Caring for our children and young people: corporate parenting update 2018 to 2021

Second national report on corporate parenting by Scottish Ministers. In this 2018 to 2021 report, we provide an overview of corporate parents’ activities over the last three years, and how they have delivered their duties to support children and young people with care experience.

Chapter 6: Corporate Parenting Activities of Scotland’s Colleges


In this chapter we review the corporate parenting activities of Scotland’s colleges between 2018 and 2021. The chapter is based on the survey responses provided by 23 of Scotland’s 29 colleges; seven of which were responses from colleges within the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) network.

The survey asked corporate parents to describe the changes colleges had made under each of the corporate parenting duties, what difference these changes had had on colleges and the services they provide, and what these changes meant for the lives of care experienced children and young people.

Through their responses colleges have highlighted the substantial effort given to supporting care experienced young people within their college communities.

Particularly notable has been the efforts taken by colleges to:

  • Develop cultures and processes through which students can identify as care experienced and receive support.
  • Support with transitions into college and provision of a range of supports and services in response to individual needs.
  • Improve the collection and use of data to help inform early help and intervention for care experienced students who may be struggling or who are at risk of dropping out.
  • Work collaboratively to support and learn from other corporate parents, as well as engaging with specialist providers, recognising the need in some instances for additional skills and resources when supporting a young person.

Whilst colleges have highlighted a range of activities specifically tailored to the needs of care experienced students, in some instances, colleges reported on activities that are available to all students, including those who are care experienced. Where possible we have sought to identify where activities reported under the duties are part of a wider provision of support and highlight where colleges have undertaken additional activity to ensure that care experienced students are aware of and able to benefit from these provisions.


It is the duty of every corporate parent to be alert to matters which, or which might, adversely affect the wellbeing of children and young people.

Colleges reported a range of activities they had undertaken to ensure that they were alert to matters which may affect a young person whilst at college, including: changes to staff training and awareness raising, college-wide awareness raising, dedicated supports for care experienced students and, partnership working.


Staff training and awareness raising

Since 2018 colleges have developed a range of approaches and resources to raise awareness amongst staff about the needs of care experienced students within their communities, including:

  • Mandatory all staff training and refresher training
  • Designated roles and responsibilities across college departments and campuses
  • Support from external partners in reviewing and developing training materials and resources
  • Input from care experienced students at leadership meetings.

Across several colleges, information about corporate parenting and staff responsibilities towards care experienced students has been embedded within induction processes for new college staff.

Colleges also described activities intended to ensure that curriculum staff and wider support staff are collectively aware of and alert to the wellbeing of care experienced students.


Fife College have introduced a Care Experienced Co-ordinator role to oversee all aspects of corporate parenting and to support the corporate parent plan. This post provides one point of contact for staff when they have concerns or questions they wish to discuss. This has led to increased confidence that where additional support needs or concerns are identified for a care experienced student there is a place to take this to be followed-up; as well as a consistent point of contact for care experienced students to access support through.

Dundee and Angus College have introduced a flag system that alerts curriculum staff when a care experienced student is considering withdrawing from their course, acting as a reminder to curriculum staff that student services are involved in supporting the student. Students are reported as commenting positively about the relationship they develop with their student services workers, that this support assists them with managing their mental health and wellbeing and to remain at college.

The UHI College network established an information session on corporate parenting as part of all staff inductions which is followed up by an online mandatory training module and online trauma training. Recognising the impact of trauma, staff have been supported to expand their knowledge and understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the impact these have on students.


College-wide awareness raising

In addition to raising staff awareness, colleges have also sought to increase awareness about what it means to be care experienced within their wider college communities. Examples included information sessions, events and, in a small number of colleges, designated roles within college life for care experienced students (e.g. as a Care Experienced Ambassador or a Care Experienced Officer in the Students Association).

Colleges also highlighted that they were keen for these college-wide awareness raising activities to alert care experienced students to the supports available to them within the college and encourage them to self-disclose their care experience.


New College Lanarkshire have embedded Care Day within its Learner Engagement Calendar. They celebrated this across all three of their main college campuses with fun activities and by providing information about care experience and the supports available in college.

