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Preparing for & Managing The Change to College/Sixth Form

Here in the SUN, one of our aims is to help young people make the right decisions about their next steps in education. An important part of the programme is about helping young people to have a positive experience of moving from school (or from school leaving age of 16) into college or sixth form. For young people who are care-experienced, there can be (not always) additional factors that make this change hard. We wanted to understand what this looks like in real life in the hope of helping to improve this experience for future young people. So, we formed a consultation group with people who work closely with care-experienced students and co-produced a survey to help us find out more. This is a pilot project that we hope can be developed further in the future.

Who’s in the consultation group?

Helena Kelsey, Project Leader, Southern Universities Network

Kim Hill, Outreach Coordinator, University of Portsmouth
Kev Sadler, Project Officer, Southern Universities Network

portsmouth virtual school & foster carer

The Consultation Group also includes members of staff from The Portsmouth Virtual School (Portsmouth City Council) and a Foster Carer from the local area.

who else has helped?

university of portsmouth, outreach team

The University of Portsmouth’s Outreach and Widening Participation team are focused on increasing knowledge and awareness of higher education. They are particularly keen to break down barriers for groups that are under-represented in UK universities today. The team deliver workshops and events that are designed to give young people and their supporters an insight into university life, the type of subjects you could study and the pathways or careers it could lead to.

University of portsmouth, eric

Sophie Hall, Research Fellow in the Education Research, Innovation and Consultancy (ERIC) Unit, University of Portsmouth. Sophie is providing the Consultation Group advice throughout the project which we are incredibly grateful for!


Staff from the charity Become, including some of their Young Trainers, took part in focus groups to review the draft survey. Become’s Young Trainers are care-experienced and gave expert suggestions about things ranging from the topics we’re focusing on in the survey to the language we’re using. They even advised us on how to share the survey with care-experienced young people. In fact, it was their idea for us to create this webpage so that students who take part in the survey can see the results of the project!

SUN’s Evaluation and Impact Officer

Matt Hockings, the SUN’s Evaluation and Impact Officer helped us turn our survey digital! He converted our questions from a MS Word Document into the Jisc Online Survey version.

what’s happening right now?

Young people who work with the Portsmouth Virtual School, and who are in Year 12 (or equivalent) and studying at college or sixth form are currently completing the survey. It will close on Friday 16 June.

what happens next?

Once the survey has closed, the following will happen:

want to know more?

If you’re a young person who works with the Portsmouth Virtual School and have questions about this project or want to know more, you’re very welcome to speak to your Education Caseworker (Advocate). Alternatively you can email

For anyone else, email to find out more.