Education, training and employment for young people leaving care

As corporate parents, we want you to succeed in your education, training and employment. We will ask you how you are doing and be ready to celebrate your achievements with you. We track your goals and targets through your Pathway Plan and our PAs will support you to achieve those within an appropriate timescale.


Wandsworth Virtual School

The Virtual School has responsibility for ensuring that all looked after children and care leavers aged 3 to 25 years are supported to achieve academic success, progress in their learning and have high aspirations.

We also provide advice and guidance to previously looked after children and professionals working with children in need. Our aim is to help all our looked after children and care leavers to access support so that you can achieve your academic potential and work towards your career goals.

Who is in the team?

Our team includes the Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher - Post 16s, Advisory Teachers, Education Co-ordinators, EET workers, an Educational Psychologist and a BusinessSupport Manager and Officer.

We also have dedicated Education, Employment and Training Officers (EET) who work directly with a cohort of care leavers aged 18-21 years to ensure they access support to enable them to secure positive education, employment or training outcomes

Did you know – we offer lots of exciting enrichment opportunities, so just get in touch! We also run Study Club every Tuesday evening and EET drop-in sessions every other Wednesday.

Levels of academic and vocational qualifications

Qualification types in the UK
Entry level Entry Level Awards, Certificates and Diplomas

Level 1

  • GCSEs (grades 3-1)
  • Level 1 Functional Skills
  • Level 1 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 2
  • GCSEs (grades 9-4)
  • Level 2 Functional Skills
  • Intermediate Apprenticeships
  • Level 2 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas
Level 3
  • A Levels
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Level 3 Awards, Certificates, Diplomas and T Levels

Level 4

  • Foundation Degrees
  • Higher Apprenticeship
  • Higher National Certificates (HNC)
  • Level 4 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas

Level 5

  • Foundation Degrees
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)
  • Level 5 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas

Level 6

  • University Degree Degree
  • Apprenticeship
  • Level 6 Awards, Certificates and Diplomas

Level 7

  • Masters
  • Integrated Master’s Degree
  • Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates
Level 8


  • Doctorate
  • PhD

South West London colleges and sixth forms

Most secondary schools in Wandsworth provide sixth form education. For students at a school without a sixth form, separate colleges in the borough are available.

You can also read about sixth forms and colleges for students with special educational needs.

Thinking about university?

This information and advice will help you think about applying for univeristy and advice and help when thinking about applying for university. Your Advisory Teacher, Education Co-ordinator or EET worker will discuss this pathway further with you. 

Is university for me?

University offers students the opportunity to apply for a broad range of degree programmes across a huge range of academic and vocational subject areas.

The top five benefits of studying at university:

  • In-depth learning in a subject or subjects of interest to you
  • A range of academic and transferable skills needed for your working life
  • Improved career opportunities
  • Higher starting salary in many sectors
  • Confidence about your independence and ability to create a range of social networks and friendships

How to apply for university

All applications to UK universities are made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).


To apply for a university course simply fill in a UCAS application form on the UCAS website. Make sure you explore the Propel website fully before you start and submit your application well before the deadline, particularly if you want to study at one of the top universities in the UK.

There are five steps to UCAS applications:

1. Registration

First and foremost, register your details with UCAS. This bit is straightforward; just make sure you input your details correctly.

2. Find a course

Possibly the most important stage; you'll need to identify a course you want to spend the next 3 or more years of your life committed to.

You can use the UCAS Course Chooser to search through over 100,000 courses.

Once you've found a course take a note of its unique UCAS code, you'll need this to fill out the application form.

3. Find a university

You’ve found the perfect course; now you need to make sure you study it at the right university; Advice on Choosing a University will help you come to the right decision. Think about more than just league table position – what about the location, the accommodation and the facilities?

Once you've made your shortlist of universities make a note of their unique UCAS codes.

4. Fill out the application form

One application form is used to apply for 5 different choices. You can apply to 5 different universities for the same course or 5 different courses at the same university, it's up to you.

