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Employment, Education & Training



We want to make sure every young person leaving care has the support to achieve their goals in life. We want you to be successful and have the job that you would like to have in the future.

We will do everything we can to help you succeed in education, supporting you in school, encouraging you to take exams and helping you plan for the future. If you are in education we will provide you with a laptop, and other things, such as a CD drive or additional software if you need these for your course.

If you are a young person seeking asylum, when you first arrive in the UK we will arrange an initial assessment of your literacy and numeracy levels and get you into education as soon as possible. If this is delayed, perhaps because of school/college holidays, then you will receive some tutoring to help you get started. We will also provide you with a dictionary to help with translation.

Everyone has the chance to attend and help organise events that celebrate young people’s achievements in education, training and employment.



Virtual School.

The Virtual School provides educational support to looked after young people until they are eighteen or complete Year 13. They are important in ensuring that young people get maximum benefit from education and will encourage you to think about education, as well as employment, options as you leave care.

They work closely with post-16 education providers (sixth forms, colleges, etc) and continue to be involved in Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings. They will help ensure young people living in supported accommodation have the equipment they need for their courses.

The Virtual School will encourage and support care leavers to apply for further and higher education courses and, if your grades were not quite as good as you hoped or needed, help you identify alternative courses or career options. Speak to your Personal Advisor for more information.



Careers advice.

There is a dedicated worker in the Council who will assist you if you are not in education, employment or training to get back on track with the things you want to do.

Also, your Personal Advisor or Social Worker will be able to offer you careers information and advice and help you find out about jobs and training that interest you.



Continuing in education.

If you are continuing in education, you would have a named source of support in your college or sixth form. This will include a tutor and/or a ‘progress coach’. There is a named person responsible for all looked after children and care leavers within each college/sixth form, and also a governor with lead responsibility in this area.

We offer training to providers of post-16 education so that they understand the best ways to support looked after children and care leavers.

The Council’s ‘Virtual School’ continues to support young people up to eighteen and you would have a named worker to contact for support should you need it. If you are living independently we will ensure you have some stationery - folder, pens, paper, etc – and any particular equipment you might need for the start of the academic year.

Your progress would still be monitored through Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings in years 12 and 13 and by termly/twice yearly reviews in year 14 onwards. You will be able to say what you like or don’t enjoy about your course and be involved in setting targets and making plans for the future. If you have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) this will continue to be reviewed annually and your Social Worker/Personal Adviser and/or Virtual School worker will attend this meeting to support you.

Your PEP or EHCP review may suggest that you would benefit from a laptop and this will be obtained by either the Virtual School worker or your Social Worker. If you are over 18 and in, or about to start, full time education your Personal Adviser can request a laptop following a meeting and discussion with the Post 18 Virtual School Worker.

If you attend a basic skills training provider such as NOVA, NACRO or TCHC you will have termly PEP meetings. The training provider will support you through a bursary and may offer additional support such as breakfast and reward vouchers. They will also help with travel costs. 

If you are a year 14 learner you should still be eligible for a college travel pass. If you are over 19, your college may be able to help you with the cost of travel through the 19-plus Bursary. 




If you are working and expecting a baby you have the right to time off to attend ante-natal appointments and you cannot be dismissed due to your pregnancy. You can choose when your maternity leave begins any time after you are 29 weeks pregnant (11 weeks before your due date). Your employer will be expected to keep your job open for you to return after your maternity leave.

To check out your rights look at

If you are at college and your baby is due before the end of the course talk to your tutors. They may be able to enter you for a lesser qualification, for example a certificate rather than a diploma, or help you complete a number of modules so that you can return to your studies at a later date.

Young Parents

If you are caring for your own child or children and you are under 20, then the Care to Learn Scheme can help you fund childcare while you are studying.

