are available for those that are on income-based benefits such as Universal Credit or Income Support. The amount of concession available depends on which course you are interested in doing.

Colleges of further education

Further education in West Sussex is offered by several schools and colleges. Qualifications on offer include:

  • Skills for Life
  • ESOL Certificate
  • Foundation Learning
  • BTEC Level 1, 2 and 3 Diplomas
  • NVQ Level 2 and 3
  • Intermediate, Advanced and Higher Apprenticeship
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Foundation Degree (FdA)
  • Bachelor’s Degree (BA)

Whether you want to liven up your language skills, beef up your bricklaying or hop into health and social care, West Sussex colleges have something for you.

5 Apprenticeships, jobs and careers


We are committed to offering apprenticeship opportunities for care leavers. There are also many other apprenticeships with businesses available locally and nationally.

If you are interested in completing an apprenticeship, speak to your personal advisor (PA). They can help you explore which apprenticeship would be best for you.

You can also find information about applying for an apprenticeship and how to contact the National Apprenticeship Service by visiting GOV.UK.

Care leavers will be boosted by a new £1,000 bursary payment. The extra financial support will be for those aged 16-24. This helps them in the first year of their apprenticeship as learners jump into the workplace for their practical studies.

The £1,000 bursary will be paid once to each care leaver in the eligible age range when they start an apprenticeship. This comes in addition to the £1,000 we provide to both employers and training providers when they take on 16 to 18-year olds, or 19 to 24-year olds who were in care or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan.


We offer a range of support options for you if you’re looking to get into employment. We have several initiatives already up and running that will benefit you. We also have links with partner agencies who are ready with some exciting opportunities.

Every care leaver will have different support needs when it comes to seeking out employment and it will be for you to ask their PA for help where you need it. For example, the PA may wish to undertake some job searches with you and accompany you to a Jobcentre appointment. This could be because you are uncertain of how to search for work or lack confidence in attending work coach appointments at the Jobcentre.

The goal is always to help each care leaver to achieve independence and if a little support is required then that will be offered.

Your PA will signpost you to employment opportunities that are brought to their attention which would suit a specific care leaver. For example, if a PA knows you have always dreamed of become a sous chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant, they will bring to your attention an apprenticeship opportunity at a local food outlet.

Careers advice

Care leavers who live in West Sussex until their 25th birthday are offered support through Careers Support. The team can provide free careers information, advice, guidance and support to those that are not in education, employment or training.

Care leavers can talk to the career’s advisor about employment, apprenticeships, traineeships, further training and volunteering, and also get help with CVs, job hunting, and interview skills.

Career tasters

Unpaid (although out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed), short-term work is usually provided through a career taster. This gives you an opportunity to gain skills, confidence and experience and makes it easier for you to move towards a paid job. You can work flexibly with us for between 6 and 12 weeks.

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Last updated:
29 September 2020
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