Remember, you'll only have room for one personal statement to support your application. There is useful advice on the UCAS website about what you need to think about and include. You need to make sure your enthusiasm and interest in your chosen subject(s) comes across clearly.

5. Send and wait for replies

Universities will consider your application and should then reply to you with a conditional or unconditional offer if you meet their course entry criteria.

Aim Higher London

Aim Higher is a partnership between Wandsworth Virtual School and London universities. It aims to encourage and support looked after young people into the higher education sector. Each year it runs programmes, such as university taster visits, and a mentoring programme where care-experienced young people are matched with current university students to help them find out and decide on all things higher education. Contact the Virtual School for more details.

You can access the members' area on the Aim Higher website using these login details:

  • Username: wandsworth
  • Password: wvx20-ah-vc


Propel is a fully searchable website for care leavers providing information on the support available to you at colleges and universities across the UK.

Find out:

  • Whether 365 day accommodation is available
  • What bursaries and grants are on offer
  • The help and support care leavers can expect
  • The contact details of the person who supports Care Leavers at each university

Propel also has loads of other useful info, like an overview of student funding, specific advice for care leavers and inspirational stories from care-experienced students about their experience of university life and studies.

Propel contact details:

University funding and finance

You must apply for a Tuition Fees Loan which pays for your course fees and is repayable at the end of the course. This money goes directly to the university.

At the same time, you will apply for a Student Maintenance Loan which is also repayable at the end of the course. Repayment is based on earnings and not level of debt. You only start paying off the loans once you are earning over £26,575 a year.

Funding available to full-time students (2021 to 2022 academic year)
Type of funding Amount of funding available 
Living away from home, studying outside London

Up to £9,448

Living away from home, studying in London Up to £12,382
Parents’ Learning Allowance  Up to £1,821
Adult Dependants' Grant Up to £3,190
Disabled Student's Allowance (General Allowance) Up to £1,954
Childcare Grant

Up to £172.22 a week (1 child)

Up to £298.69 a week (2 or more children)

Support for care leavers

Wandsworth gives each Care Leaver a higher education bursary of £2,000 spread over the time you are at university. The bursary is paid into your bank account in instalments.

Applying for university: Key dates

One year before you want to start your university course
When What


Your application

When should I start applying for university? You can start applying through UCAS from 5 September. To give your application the best chance, you should apply by 15 January. This is the UCAS application deadline for most students. Check if your school or college has an earlier deadline.


Applying for Oxford and Cambridge

Applications’ deadline for any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry.

October - November

Visit universities and find out more

Open days are a great way to find out about the campus where you will be studying and the local area. You will also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and have a chance to talk to staff and current students.


Your application

You should submit your UCAS application by 15 January to meet the UK university application deadline.


Apply for student funding

To ensure that you receive funding in good time, make sure you apply early for your student funding. You do not need to wait until you have been offered a place on a course to apply for funding.


Think about accommodation

All eligible students are guaranteed an offer of university accommodation. Once you have accepted your offer, the university will be touch about your accommodation options. Applications for university accommodation open in early March.


UCAS Extra

If you have used all five choices on UCAS and you're not holding any offers, you can add more choices through UCAS Extra from February to June. If you have not already applied through UCAS, you can start a new application or apply direct to the university.



Decide on your first and second choice offers

In April and May you will have to make your first (firm) and second (insurance) choice of course and university and confirm it with UCAS. For most of you the deadline for this will be 5 May.


University decision of offer

If you applied by mid-January and you’re still awaiting a decision from one of your choices, unis/colleges have until now to decide whether they’re making you an offer. If you have not heard, you are unlikely to be offered a place but do call the university to check.

4 July

Last date for applications through UCAS Extra.

5 July

Clearing Opens

Entry Clearing opens. Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.


Get your exam results

If you are studying for a BTEC or IB qualification, you may get your results in July. Make sure you let the university know about your results when you get them.


Apply through Clearing

If you are still looking for a university place, you can talk to universities about Clearing options.