Shetland College have run an annual awareness raising campaign with care experienced students to raise awareness and improve understanding amongst the student population. This has proved difficult throughout the COVID-19pandemic, but their engagement team have been active on social media for national campaigns around care leavers.


Enhanced opportunities to disclose care experience

To be able to identify and respond to the needs of care experienced students in their communities, colleges have taken steps to provide more opportunity for students to self-disclose their care experience at any point in their college journey.


West Lothian College have made changes to its application process so that it includes a clear definition of what is meant by ‘care experienced’. This has led to improvements in the identification of care experienced students as well as improved opportunities for care experienced students to self-disclose.

South Lanarkshire College have removed barriers to self-disclosure. Care experienced students can notify the college of their care experience status at any point during their learning journey through the student portal.

The UHI College network introduced a care experienced tick box and a consent to be contacted box to their enrolment form. When a student discloses that they are care experienced, student support officer(s) get in touch with the student and offer to discuss with them the support they can access. “This has allowed us to proactively support students rather than wait for them to seek support, and ensure support is implemented in a timely manner”.


Partnership working and collaboration with partner agencies and stakeholders

Colleges reported that they attended local and national forums to ensure that they remained up to date with developments in policy, practice or specific needs of care experienced young people. Forums discussed included:

  • Corporate parenting forums and strategy groups
  • Community planning partnerships
  • Champions Boards
  • College development network


Dumfries and Galloway College attend the regional corporate parenting group to remain alert to local activities and provisions to ensure they are serving the best interests of care experienced students. They also have staff attending national working groups which focus on a range of topics to ensure that they are up to date with current best practices across the sector as well as to ensure that they are aware of the requirements and expectations of corporate parents.


Dedicated supports for care experienced students

Corporate parents highlighted designated materials with information targeted at care experienced students to alert them to the services and support available. Examples of materials aimed specifically at care experienced students included: leaflets, a care experienced newspaper, webpages, social media groups, designated email accounts, and drop-in services.

Many colleges talked about using variations of a named person approach to supporting care experienced students, whereby each young person is allocated one point of contact through which they can access information, advice and support. This named person is described as having responsibilities for being alert to the needs of individual students, supporting their transitions into college, ensuring that appropriate assessments are undertaken, supporting students to access supports and to navigate any barriers they might encounter whilst at college.


Borders College have established their Care Aware Support Service. This service provides an opportunity for all care experienced students to access a dedicated advisor who will support them throughout their time at college, providing advice, guidance, and wellbeing support. This service is reported as invaluable to some care experienced students. Feedback from one student emphasises that they valued this support. “Thank you so much for all the support you have showing me over the duration of me being at college you have really helped me through it all”.

Dundee and Angus College student services, in partnership with the throughcare and aftercare team, run a care experienced drop-in service at two of their campuses. These meetings have worked well for both staff and students, providing accessible help to students facilitating progress on both academic and welfare issues. The drop-in sessions have also facilitated more regular contact with students who would not have wanted to attend a scheduled one-to-one meeting. Student feedback shows that they find the drop-in sessions helpful and supportive with keeping them on track with their studies.

Fife College have set up a ‘we care’ email address specifically for enquiries from care experienced students so that these can be responded to promptly. In addition to this, a social media channel has been set up specifically for care experienced students allowing for information to be shared and feedback and comments sought on relevant issues arising.


It is the duty of every corporate parent to assess the needs of those children and young people for services and support it provides.

Colleges spoke to the pre-entry support given to young people as they transition into the college, often done in partnership with other organisations and services. Much of the activity from 2018 to present day to support the assessment of needs of young people transitioning into college appears to have been focused on developing seamless transitions, prioritising early assessments of learning and wellbeing needs and ensuring that young people are supported to overcome issues that may become barriers to learning. Prioritisation of care experienced young people when allocating enhanced provisions of support was also a feature of some of the activity described.

Whilst some colleges discussed activities to assess the needs of care experienced young people transitioning on from college, this is an area in need of further attention.


Assessment of learning and wellbeing needs

Collaborative planning to support young people transitioning into college was identified as enabling colleges to undertake early assessment of the needs of care experienced students.