For more information visit



Young People Seeking Asylum

Once your written and spoken English is of a high enough standard you may be able to progress on to a Vocational course at college. For example, you could learn a trade in a field such as construction, engineering or catering or you could do further academic study such as qualifications in business studies, ICT or sport studies. All vocational courses include studying literacy and numeracy until you have a grade 4 GCSE or equivalent qualification.

You generally need to apply for a vocational course around April/May time to secure a place for the following September. Ask your Personal Adviser for more information.

If you have the right of permanent residence you will be eligible to financial support for a university course in England as outlined in the Higher Education section.



Further Education

The more qualifications you have the better your long term chances of being in regular employment and the higher your earnings are likely to be. It is a government requirement that learners under the age of 19 who have not achieved GCSE grade 9 - 4 in English and/or Maths must continue with these subjects alongside their vocational studies.

The majority of Care Leavers go into further education and we will actively support you in going to college. You will continue to have PEP meetings to support you in your studies until the end of year 13 and reviews in year 14. In addition, the Virtual School will continue to liaise with college or Sixth Form on your behalf.

If you are under 19 on the 31st August in the year in which you start your course you would not have to pay course fees. If you are asked for enrolment fees or monies for kit for your course please speak to your Social Worker or Personal Adviser as soon as possible. 

If you are aged 19 and over then you don’t normally have to pay fees for your first Level 1 or Level 2 qualification. You should discuss fees and what concessions are available with the college you are interested in attending and contact the Virtual School Post 18 worker for advice:

16-19 Bursary and financial support. Care leavers who meet the residency criteria (what are these?) may be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £1200 per year. To be eligible you need to be under the age of 19 on the 31st August of the academic year in which you start your course. Payment of the bursary is dependent upon attendance at college and may be paid ‘in kind’, for example through lunch vouchers or a bus pass.

There is also a further education allowance available for specific course resources, such as equipment, clothing or a bike. However, it is expected that the 16–19 Bursary is used for this and the allowance from the local authority would top it up if necessary.



Higher Education/University.

We will help you attend Higher Education residential trips and also events specifically for looked after children and care leavers.

You could attend one of our Higher Education taster days for LAC and Care Leavers. For more information contact Rebecca McCallum 18-25 Lead Cambridgeshire Virtual School or telephone 01480 379429

For more information on going to university look at the following websites:   Website/forum for potential and current students with group chat and advice on revision, etc. Generic website with details of different universities, course finding information and advice on writing personal statements and student finance. National organisation through which applications are processed. The website included information and services for prospective students including a ‘choosing your course’ section and specific pages for care leavers. Website specifically for care leavers applying to, and in, higher education. Profiles the support available from individual universities.

We can support you with your applications to university (UCAS) and for student finance. We will cover the cost of travel to open days/interviews/auditions/applicant days if your post-16 education provider is unable to do this.


You need to complete your application via the UCAS system. Applications can be submitted anytime from the September of the year before you wish to commence your course up to the 15th January deadline. You have five choices. Your school or college will help you with the application process and writing the all-important “personal statement”. Even if you have left your school or college, they should be able to assist you and will need to provide some of the information. The UCAS application fee can be paid for you - ask your Personal Adviser for details.

If you would like to attend an open day or applicants day at a particular university, check if your school or college will cover the travel costs. If they are unable to assist, ask your Personal Adviser as assistance may be available.

Student Finance

Details of our support for university students is provided in our Higher Education Guide for Care Leavers and you will be given a copy of this booklet prior to commencing your degree. We will provide you with a Higher Education Bursary and support you to access any monetary and practical/emotional support that your chosen university provides specifically for care leavers.

You will be have access to the Higher education bursary up to and including the academic year in which you turn 25 on a pro rata basis. Meaning that those over 25, even if part way through their course, will not have access to the bursary. There is an entitlement to three years of Higher Education bursary. We will provide you with an additional year of bursary if your course includes a foundation year or a compulsory work experience (unpaid) element. If you repeat a year or choose to undertake a work experience placement/study abroad option you can request an additional year of funding. To begin this process you will need to talk to your Personal Advisor. Only in exceptionally circumstances will we fund a 5th year of undergraduate study.  It is a condition of receiving the bursary that you keep in contact with your social worker/Personal Adviser.

