This project is a pilot process evaluation of the Progress Mentor Programme at Birkenhead Sixth Form College and aims to better understand the implementation, process, mechanisms and how and why it works (or not) to support students.
The Progress Mentor Programme involves the assignment of full-time college-based college-based Progress Mentor (PM) to provide additional specialist pastoral support for young people with experience of children’s services. The PM role includes liaison with parents or carers, teachers and other support staff at the college (such as careers advisors and pastoral support workers), and stakeholders outside of the college including social workers and representatives of other external agencies that the student may be involved with. It is hoped that such a Programme will help young people with experience of children’s services overcome the barriers to success in Further Education and achieve better education, progression, wellbeing and housing stability outcomes.
Young people who have a social worker perform poorer on average than their peers at every stage of their education and face barriers to securing positive post-education destinations. The Progress Mentor Programme was established at BSFC in response to findings made in The DfE’s Children in Need Data Review (2019). The report highlighted that, in 2018, students who had a social worker in the year of their GCSEs were almost five times less likely to enter higher education (HE) at age 18 than their peers. By age 21, half of young people with a social worker had not yet achieved Level 2 qualifications (which include GCSEs), compared to 11% of those not involved with a social worker. The Birkenhead constituency (where BSFC is located) has high levels of deprivation compared with the North-West and England, with 40% of children and young people living in low-income households and 24% being eligible for free school meals as of Autumn 2020/21.
The evaluation will cover the 2021/22 academic year, when the College anticipates there will be approximately 40 young people within the Programme. The eligibility criteria has been defined as any young person aged 16-19 years who has or has had a social worker within the past six years.