Dundee and Angus College have introduced three meetings annually with Angus throughcare and aftercare services (the Horizon team) to support transitions planning for care experienced young people attending college. This planning approach has ensured that all relevant information is shared with the college to ensure that students’ needs have been identified so that support can be put in place. It is reported that students view it as helpful when their workers talk together to resolve issues. Students have also reported that they like being introduced to college staff by their social worker and that this helps with building relationships and allows them to consider what support they might need and want at college.

Dumfries and Galloway College allocate a designated advisor to support care experienced students. Where necessary, advisors undertake a support needs assessment. In addition to this, each curriculum team has a designated student advisor with a focus on supporting retention and attainment, working closely with students to facilitate support between advisors and curriculum staff. The college also has a team of educational support workers who work one-to-one with students on their academic performance. This combined system of support has had a positive impact on student retention and attainment amongst care experienced students with an increase from 61% retention in 2018/19 to 89% in 20/21.

Borders Young Talent Project provides mentoring support to young people in their final year of school who face additional challenges when transitioning to college. The one-to-one mentoring provides an opportunity to assess students’ needs to ensure that activities promote their wellbeing, build meta skills and their resilience. Feedback from schools indicates that this approach has been successful in engaging with young people who sometimes don’t take up additional support. “It can be a challenge to get the kids to take it on. [The mentor] has been great at building relationships with them. It’s all about relationship building.” Young people commented, “it gave me the motivation to continue” and “it was the encouragement I got from my mentor that helped me to keep going”.


Assessment of financial support

In the changing context of the financial entitlements of care experienced students, colleges have developed processes to assess the financial support students are eligible to access. Through income maximisation assessments, information and advice about funding options and fast-track application processes, colleges are actively addressing financial barriers to engaging in further education for care experienced students.


Dundee and Angus have introduced a priority flag so that care experienced bursary applications were assessed more quickly than other students. As a result, bursaries were being assessed usually within 24-48 hours of the application. Students reported appreciating the quick turnaround of their bursaries being awarded. In addition to this the college have introduced a policy that no care experienced bursary can be stopped by the curriculum team without prior contact with the student and the involvement of student services. As a result, fewer bursaries are being stopped due to low attendance unless essential. This has ensured that student’s income is stable and reduced additional stresses.

Ayrshire College offer every care experienced student an individual income maximisation assessment carried out by the student funding team, in part this is to ensure that students aren’t disadvantaged by accepting the Care Experienced Bursary and that students receive the most appropriate funding package.


It is the duty of every corporate parent to promote the interests of those children and young people.

Colleges have highlighted a range of activities to promote the interests of children and young people. Many colleges spoke to the work they had undertaken to promote care experienced young people as part of the college community, and to build care experienced young people’s sense of belonging to this. Several colleges spoke to the role of a named person within the college to provide individualised support to young people, whilst activities co-ordinated through student’s associations were often used to promote and engage with care experienced young people as a group. Promoting the range of supports and services available to potential and current students through the college was also a focus of the activities described.


Promotion of care experienced students within the college community

Ensuring that care experienced young people have a sense of belonging within their college community is clearly evidenced as a priority for many colleges in Scotland. Colleges have used national events, such as Care History Month and Care Experienced Week to offer a bespoke programme of events and activities aimed at care experienced students. Further to this, colleges have used these opportunities to demonstrate their commitments to care experienced students, to raise awareness within the wider college community of what it means to be care experienced and to build relationships with care experienced students.

Outwith these annual events colleges have sought to maintain young people’s sense of belonging within the college community through relationships with staff and by promoting and supporting participation of care experienced students within the student association groups and forums.


South Lanarkshire College, in partnership with external organisations, host events for care experienced students as part of care experienced week. During lockdown, events were hosted virtually and an informal catch-up was arranged to allow care experienced students to meet and discuss their experiences. Following the success of the event, a Microsoft Teams channel continued to be used for care experienced students to meet virtually.

