Leaving school - What next?

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Top Tips for Year 11's

As you know, young people need to be taking part in some kind of learning, training or employment up until they are 18 years of age. There are lots of different options - college, sixth form, apprenticeship, traineeship, work based learning, supported internship..... It may seem confusing so make sure you ask someone for help with this.
Most people don't have their whole lives planned out when they leave school so don't worry if you're not sure what the next steps should be. Speak to all the professionals that support you, including your social worker, designated teacher and carer.
Virtual School Kent are here to support you with exploring these choices so please ask if you would like some guidance. There is lots of helpful information below to help you - please let us know if there is anything else you would like us to include. Good Luck and enjoy exploring...


Top Tips for December 2015

Top Tips for January 2016

Top Tips for May 2016


What is available for Children in Care and Care Leavers at the colleges and universities in Kent and Medway? Click here to find out. 


Further Education

There are lots of different things you can do in Sixth Form or College. Think about what subjects you find interesting and enjoyable and what job you might like to do in the future. This can help you identify the best courses or qualifications to fit your interests and skills. Possibilities include A-Levels, BTECs, Apprenticeships, NVQs, HNDs and HNCs.

Young people in care may also be entitled to receive a bursary of up to £1200 per year. This can be used to help pay for books, travel, food and other materials that you need for your course. Not all colleges distribute this money in the same way so speak to the Designated Member of Staff for LAC at your college so that you get all the financial support that you are due. Usually you will need to provide proof of being in care, like a letter from you social worker. Be aware though that this is an alternative to and not an addition to the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

Click here for a summary of support available at the colleges in Kent and Medway.


University and Higher Education

There are so many options for young people wanting to go to university in terms of what you want to study and where. Your Personal Advisor or Social Worker can help you by identifying courses that might be right for you. You can get university prospectuses in libraries, online or you request them by phone or email. Many universities will have open days and some may offer Summer Schools as well. If you are thinking of moving away it is wise to research the area that the university is in so you know what else there is to do while you’re there.

You will still be eligible for financial support from the local authority while you are at university. Universities will also offer a range of emotional support for students including mentoring and learning support for those that need it.

Click here for a summary of the support you will receive and information from the Kent universities about what they will offer to you as a Care Leaver.

The H.E. Handbook for Care Leavers, developed by the Who Cares? Trust is an online resource that sets out the support that care leavers can expect from English and Scottish universities and colleges – including outreach work, bursaries, grants and welfare and accommodation support – and will help them in choosing where to apply for higher education courses. You can download the guide here.

Please also visit http://www.nnecl.org/ or http://propel.org.uk/ for information and support for care leavers wanting to get into higher education.


Raising the Participation Age

In June 2015, the rules changed about when you can finish school and education

What does it mean for you?

You will be expected to stay in learning or training for longer

What choices do you have?

You can do any one of these:

  • Full time education in school or college
  • Full time work with learning attached to it, e.g. an apprenticeship
  • Part time education if you are self employed, volunteering or doing some other type of useful activity

From June 2013:

You have to continue with some kind of education or training until you are 17, even if you are working

From June 2015:

You have to continue with some kind of education or training until you are 18, even if you are working 


  • This is to help you to achieve at least Level 2 qualifications by the time you are 19


The important thing is that you are continuing to learn!

 What you need to know

  • The local authority (Kent) has to ensure there are appropriate opportunities for young people
  • The local authority will make sure you have an appropriate offer of school, college or training place
  • Your school have to offer you independent careers advice and information
  • Employers have a duty to ensure that young people are able to attend education or training of at least 280 Guided Learning Hours (GLH) per year.

 Who Can Help

  • If you are at school or college, talk to your careers advisors department. If not, visit the National Careers Service website. It has information and tools to help and contacts to talk to an advisor
  • If you end up doing nothing or don't like what you are doing, Virtual School Kent can put you in touch with people who can help you. Get in touch with us by using the "Contact Us" page on this website.


What support is available for Children in Care and Care Leavers in Further Education in Kent and Medway?

For Kent Children in Care and Care Leavers, aged 16 years and over, support is available from the Colleges in Kent and Medway. Each College has a Designated Member of Staff (DMS) and their role is to be the main point of contact for the young person, Social Worker, Foster Carer and other professionals. They liaise with Course Tutors and make sure the young person is accessing all the support they need to ensure there are no barriers to learning. The DMS can meet with the young person before they become a student or over the summer break to help settle any nerves and to support transition. Click here for DMS contact details, financial support information and application details for colleges near you.


National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL)

NNECL is a partnership of universities and national charities working together to help young people in care into further and higher education.  Click here or visit www.nnecl.org for more information.



Universities and Colleges in Kent and Medway

North Kent College (Gravesend and Dartford)
Visit http://www.northkent.ac.uk/ for more information about the college

Mid Kent College (Medway and Maidstone)
Visit http://www.midkent.ac.uk/ for more information about the college


West Kent College (Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells)
Open Days:
Saturday 25th June: 10am - 1pm - Tonbridge Campus
Visit http://westkent.ac.uk/ for more information about the college
Hadlow College (Hadlow and Canterbury)
Visit http://hadlow.ac.uk/ for more information about the college

Ashford College
Open Days:
Saturday 25th June: 10am - 1pm
Visit http://ashford.ac.uk/ for more information about the college

Canterbury College
Open Days:
Wednesday 22nd June: 2 - 7pm - Canterbury Campus
Click here for bursary application form 2016/2017
Visit http://www.canterburycollege.ac.uk/ for more information about the college
East Kent College
Visit https://www.eastkent.ac.uk/ for more information about the college
University for the Creative Arts
Visit http://www.uca.ac.uk/ for more information
Canterbury Christ Church University
Open Days:
Saturday 2nd July: 9.30am-2.30pm - Medway Campus
Visit http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/ for more information about the university
University of Kent
Open Days:
Saturday 2nd July: 9am - 3pm - Canterbury Campus
Saturday 8th October: 9am - 3pm - Canterbury Campus
Saturday 15th October: 9am - 2pm - Medway Campus
Saturday 22nd October: 9am - 3pm - Canterbury Campus
Visit http://www.kent.ac.uk/ for more information about the university
University of Greenwich
Open Days:
Saturday 2nd July: 10am - 3pm - All campuses
Visit http://www2.gre.ac.uk/ for more information about the university
Virtual School Kent