Confirm your accommodation

Once you have your results and your place is confirmed, you can confirm your accommodation with the university.


Looking for a place to live

If you are planning on finding your own accommodation get in touch with the Accommodation Service. Universities manage a database of properties offered by landlords who meet their code of standards.

Academic year you start at university
When What

Check when your course starts and your timetable

Use your new student portal to find out where you need to be during the first week of your course and when that is. Check course reading and materials lists too.


Make the most of the welcome programme

The welcome programme is the first week of the autumn term. You will complete your in-person enrolment, attend university and course induction activities and enjoy the events the university and the Students' Union put on for new students.

University for asylum seekers and refugees

The financial help available and tuition fees you need to pay will depend on your immigration status and where you live (your residential status). Course providers charge different tuition fees for different categories of students, so make sure you enter the correct status on your application. There are two main rates of fee: ‘home status’ and ‘overseas status’.

You are eligible for student finance if your immigration status is either:

  • Refugee status
  • You are on a family reunion visa

If your immigration status is Humanitarian Protection or Indefinite Leave to Remain without refugee status you are eligible but you have to have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years before you can apply for student finance.

If your application for asylum is still processing and you are an asylum seeker, then you do not qualify for student finance. However, there are some organisations who can help – see below. Whatever your status, talk to your Advisory teacher or EET worker as we will help you.

For further information and support

Refugee Education UK offers support services to help you overcome any challenges you may face, along with useful resources. Its 'Thinking Ahead to Higher Education Toolkit' and frequently asked questions are great starting points for refugees and asylum seekers considering applying to university.

Student Action for Refugees (STAR) works to create scholarships for refugees in higher education. There is a list of all scholarships available in the UK on its website.

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) can help you understand more about tuition fee status in different parts of the UK, as well as other issues related to immigration and education.

Graduates - Wandsworth Graduate Scheme

Wandsworth Council Graduate Development Programme is dynamic and collaborative, and you can expect to work with many different groups and teams - from consulting with residents to working in partnership with other organisations.


Throughout the programme you will take on real responsibilities in at least four different placements in key areas of the council’s work. Placements will be based in both boroughs in one of the six Directorates. This will give you the chance to experience a range of different challenges and deepen your skills through a wide variety of work and projects.


You will have regular access to a supervisor who will support your development throughout the scheme. In addition to a supervisor you will have access to our mentoring scheme where you can choose a senior mentor to help you understand how best to achieve your goals, develop contacts and plan your own development. You will also join a wider community of graduates and will be paired up with a ‘buddy’. Your buddy will have first-hand experience of being on the scheme and will provide you with support and advice.

Training and Development

You will take part in several activities that are designed to help you to develop the skills, knowledge and experience you need to launch your career. Activities include shadowing opportunities, Q&As with senior managers and leading councillors, organising and assisting at council events, working during elections and many more.

You will take part in an innovative, bespoke training programme which includes areas such as presentation skills, project management and management skills.

Apprenticeships, internships, training, and employment

A number of apprenticeships, internships, training and employment opportunities are available to care leavers in Wandsworth.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are where you work for an organisation whilst studying towards a qualification – and you get paid!

Young people have the chance to work alongside experienced staff and gain skills unique to the workplace, as well as an increasingly well-respected qualification, over a period of one to four years.

Apprenticeships require a minimum of 30 hours per week in employment, alongside classroom-based learning to achieve the transferable skills (English, Maths and ICT where applicable) and core qualification components of the apprenticeship.

How much do you get paid?

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a wage. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £4.15 per hour.

This rate applies if you’re under 19, or if you’re aged 19 or over and are in your first year. You must be paid the national minimum wage for your age if you’re an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed your first year.

The national minimum wage is currently set at £6.45 for 18 to 20 year olds, £8.20 for 21 to 24 year-olds and £8.72 for those aged 25 and over.

Young people in their first year of an apprenticeship will also be supported to claim the maximum bursaries and grants to support their income.