In the 2019-20 session Dundee and Angus College introduced their care experience pledge, committing to offering places at the college to care experienced young people. The intention of the pledge was to promote Dundee and Angus College as a place that believes in care experienced young people and that the college want these young people to be part of their community. This messaging was important for staff and students at the college. Dundee and Angus College have reported that their care experience pledge has contributed to increasing the number of applications from care experienced young people.

Fife College ‘show we care days’ are used to raise awareness throughout the college between staff and students about what it means to be care experienced and to eliminate stigma for care experienced students.


Promotion of services and supports available within the college

Ensuring that care experienced students are aware of the supports available to them and how to access these is an important step in ensuring that the needs of students can be responded to. Colleges highlighted the ways in which they promote the interests of care experienced students through the services and supports they offer.

For example, actions taken to promote the wider wellbeing of care experienced students included:

  • Provision of breakfast and lunch clubs (in response to staff highlighting that care experienced students were not having breakfast at home)
  • Digital inclusion, wi-fi access and support to stay safe online
  • Birthday cards
  • Opportunities to socialise with staff and students (e.g. film nights)
  • Additional financial supports to purchase essentials for college life.

In response to COVID-19 colleges have adapted their provision of supports so that where possible these can continue in a virtual format. Colleges have also described diversifying their communication approaches to share information about supports available to students as a result of the pandemic (e.g. apps, text messaging, phone calls, emails, virtual notice boards, and webpages).


Fife College established their Corporate Parenting Champions group to create a cohort of staff on all campuses to help and support care experienced students. The Champions group includes membership of staff from across the college (inclusion, guidance, employability, registry, funding, library, HR, etc.) who help to support events and promote activities for care experienced students, raising awareness of these across faculties.

West Lothian College have a Champions Board based within the college which they report as having had positive outcomes for staff and students, providing easy access to information for potential applicants.


Promotion of supports and services available outwith the college

Whilst less detail was provided about how colleges promoted young people’s interests beyond the services and supports available through college, there were some examples given of colleges promoting supports outside of the college provision.

Some of the colleges highlighted their engagement with supports for students through external service providers, who could provide an enhanced level of support, where additional support needs were identified.


To promote support available to its care experienced students during holiday periods a ‘holiday toolkit’ was created on the Inverness College website. The holiday toolkit included a wide range of external support within their locality covering areas such as foodbanks, shelters, gender-based violence support, mental health support, and health support. Counselling, wellbeing and transition teams worked collaboratively to share updates, announcements and opportunities on social media platforms including during holiday periods.

City of Glasgow College drew on the support of Action for Children’s STAY> project to support with the retention of care experienced students at risk of withdrawing from their course. They work one-to-one with young people to help connect students to support both within the college and the wider community.


Promotion of alternative routes into college

In response to a small number of cases colleges have developed an even more bespoke and personalised approach to supporting young people to engage with college. These approaches are used to promote and respond to individual interests to help identify what learning opportunities they would be most suited to and consequently more likely to engage with and benefit from.


Glasgow Kelvin College have developed bespoke programmes to support their most disengaged and vulnerable students using a youth work approach, through which students learn life skills and exposure to different vocational areas. This approach has been very successful at supporting students to gain community achievement awards and National 4 and 5 qualifications. Evidence also indicates that younger care experienced students have been more engaged with learning and as a result many have moved into mainstream programmes successfully. Students have also fed back that they have felt welcomed into the college community and that they feel empowered to tell the college what they need.

West Lothian College’s partnership project with the Criminal Justice and Youth Justice team has improved the chances of young people within the system. Education as an alternative to a custodial sentence is a key aim of the project. Those who are interested are offered a preparatory course to support them to prepare for mainstream learning in the college.


It is the duty of every corporate parent to seek to provide those children and young people with opportunities to participate in activities designed to promote their wellbeing.

Ensuring that care experienced young people have the opportunity to attend college and that they are supported to participate in college life was clearly a priority for activity under this duty. Once enrolled, colleges offer students access to a range of supports and services, often with priority given to care experienced young people, to help with health and wellbeing, employment, participation, finances and other areas of need.


