Care Leavers’ Summer School with Dorset Virtual School

As part of the ESF Skills for Young People programme in Dorset, Whitehead-Ross Education delivered a one-off targeted summer school in collaboration with Dorset Council’s Virtual School, which supports young people in care.

Over a 4 week period, the summer school was targeted at 9 young care leavers who would be leaving school to transition to college, or leaving foster care to live independently. Many of the young people faced confidence, self-esteem and anxiety issues, which made them nervous in new environments. This short course was organised to help increase their confidence by giving them the opportunity to meet new people, take part in activities they may have never tried before and the opportunity to gain a City and Guilds Level 1 Employability Skills qualification.

The course took place at Brenscombe Outdoor Activity Centre near Corfe Castle in Dorset. In addition to Whitehead-Ross Education’s Tutor, members of the Dorset Virtual School team were on hand to provide support to the young people throughout the course.  In the mornings, the young people attended classroom sessions where they developed their team building skills and learnt about money management and how to budget. The team building activities included planning and creating a spaghetti tower with marshmallows and building a self-supporting structure from newspaper and cellotape. The activities were fun and brought out a competitive element in many young people! They all cooperated well in their teams and completed the tasks to a high standard.

The money management part of the course gave the students the opportunity to think about how to budget, spend wisely and how to save money. The final classroom activity saw the students designing their own business, which allowed them to be both creative and enterprising.

In the afternoons the young people took part in outdoor activities, led by qualified instructors, such as archery, bushcraft, shooting and high ropes/low ropes. Everyone participated and learnt new skills and had a lot of fun.

Some of the feedback from the young people at the end of the course included:

  • ‘’10/10 helped me understand finances better’’
  • ‘’It was great fun. I would change nothing.’’
  • ‘’It was wicked. I liked the extent of the learning. It’s very good,’’
  • ‘’I liked meeting new friends.’’

The young people went on to progress into further education in September – such as vocational BTECs and A Levels at Weymouth College, Blandford School, and Bournemouth and Poole College.