What types of qualifications can I work towards?

Qualifications can include:

  • Functional skills - GCSE level qualifications in English, Maths and IT.
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) - from Level 2 (comparable to five GCSEs) up to Level 5.
  • Academic qualifications - including a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND), foundation degree or the equivalent of a full bachelor’s degree.

If I am a Care Leaver, will it affect my benefits?

This will depend on your salary and current level of benefits. Speak to your job coach at the Job Centre about this.

As you are still classified as a student you will be entitled to a discounted Oyster card and you will receive the same employee benefits as your colleagues e.g. discounted gym membership, annual leave entitlement, access to training and development opportunities. 

What apprenticeship opportunities does Wandsworth Council offer?

Wandsworth Council offer a range of apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities. For more information, visit the Wandsworth Lifelong Learning website and speak to your Virtual School advisor or EET worker who can explore other apprenticeship opportunities with you.

What is a traineeship?

A traineeship is a programme which incorporates work experience, training and personal development to help young people get ready for working life.

Designed for people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience, traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment.

A traineeship has three core elements:

  • A high-quality work experience placement with an employer
  • Work preparation training, provided by the training organisation
  • English and maths support, if required, provided by the training organisation

Traineeships can last from 6 weeks to 6 months with the content tailored to the needs of the business and the individual. Employers are not required to pay trainees for the work placement and traineeships are exempt from the Minimum Wage.

What is an internship?

An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, lasting for a fixed time anywhere between a week and 12 months.

They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills. Internships can last a week during the summer holidays to a year depending on the sector and employer. Student internships tend to be shorter in length than graduate ones.

Employers use these placements to assess a student’s or graduate’s capability and often recruit employees from their interns, rather than advertise their vacancies externally. You should therefore apply for an internship in an area you are interested in pursuing as a career.

People often confuse internships and work placements, but the two types of experience are different. While internships are usually undertaken over the summer months or after graduation to gain experience in a field, work placements, also known as a year-in-industry or placement year, are taken as part of a degree.

Students on a placement year are completing a module and receive academic credit for the year.

Training and employment

Employability and personal development courses are aimed at young people who may need to enhance these skills and further explore their area of interest prior to applying for work or an apprenticeship. See below some organisations that can support you.

Top 10 qualities and skills employers are looking for:

  • Good personal presentation (dress the part, do your hair, watch your body language).
  • Communication skills
  • A positive attitude (a can-do approach)
  • Personal organisation and timekeeping
  • Integrity and honesty
  • Team working
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Managing multiple priorities and adaptability
  • IT skills and digital literacy
  • Eager and willing to learn

Wandsworth Lifelong Learning

Wandsworth Council’s Lifelong Learning service (WCLL) is part of the Council’s Children’s Services Department.

It is responsible for a wide range of Lifelong Learning activities and courses across the borough continuing to increase its focus on those who are most disadvantaged to improve their access to learning and employment.

WCLL’s main functions are to deliver:

  • An extensive programme of part-time Community Learning (including Family Learning) courses
  • Apprenticeships to young people and adults
  • Accredited courses through an Adult Skills Budget – English, Maths, ESOL and Employability programmes
  • Work experience and preparation for employment

Full Potential Programme - Work experience

Wandsworth Virtual School offers young people high-quality work experience, information, advice and guidance (IAG) through its ‘Full Potential’ partnership project, delivered by Lifelong Learning, which has a London-wide network of 5,000 employers across all sectors.

Alongside your Advisory Teacher or EET worker, their staff team can help you try out different sectors, choose a career and prepare for working life.

Full Potential also gives you the opportunity to develop your personal & professional networks for the future.

For more information, speak to your Virtual School advisory teacher, PA or EET worker.


Anyone can volunteer. It can be very rewarding and is a great way to meet new people, gain new or use existing skills, get experience and make a big difference to your community.

There are lots of easy ways to give your time to help others – from having a cup of tea with an elderly neighbour to helping in your local area or making a regular commitment to volunteer with a charity or community group.

