Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge (21 March) to guarantee young people who have spent time in care a place at university and a full bursary, currently £7,625 from 2017/18, is a monumental step in the right direction for our care experienced population.
Currently, students who have a background in care are six times less likely to enter higher education than those who haven’t been. This is because they experience significant barriers to entry, such as financial and economic challenges, cultural barriers, and a lack of awareness and knowledge of pathways.
This extra targeted help for those who need it most will go some way to closing the attainment gap between those who are care experienced and those who are not. We must continue along this path and ensure that care experienced people are treated as equal members of our society and that their life prospects do not suffer simply because they have spent time in care.
The call from the First Minister comes on the back of Kezia Dugdale’s welcome pledge that the Labour Party too will provide greater support to young people in care entering higher education.
In the run up to May’s Scottish Parliament elections we urge all party leaders and candidates to recognise the need to do more to help our care experienced population.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Christine Carlin, Chief Executive, Mindroom
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations
Liz May, National Co-ordinator, Action for Sick Children Scotland