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Opinion - Care Experienced Week is a celebration of talent

Friday 25 October 2019

Reach the top and celebrate
Care Experienced Week takes place between Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 October 2019. James Dunphy, Director of the Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Access (DELTA) shares his thoughts on the week and how RGU supports its students.

Some of the most talented learners in our colleges and universities are care experienced. These students join us with a wealth of skills and determination and are rightly proud, as we are, of their achievements to date.

Care experienced week is a chance to reflect on how we, as organisations looking after care experienced students, act as ‘corporate parents’. It’s also a time to celebrate the talent and achievements of those who have experienced residential, foster or kinship care.

Everyone knows that good parents do much more than the basics to ensure that their child gets the individualised care and opportunities to achieve and enjoy a full and rewarding life. Society expects this from corporate parents too, and this is reflected in the aims of the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People Act 2014.

Like any student coming to college or university, care experienced students have already secured much success; their talent and commitment, together with the support of those around them, have enabled them to progress to the next stage of their learner journey. Like any parent, we should be alert to their needs, promote their interests and seek to provide opportunities that will help them to succeed in their studies and as individuals.

We’ve shown that this approach works at Robert Gordon University (RGU), where we continue to see the numbers of care experienced students grow. Indeed, RGU is the only post-92 university which has maintained a 100% success rate for care experienced students. This outcome is testament to the talents of these learners, combined with the efforts of our high-quality student support services.

Care leavers studying at RGU can count on 365 days of accommodation. They have a home with us no matter their cycle of studies. We offer a dedicated advisor for face to face support throughout the learning journey and access to a discretionary fund for financial support – for when life takes you by surprise.

These services are key to ensuring students feel supported as they navigate their studies; however, there is still much more work to do.

The Independent Care Review is helping Scotland to consider how it can do more and better for those with care experience. This review will have important implications for all parts of Scotland’s public sector, not just our colleges and universities, as we rise to the challenge of delivering a more inclusive and fairer Scotland.

RGU is proud to play its part in this endeavour and, as we do so, is committed to working in close partnership with our students to support and maximise their success.

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