Part-time work

It might be worth thinking about a part-time job if you want to bring in some extra money. It can also bolster your CV and provide a means to transition to a new career.

Think about the type of job you’re looking for, where you want to work, and on the flexibility of your schedule to accommodate hours of work.

Money Matters

Financial independence is important and as you progress through your studies, training or employment, you will begin to experience a greater sense of independence.

It is a good idea to start saving some money, whether towards a holiday, first car or eventually, buying a house!

As a young person, it is important you have support to make sure you can travel to college, 6th form, training or your workplace. You will need to plan everything from lunches to work clothes with the support of your social worker or PA. We are all here to help! We are committed to doing everything we can to enable you to work towards your aspirations.

Free and discounted travel

London borough resident young people aged 16-18 in full time education (over 12 hours) may qualify for a 16+ Oyster Card which entitles them to free bus and tram transport within London. 18+ students and apprentices can apply for an 18+ Oyster Card which enables them to qualify for 30% reduction on some fares and tickets.

Jobcentre Plus travel discount

Those on Universal Credit, aged between 18-24 and unemployed for 13-39 weeks can get 50% off pay as you go adult fares to travel on bus, tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail. This is valid for three months.

16 to 19 bursary

Sixth form schools, colleges and further education colleges must support their learners. A bursary is money that you, or your education or training provider, can use to pay for things like clothing, books and other equipment for your course and transport and lunch on days you study or train. Your attendance will need to be 95% to receive your bursary.

Discretionary bursary

Students aged 19 or over are only eligible to receive a discretionary bursary if they are continuing on a study programme they began aged 16 to 18 (‘19+ continuers’) or have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Advanced learner loans

These are loans for students aged 19 or over studying for A-levels, general and vocational qualifications at Level 3 or above and Access to Higher Education diplomas. The minimum loan amount is £300, and you won’t need to start paying it back until you’ve started earning over £25,725 a year.

Care to Learn

The Care to Learn scheme offers financial help with childcare and travel costs to parents under the age of 20 so that they can get back into studying or gain qualifications. Care to Learn offers financial help with any kind of study or learning, if it is publicly funded.

Smart Works

Smart Works provides free interview appropriate clothing and training to women who have a confirmed interview for a paid position. Clients will receive a complete outfit of high-quality clothes and accessories along with a one-to-one interview preparation and coaching session. Based in North and West London.

Suited and Booted

Suited & Booted is a charity that helps vulnerable, unemployed and low-income men into employment by providing interview clothing (suit, shirt and tie, and accessories) and offer clients interview advice and mentoring.

Prince's Trust - Development Awards

Development Awards offers grants of up to £500 to assist young people aged 14-25 with getting into education, training or employment. Examples of support include grants for equipment, clothing, travel costs, fees (including licence fees) or childcare costs.

Buttle U

Buttle UK can provide financial help to young people who receive no support from their parents or guardians so that they can further their education or employment.

To apply the young person must have a clear education, training or employment goal that they are pursuing or intend to pursue within three months of their application. Each package of support can be worth up to £2,000.

The Capstone Care Leavers Trust (CCLT)

The CCLT awards grants to people aged 17 to 25 years who have been in Local Authority Care in England or Wales and are in need. The CCLT also offers advice and guidance to young people to help reduce their experience of social exclusion and enhance their life chances.

The Spark Foundation

A charity in England and Wales for young people who are, or were, in care. They offer grants so you can have the same chances as everyone else.

Self-employment opportunities

Prince's Trust

The Prince's Trust helps young people aged 16 – 30 who want to set up their own business. Their Enterprise programme is for those who want to start their own business, including funding opportunities and up to 2 years mentoring support. When you join the programme, you'll benefit from the skills, training and mentoring to make your business a success – along with the chance to apply for a low-interest loan up to £5,000.

