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Press Release: Become aims to inspire looked after young Scots to stay in education for longer

From today, care-experienced young people across Scotland will have a unique new resource to help them reach their full potential. Become is launching Propel Scotland, an online resource for care-experienced young Scots and the carers and professionals who support them. Propel Scotland will allow young people to access and compare information about courses and the support on offer to them at every further education college in Scotland and 94 per cent of all universities in the UK.

This comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the SNP’s commitment to looked after children and young people, stating that “by 2021, we want looked after children to be just as likely to be in college, training or a job as other children.” The First Minister’s ambition represents a considerable challenge for everyone working towards fairer access, but it is particularly daunting for those supporting looked after young people. The latest figures show that in 2014/15:

  • 73 per cent of looked after young people left school aged 16 and under, compared to 27 per cent of other young people;
  • one in ten care-experienced young people dropped out of further education, compared to one in 20 from other backgrounds;
  • nine months after leaving school, 31% of looked-after young people were not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared with only 8% of school leavers generally. (2)

Become launched a UK-wide version of the Propel website in 2015 with the aim of inspiring care leavers to progress into higher education. Evidence from an interim evaluation of the project suggests that it is working; since launch, the site has had over 17,500 visitors, and three-quarters of young people who responded to a survey about Propel stated that the resource made them feel more confident about applying for a higher education course.

Thanks to the generous support of the Scottish Funding Council, Propel Scotland has now been expanded with the aim of inspiring more young people to stay on in education after the age of 16. The site contains Scotland-specific further education and higher education advice and guidance around key issues such as funding and accommodation. Young people can compare course information from every further education college in Scotland and 94 per cent of all universities in the UK. Video and written testimony from young people who have taken the next step with their learning, either at college or university, aims to inspire self-belief and motivation to pursue their ambitions.

The Delivery Plan for Scottish Education states that, with its partners, the Scottish Government will have a ‘relentless focus on closing the attainment gap’. Propel aims to help play a part in this, by ensuring that young care-experienced people are inspired, informed and motivated to stay in education, for as long as possible.

Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of Become, said:

“Closing the gap in educational attainment between children and young people with experience of care and their peers is absolutely fundamental to improving the long-term outcomes for this group. It’s clear that the Scottish Government is committed to reducing educational inequalities, and rightly so – corporate parents should be working together to help all their children succeed, just like all good parents do for their children.

“We want young people with experience of care to feel empowered to push their personal ambitions and aspirations beyond what others may expect of them – or what they may expect of themselves. Only then will they truly unlock their potential and flourish.”

John Kemp, Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Getting more care leavers to stay on in education after the age of 16 is a priority. This new addition to the Propel website makes a great idea even better, by making it easier for care leavers to get the information they need. I’m delighted that our funding has helped to make this possible.”