Mental health and wellbeing

Colleges have highlighted ways in which they provide opportunities to promote the mental health and wellbeing of care experienced students. The opportunities highlighted range from activities which have led to specific fast-track referral routes into intensive and personalised supports for young people who find themselves in difficult circumstances, to broader college wide activities which promote the overall wellbeing of students.


Dumfries and Galloway College has partnered with Togetherall to provide online resources, tools and access to counselling support for all students 24/7.

In partnership with Action for Children, Glasgow Kelvin College have a Care Experienced Officer on campus to support care experienced students by providing practical and emotional care and support.

Ayrshire College have embedded a wellbeing approach across the curriculum. A Mental Health Liaison Officer and Drug and Alcohol liaison Officer and Campus Police Liaison Officer are jointly funded by the college and three local health and social care partnerships and with Police Scotland. Liaison officers deliver one-to-one support as well as workshops to student groups, topics have included ‘Looking After Your Mental Health’, ‘Drug and Alcohol Awareness’, ‘Staying Safe Online’ and ‘Understanding Healthy Relationships and Gender Based Violence’.

Ayrshire College also have a direct referral route into CAMHS, adult support and protection teams, and local addiction services through an alcohol and drugs liaison officer. These established referral routes allow the college to access specialist services and supports for students when needed.



Colleges identified steps they had taken to support care experienced students to access and maximise the financial supports they were eligible for whilst at college.

In addition, some colleges spoke to provisions they’d made to provide additional financial supports so that care experienced students could access similar experiences and opportunities as their peers.


Fife College have provided care experience students with a voucher to buy clothes and essentials for starting college to alleviate potential embarrassment from not having the same as peers. In partnership with Madlug, they also give all care experienced students a rucksack with essential items for their college journey.

North East Scotland College, responded to feedback from care experienced students who highlighted challenges with financial planning by providing options on the frequency of further education bursary payments to students to encourage better budgeting. As a result most students receive weekly rather than monthly payments.

West College Scotland highlight that the named contact support for care experienced students helps to ensure that funding is in place as quickly and smoothly as possible and that students experience a joined-up approach whereby they do not need to repeat information to access support services.

The UHI College network introduced a Graduation Bursary to support students with graduation fees, gown hire, photographs, travel and accommodation.


Training and employability

Several colleges highlighted opportunities for care experienced students to gain knowledge, experiences and skills outside of those taught on their course.

Fife College have an employability team with a remit to support care experienced students to access opportunities within the labour market.

Fife College have also run a project to encourage Care Experienced students to consider volunteering for the Children’s Hearings Panel. This project was aimed at supporting the selection of new panel members and provides a variety of opportunities for young people to increase their knowledge and employability skills. Participating students received training, a certificate, a Saltire Award and a working wage paid in vouchers.

West College Scotland provide opportunities for care experienced students to access placements, work experience, employment and bespoke learning and training opportunities through close partnership working with other corporate parents (e.g. colleges, universities, local authorities, Skills Development Scotland, NHS, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and SQA), third sector providers (e.g. Quarriers, Action for Children, Kibble and Who Cares? Scotland), employers and other organisations (e.g. CELCIS, National Union of Students and Focus West).

City of Glasgow College provide care experienced students with a Named Careers Advisor through which students can access individual support to access further education, training or to prepare for the workplace.


Housing and transport

Most of the colleges did not highlight any activities specifically linked to supporting care experienced young people with housing. Where opportunities to access support with housing were referenced these mostly referred to the possibility of providing care experienced students with access to year-round accommodation.

Likewise, based on the survey responses, access to transport does not appear to have been an area of focus for colleges during this reporting period. Where transport was highlighted as an activity, recognition of the importance of this came in response to COVID-19. Yet, for some colleges, particularly those in more rural areas, ensuring young people can access transport to and from college would be another opportunity to help support care experienced students to access college.


The UHI College network has made available 365-day accommodation for care experienced students with their student accommodation partners to ensure that no one finds themselves without accommodation during the summer period. Accommodation is provided at a reduced rate, flexible deposit and rental payments have been introduced, and the college can act as a guarantor for any student who may not otherwise have one. For accommodation staff, training has been provided to help them better understand the needs of the students.