Prince's Trust contact details:

  • Telephone: 0800 842 842

New Enterprise Allowance (NEA)

The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) aims to help unemployed people start their own businesses. Support includes access to a volunteer business mentor to provide guidance, helping you develop a business plan and advising you through the early months of trading.

You need to be receiving certain benefits and have a business idea that could work.

Speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach – they will explain how NEA could help you.

Business Launchpad

Starting your own business is a challenge, whatever age you are. However, more and more young people are creating their own start-ups and becoming young entrepreneurs. In fact, the average age of people starting their own business is declining. That means if you’re young and thinking of turning an idea into a business reality you’re not alone!

Business Launchpad support young people aged 16 to 30 living in London who have a business idea or are already running their own organisation. They provide free business workshops and coaching to help you start and grow your business, developing your entrepreneurial thinking and skill set. Their team specialise in working with you one to one, focusing on your strengths and taking action to get your business moving.

Business Launchpad contact details:

Your voice matters

We want you to be able to take an active part in making the decisions which will affect you as you move to independent living. There are lots of ways you will already be involved in planning for what you want to do and achieve.

As you think about your aims for the next stage of your life you may want to share experiences and help shape the way we provide services for other care experienced young people.

Click and Click Plus (Children Living in Care Kouncil)

CLICK is a group of young people aged 13-25 who are looked after by Wandsworth Council. They represent and speak up on behalf of children looked after to make a difference, positively influence decision making and shape the services they receive. Getting involved in CLICK gives you opportunities to run projects on key issues that affect Care Leavers. You may be involved in activities such as organising events, talking to Councillors and Senior Management about how to improve services, interviewing and selecting staff who work with children looked after and care leavers and residential trips.

Coram Voice

Coram Voice enables and equips children and young people to hold to account the services that are responsible for their care. Coram Voice offer direct support through a free national helpline and face-to-face meetings. Specialist advocates offer expertise on more complex topics, including problems faced by care leavers, unaccompanied refugees, and those with disabilities or mental health issues.

New Belongings Programme

New Belongings is a partnership between Wandsworth Future First and Coram Voice which aims to improve outcomes for care leavers by involving them in the delivery of their service. This participation project includes consultation, care leaver forum and enrichment activities.

Become Charity

Become supports young people in care and care leavers through their engagement programme and provide support and advice for foster carers, local authorities and other professionals working with young people. They also produce a range of factsheets and magazines.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau provides free confidential advice and information to support people resolve their legal, financial issues and other problems.

  • Address: Battersea Library, 265 Lavender Hill, SW11 1JB
  • Telephone: 0300 330 1169
  • Website: Citizens Advice

The Gap LGBTQ+ Youth Club

The GAP Youth Club offers a safe, social space for LGBTQ+ young people to meet up, providing access to group activities, workshops and one-to-one support and advice.

Just For Kids Law

Just For Kids Law work with and for young people to ensure their legal rights are respected and promoted, and their voices heard and valued.

National Youth Advocacy Service

National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) is a UK charity providing socio-legal services through teams of advocates and lawyers. NYAS offers information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults throughout England and Wales.

Leisure centres and libraries in Wandsworth

We are passionate about helping you stay physically active and emotionally engaged in fitness, sport and wellbeing.

Leisure centres in Wandsworth

Positive, physical, and mental health are really important. Moving our body helps to improve overall physical well-being, but is also linked to positive mental well-being. Being physically active is not just about going to the gym or taking part in sport, it can include a huge range of different activities – it’s about moving more, whether that is going for a walk, cycling, yoga or dancing!

Research tells us that exercise helps improve our mental health in lots of ways including:

  • Better sleep – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day
  • Happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
  • Managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts – doing something physical helps to reduce stress by releasing cortisol (the 'stress' hormone). Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times

Find your local leisure centre

Libraries in Wandsworth

Libraries are important cornerstones of a healthy community. They are a free source of knowledge and information, giving people the opportunity to find books for leisure and learning as well as a range of other resources. Many libraries offer community activities such as ESOL or reading clubs.

Find your local library