The Foundation has awarded a major grant of £400,000 over the next four years to St Mary’s University, Twickenham towards the First Star Academy, to improve the educational outcomes of young people in care.
Emanating from the United States, First Star Academy brings an innovative, inclusive approach to improving access, participation and achievement in education for young people in foster care, where here in the UK only 6% of care leavers go on to attend university.
First Star St Mary’s will see a four-week residential academy taking place on the St Mary’s University campus with an initial intake from young people in care currently studying in Years 9 and 10. The cohort of young people will remain engaged in the programme for four years throughout their GCSE and A-level education. Alongside the summer academies each cohort will attend monthly Saturday academies throughout the rest of the year. The three core elements to the academy model is the support and development of academic skills, life and self-management skills and an exposure to Higher Education – where a sense of ownership and belonging is instilled.
The US model has demonstrated significant results with this novel intervention seeing over 90% of foster youth who attend a First Star academy going on to study at university, compared to the national US average of 3%. The First Star Academy at St Mary’s University is the first in the UK and the Foundation hopes its investment will facilitate a repeat of this impact and success.
Plans are in development to document the international knowledge transfer and establish an evidence base with the view to share and disseminate the learning and data garnered over the next four years with the Department for Education and other education providers.
The Foundation has a long, and proud, history of bringing young people from all backgrounds into education with a focus on support for those currently under represented in Further and Higher Education. Looked After Children and Care Leavers are a key focus for the Foundation going forward and we are delighted to have the Rt. Hon. Ruth Kelly, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at St Mary’s, delivering a thought-provoking exploration into the impact of education on the life chances of children in care at our 11th Annual Cass Lecture in November 2017.