Dumfries and Galloway College have worked with local transport suppliers to ensure that transport is available to all students coming to college without charge.


Extracurricular opportunities

Colleges talked to the important role that student associations play in providing all students with opportunities to participate in college activities, promoting student wellbeing and encouraging students to participate in the range of activities available through the college.

Some colleges talked about the partnerships they had developed with third sector providers through which colleges were able to support care experienced students to access opportunities to explore and develop new skills and interests.


Glasgow Kelvin College highlighted that members of their students association sit on the college Health and Wellbeing Committee. This group ensure that all students, including care experienced students have access to a range of health and wellbeing supports and activities (e.g., mental health supports and counselling, mindfulness sessions, and breakfast clubs), practical supports (e.g., with accessing IT equipment and food) and activities (e.g., competitions, charity events, volunteering, and outdoor activities). This provides reassurance to students that their wellbeing is important.

Inverness College’s Access and Transition Coordinator is a member of the local Who Cares? Scotland Opportunities Steering Group. A broad range of partner agencies attend the steering group including: Barnardo’s, MusiCares, Enable Scotland, Highland Champs, Skills Development Scotland and the Calman Trust, which allows for a wide range of opportunities, activities and events, additional funding and work placement schemes, to be shared with students and staff teams.

Dundee and Angus College participated in the Your Futures Project which gave priority access to care experienced young people. Funded by Scottish Government, the project offered intensive supports to young people who do not always engage with universal supports and services. These supports included staff with dedicated time to meet young people’s needs, support to young people to identify and transition on to their next opportunity following completion of a course. A summer programme offered group and individual opportunities for care experienced young people to try different activities including drama, team building, volunteering, taster classes, and first aid skills. One young person described what participation in the Your Futures Project meant to them and the impact on their life:

“Before starting the Find your Futures care course I was really struggling with life in general. My home life wasn’t the best and my mental health was also in bad shape. I really hesitated in starting college but I’m so glad I did as I learned lots about myself and started to accept that a bright future was possible. Student Services guided me with action plans and were always there if I had a question, when I needed academic support or I needed to speak about my mental health. My journey has been a bit up and down since starting college but I now have my own flat and a part time job along with college. I’m happy to say I’m going onto the HNC in Social Services course which is bringing me closer to starting uni to be a social worker so I am happy with the way things are turning out.”


  • It is the duty of every corporate parent to take such action as it considers appropriate to help those children and young people to:
  • access opportunities;
  • make use of services, and access support, which it provides; and

As highlighted above, supporting young people to access college has been a priority for activity that spans across the duties. Making it easier for young people to access college and doing this in a way that ensures they feel supported and included has been part of the activity to support young people considering applying to and entering college. Designated care experienced open days, campus tours and transitions support collectively contribute to supporting young people to access college. Once enrolled in college care experienced students are then able to access bespoke services to support them through college, and to a lesser extent, colleges also referenced supports for care experienced students to access opportunities when transitioning out of college.


Widening Access

Colleges have developed enhanced supports for care experienced students interested in applying to college, including designated open days, supported transitions, identified named contacts and support to access financial support.

As part of the provision of support to access college, several colleges make guarantees for care experienced young people in the form of a guaranteed interview or in some cases a guaranteed place at college.


Fife College have arranged open day sessions specifically for care experienced students during the summer holidays to allow new students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the campus and meet staff.

The UHI College network has simplified its application process and has clear wording around declaring care experience to ensure declarations are supported at the earliest point. Contextualised admissions are then in place for all care experienced applicants to ensure a guaranteed interview and a guaranteed offer of place on the course of choice, or a suitable alternative. Applicants who are not successful in their course choice can meet with a member of the Careers and Guidance team who will explore alternative opportunities, including opportunities external to the college.

Glasgow Kelvin College provide care experienced students access to the John Wheatley Learning Network to improve their digital inclusion skills. This network also promotes other learning opportunities within the local area that students can access through the network. Greater access to digital learning has increased care experienced young people’s learning opportunities, as well as their ability to be connected.


Transitions into college

Supporting young people to access college has been a key area of activity.

