Foster carers, social workers and education professionals working with children in care enjoyed an opportunity to share best practice and find out more about supporting young people into university at the 2014 Realise Insight Day.

“These days are really good. Each time you come to one you learn a little bit more."

Irene Smith, Foster Carer

Organised by the University of Cambridge’s Realise project for young people in care, and hosted by Newnham College, the Insight Day included an update on student finance, a session on careers, and a tour of the College’s accommodation and study facilities.

Realise aims to support young people in care to access Higher Education by providing taster days at the University of Cambridge, packed with advice, inspiration and support.

A typical Realise event includes academic-led sessions focusing on a particular subject area, an opportunity to explore the University, and age-appropriate talks about support for care leavers at university, student finance and careers. Student ambassadors– and if possible a care leaver - are also on hand throughout the day to discuss student life.

The Insight Day was created in recognition of the important role foster carers and other professionals play in providing advice and support to young people considering whether to stay in education.

“The adults in our lives can have a huge impact on us as we grow up,” explains Claire Gardner, who co-ordinates the Realise project at the University of Cambridge.

“Ensuring that professionals and carers have accurate, up-to-date information about higher education and the support available for care leavers, is crucial to young people in care considering university as a realistic option for them.”

Irene Smith attended as one of a group of foster carers from Essex. “We need to find out ourselves, because it’s changed so much recently,” Irene said. “The information about financial support was especially helpful. 

“It’s also been interesting to see the steps you take to apply through UCAS.

“These days are really good. Each time you come to one you learn a little bit more,” Irene added.

“The Insight Day gave participants the opportunity to shared their experiences of supporting children in care in their education, and the challenges that they faced,” Claire commented.

“Everyone worked together to suggest ways forward, and I feel really positive knowing that these professionals left the event feeling equipped with the information and skills necessary to support the young people in their care to succeed in their education, and aspire to attend university.”

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