To find out more about student finance visit

For more information on the support available to care leavers in Higher Education please ask for a copy of our Higher Education Guide for Cambridgeshire Care Leavers



A Traineeship is a 12 week programme for 16-24 year olds which combines study of English and Maths with high quality work experience with an employer. A Traineeship is for young people who don’t have much work experience and is intended to lead on to an apprenticeship or full time employment. They are offered by specialist training providers or through local colleges.

As with a full time college course, you should be able to claim benefits and may be eligible for the 16 -19 Bursary while you are on a training programme.



This is a great way to learn a job whilst being paid. If you follow this route you will be supported to access the £1,000 looked after child/care leaver bursary for new apprentices. This is funded by the government and paid through the provider.

If your Apprenticeship is arranged through a college you will still have Personal Education Plan (PEP) and/or Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) meetings to discuss your progress.

It is important to ensure that, by undertaking an apprenticeship, you will not be financially disadvantaged, so we will do an assessment of your outgoings and may offer help towards your rent, council tax, equipment-related expenses, etc.

If you are interested in finding an Apprenticeships you need to register with the apprenticeship service through the website. Many apprenticeships include one day a week at college, others will be completed entirely in the work place. Getting an apprenticeship can be quite competitive with many applicants for each available place. There are 4 levels - Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree level.

Intermediate apprenticeships usually require grade 4 in GSCE English and Maths and may prefer applicants who have completed a relevant vocational qualification such as hairdressing, construction, catering, etc. 

Advanced level apprenticeships typically require 5 or more GCSEs at grade 9-4 and many applicants will already have a Level 3 qualification. For example, a Level 3 Business Studies qualification might help someone gain an accounting apprenticeship.

If you would like to find out more then have a look at the Amazing Apprenticeships website, or you can search for apprenticeship opportunities here.




If you are job hunting then you can get face-to-face advice and support from the Virtual School post-18 Education, Training and Employment worker. Your Personal Adviser can make a referral for you or you can email

For advice on job hunting and to find local vacancies suitable for young people look at  the Cambridgeshire website for young people.

If you live elsewhere the Virtual School has links with neighbouring authorities and can link you in with local sources of support.

Job Centre. Universal job match is the DWP website for job hunting and you will be expected to use this for your job search if you are on certain benefits. Your Job Centre work coach will set you up with a log-in and show you how to apply for jobs through the site.

Recruitment/temp agencies. An online search will bring up the big national recruitment agencies such as “Indeed”, “Reed” and “Monster jobs”. While it is a good idea to register with some of these, they can give a misleading impression of what is available as they often cover a wide geographical area and many job adverts stay on these sites for long periods of time. You should also consider registering with some local high street agencies. Try and find ones that specialise in the kind of work you want such as care work, business administration or industrial opportunities.




There are many opportunities throughout Cambridgeshire to volunteer and gain valuable life skills and experience. This can be very rewarding and the skills and experience you pick up can make you much more employable and help you get a job in the future. Even if it is only a few hours a month it is still worth doing.

Opportunities can be found through:



Not in education, employment or training.

If you are not currently in education, employment or training, we will assist you in working out what would be the best thing for you to try for. This might involve helping you develop the skills or confidence you need to succeed with an application. We will also:

  • Ensure that you have the means and support to seek employment effectively and will provide you with a Job Hunting Pack

  • Let you know about, and support you to apply for, training opportunities, such as those provided by the Princes Trust.

  • Arrange for you to have an account with the Youthoria website and register with the apprenticeship website if appropriate

  • Ensure that the Department of Work & Pensions know that you are a Care Leaver where you are claiming benefits and this might affect your entitlement or the support available. We can also liaise with them on your behalf if this would be helpful

  • Liaise with the local job centres to ensure that you are offered appropriate training and job opportunities



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