Peterborough’s combined authority becomes first to offer bursary to young care leavers
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has become the first in the country to offer a bursary to young care leavers to further their education.
The Combined Authority is providing bursaries for care leavers aged 19 to 22 to build their skills and continue their education and help them into better jobs and careers; which is on top of bursary funding already available for those leaving care aged 16 to 18.
Young people leaving the care system are among the most vulnerable groups in society, requiring help with living independently and continuing education.
In 2019/20, fewer care leavers continued in education, employment, or training across Cambridgeshire (44 percent) and Peterborough (43 percent) compared to England’s average (51 percent).
Up to 100 care leavers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are expected to benefit from the new Care Leavers Bursary, offering up to £1,200 per care leaver. Funding will be available from this September.
The funding comes from the Combined Authority’s adult education budget, which is a responsibility devolved from government. The Combined Authority funds a range of colleges and training providers to provide adult education in the region.
Since devolution, more focus has been placed on giving people skills they need to secure better jobs and better pay and in turn meeting shortages identified by local employers. There has been particular focus on areas where people have fewer skills and qualifications on average, including in Fenland and Peterborough.
This latest bursary is an example of the flexibility the Combined Authority has to use the adult education budget to meet local need.
The Combined Authority has written to colleges and training providers to ask them to run the bursaries and help as many eligible people as possible to take up the offer.
Care leavers will have access to skills training from entry level up to level 3. Level 3 is equivalent to A-levels or other qualifications such as NVQs and BTEC diplomas. The aim is to help care leavers go on to university, apprenticeships or into employment, and therefore the skills on offer cover both academic and technical skills. English and maths and skills in construction, health and social care, engineering, digital, hospitality and catering, are among the courses available.
To be eligible, care leavers live in the region, under the care of Cambridgeshire County Council or Peterborough City Council and must be enrolled onto a course at an adult education provider funded by the Combined Authority. Care leavers living independently who are residents, but under the care of other local authorities, are also eligible if they enrol onto a course at a Combined Authority funded provider.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “The Combined Authority is leading the way nationally in extending adult education bursaries for young people leaving the care system.
“Those who go through the care system are less likely to end up in continued education, training or employment than those who don’t. The compassionate response is to help, so I’m pleased we have been able to make this money available to encourage more young care leavers to get the skills which stand to make a big difference to their lives.
“I have written to those colleges and training providers who deliver adult education to ask them to make the most of this funding by helping as many young care leavers as possible onto courses.
“Later this autumn I will also be signing the Care Leavers Covenant which is a commitment to helping people leaving care to live independently.”
Those interested can also contact the colleges and training providers which run Adult Education courses directly, a list of which can be found on the Combined Authority website.