Colleges evidenced a large amount of activity relating to supporting young people transitioning into college, with attention to ensuring that these transitions were seamless and well supported.

Partnership working with local agencies and organisations (i.e. social work, education, Skills Development Scotland, third sector providers, etc.) have been used to ensure that colleges have all the relevant information needed to put in place supports and address any potential barriers based on the needs of individual students.


City of Glasgow College have introduced a priority group referral process, to provide a responsive referral process to support students who are care experienced or who have additional support needs. Students are provided with personalised information and a referral to a named student advisor allowing for information and support to be in place prior to college starting and to provide an opportunity for care experienced students to let the college know what they need from the college.

Staff from Ayrshire College have been attending transition meetings, care experienced review meetings and team around the child meetings across the three local authorities as part of support planning for care experienced young people. The purpose of this partnership working is to ensure that there is effective transitions support for care experienced students at all stages of their learner journey.

The referral system between Fife High Schools, Social Work and Fife College has been facilitating sharing of information about care experienced school leavers allowing for early engagement and preparation support strategies to ensure students are given a fully supported transition into college.

Inverness College has been operating a positive declaration environment and encourages declarations of care experience at the earliest point to enable timely and appropriate support. Wherever possible, contacts have been made with potential students whilst they are in their senior phase of high school to facilitate relationship building and discuss opportunities for a smooth transition. Prior to applying for college, care experienced students are provided with preparatory support such as help in identifying suitable routes of study, completing application forms, writing personal statements, preparing for interview and tours of the campus setting. Over the summer months, the college has also been offering a tailored programme to support transition including, familiarisation tours of the campus, support with travel plans, advice around funding and accommodation, budgeting and financial planning, and ongoing support arrangements are put in place prior to enrolment.


Transitions on from college

Whilst greater emphasis has been given to supporting young people during their transitions into college, some colleges reported on activities they had undertaken to support care experienced young people as they transitioned on from college.


Glasgow Clyde College have been providing pre-exit support for all care experienced students in the form of a ‘moving-on’ interview and careers session as well as individual support from their named person contact.

City of Glasgow College, as part of their support for young people transitioning on from college, have been encouraging students with university offers to apply to the Robertson Trust Scholarship, which also provides ongoing mentoring support and activities to build the young people’s confidence.


It is the duty of every corporate parent to take such other action as it considers appropriate for the purposes of improving the way in which it exercises its functions in relation to those children and young people.

Colleges highlighted improvements in how they collect and use data to inform service improvements. Some colleges reported far greater and more routine use of key performance indicators for care experienced students within strategic planning groups, with some colleges adding additional indictors to monitor the progress of care experienced students. Colleges spoke to greater use of data to identify students at risk of dropping out or in need of additional support for learning so that help and support could be provided earlier. Understanding the views and experiences of care experienced students within their community has also been a priority area of activity with several colleges highlighting the informal and formal processes in place to gather information and feedback from students.


Internal Reviews of Plans and Activity

Colleges utilised self-evaluation tools alongside data monitoring to review their corporate parenting activities and identify areas for improvement.

Colleges also described engagement with local and national forums for corporate parenting as an opportunity to discuss and reflect on their progress with other corporate parents.


Borders College recently established a Corporate Parenting, Student Carers and Estranged Students Working Group as part of their activities for reviewing and developing action plans.

Glasgow Clyde College highlighted the benefits provided by the Glasgow Colleges Corporate Parenting Forum, involving representatives from relevant partners and agencies within the city. Glasgow Clyde College identified that one of the primary benefits of this collaborative forum has been the opportunity to collectively identify any trends, and common challenges for care experienced students as well as to discuss local and national issues impacting on students and how these can be best addressed.

Inverness College has biannual meetings with its local corporate parenting partners where it presents its engagement with care experienced students and their successes for each academic year. The college also meets quarterly with students and staff as part of a student experience committee where activities are scrutinised. The care experienced action group also meets once a month to identify areas of concern or action and report on the immediate experiences of our students. These forums help to identify areas for development and improvement over the next academic year.


