Our Tick the Box campaign is a week of exciting online activity, taking part in Care Leavers Week, from 25 to 29 October 2021.
The campaign aims to encourage care experienced students to tick the box on their UCAS applications to say they have spent time in care when applying to higher education. By ticking the box, the colleges and universities students are applying to become aware that they are in care, or have spent time in care, ensuring they can get access to the support they are entitled to.
The week is all about raising awareness, but also celebrating the educational achievements of care experienced people, sharing their stories and the support they received from sharing their circumstances with the university or college - and the impact this had. Overall, we want to raise the aspirations of care experienced people to show that anything and everything is possible.
Why raise awareness?
The Fostering Network believes that too many care experienced young people are missing out on support, due to not knowing about how important it is to tick the box on their applications, and we want to change that.
The support available will be different at every college and university and can range from additional financial support in the form of a bursary, to practical support to help students settle in, find accommodation or manage finances. Some universities and colleges take care experience into account when making an offer. Although support varies, being aware of what each university or college offers, and having the option to access this support when you start your course, can be vital in making the transition to higher education.
The myths around ticking the box
We have also heard from care experienced people that they have been hesitant to tick the box, mainly because they are worried about who the information will be shared with.
But we want to reassure everyone that colleges and universities treat the information about care experience as confidential and do not label or negatively discriminate against a student because they have been looked after.
When a student ticks the box, this information is only be shared with the people who need to know – this is usually the student support team and sometimes the admissions team, but people such as coursemates and tutors won’t know.
You are in control when you tick the box, and you choose whether you want the support, and can change your mind at any time. Ticking the box gives you the option and it’s a great backup to have.
Elle explains why she ticked the box and what education means to her
“I did consider not ticking the box. I wanted a university to take me based on my experience and what I would 'bring to the table’ so to speak, not just accept me to make a good statistic. But my UCAS adviser and my foster parents advised me to be honest and that I’d be given help (help that I would need to succeed) and if I didn’t tick the box, I might not receive that. As far as I was concerned, I wanted my degree so badly that if I had to give up a little of my pride by ticking a box, then I would do that for something I had been dreaming about for a long time.
Education is an enabler. It’s something I don’t hear enough, and I want to hear more. Although experience and confidence are key, so is education and it's easy to lose that today when you can learn anything at the click of a keyboard. But I truly believe education can make such a difference in, not only your own life, but also other people’s.
I’d tell any care experienced student considering university, to go for it! Work hard, focus on something you really want to change – that is the thing that will make you work hardest because you’ll be passionate about it. You’ll know if it's right.”
Amazing stories like Elle’s show why it is so important to tick the box and most importantly, to dream big when thinking about higher education. Read Elle’s full blog on our website.