Reporting to External Bodies

As part of the Regional Outcome Agreement and Further Education data returns to the Scottish Funding Council colleges collect and monitor data relating to care experienced key performance indicators. Colleges have reported routinely using these data as part of their ongoing monitoring of care experienced students and their needs between external reporting periods.


Ayrshire College’s analysis of the key performance indicators collected and reported on annually to the Scottish Funding Council, shows that since 2017-18 they have increased the number of credits delivered to care experienced students as well as an increase in completion rates for care experienced students.

Ayrshire College also highlighted that their student experience team monitored key performance indicators linked to the number of one-to-one meetings, number of safeguarding reports, number of pupil learning support plans and number of discretionary payments, for care experienced students, and reported that this information has allowed the college to continue to develop enhanced services to respond to the needs of care experienced students.

North East Scotland College report on their key performance indicators to the Champions Board as well as their regional Corporate Parenting Strategy Group, and have used this to jointly evaluate the impact of services and supports, as well as access to education and employment.


Use of student-level data to target supports

Improved processes around data collection and application about identified care experienced students, has made it easier to identify students, assess their needs and adapt supports so that young people are able to sustain their engagement and be successful with their learning.

Some colleges described using the key performance indicators required by the Scottish Funding Council and expanding on these to include additional indicators for care experienced students (e.g. frequency of one-to-one meetings, number of Safeguarding reports, number of discretionary payments, etc.) to identify students at risk of dropping out of their course or where additional learning support may be needed. Some colleges are using this data to look at trends in outcomes for this group.


City of Glasgow College have developed a student dashboard which allows them to track and predict success for their care experienced students by tracking attendance and predicting if a student is on course to complete their course and if needed intervene to support the student.

City of Glasgow College have also used their data to look at trends in yearly outcomes to inform future planning. Their data has highlighted that in recent years, there has been an upward trend in the number of students declaring care experience, applying, and then enrolling on courses. Analysis of the data allowed the college to identify a downward trend in the success rates for care experienced students when compared to non-care experienced students. Further analysis was done to identify if there were clusters of students on specific courses with partial or no success, this analysis allowed for additional support to be planned both for individuals and if needed whole class support.

Ayrshire College Business Intelligence and Information Systems Team developed a retention tool to collate and analyse student data to identify students at risk of withdrawal or non-completion. The analysis can identify characteristics of students, including if a student is known to be care experienced, allowing for prioritisation of support. This approach has facilitated greater understanding of the needs of individual care experienced students as well as facilitating more effective responses to these needs.


Engagement and Consultation with Care experienced Students

Engaging care experienced students in feedback processes was identified by some colleges as a challenge and a focus for further development and improvement.

Colleges described using a range of approaches, both formal and informal, to gather feedback from students to gauge opportunities for future activity and improvements. Examples of the approaches used by colleges included:

  • Formal student feedback processes (including student satisfaction surveys)
  • Care experienced focus groups organised through the student association
  • Informal information and feedback through curriculum staff
  • Informal feedback through named contacts
  • Attendance at local champion board meetings by college representative
  • Involvement in informing and developing policies for students.


Ayrshire College invited care experienced young people for the Connecting Voices Group in East Ayrshire and the Champion’s Board in South Ayrshire to provide feedback on the information shared with care experienced students via information leaflets and on the college website. The feedback from young people resulted in changes to these resources to ensure they were accessible and engaging.

At Glasgow Kelvin College, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, with the involvement of care experienced young people, have undertaken an impact assessment of college policies, procedures and practices for students to help inform their future development.

North East College Scotland established a care experienced focus group as an opportunity for young people to give feedback and influence the provision of services and supports.

In Summary

Across the Section 58 duties, most colleges evidenced a range of activities which demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that care experienced young people are supported to access, sustain and benefit from the opportunities and supports available through college. However, there were notable gaps in the provision of supports for housing, travel and transitions on from college and therefore scope for improvement in these areas. Where colleges were less able to provide evidence of their corporate parenting activity, greater focus on activity which are tailored to the needs of care experienced students was needed. Renewed focus on sustained and innovative opportunities for care experienced young people to participate in identifying, planning, developing and reviewing corporate parent activities which meet their needs, would benefit all colleges.



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