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Miscellaneous and useful links

‘Higher Education on Hold’

A recent event was held by the Centre for Education and Youth centering on access to HE for those with unresolved immigration status.

You can read and download the full report here
and the recording of the event can be found here –   watch the recording   of the event on the Centre’s  Youtube channel.

You can share information about the report and event by using the hashtag #HEonHold.

With thanks to Lidia Dancu from Open University in Scotland for forwarding me information about this.

Universities of Sanctuary Resource Pack

About the Universities of Sanctuary, how to become a University of Sanctuary, including case studies, useful links and websites.

Information for Volunteers

Volunteer Scotland has a daily Radio V podcasts on all matter volunteering and learning.

Keeping Volunteers Safe: Restarting your Volunteer Programme this 10 hour course covers the key considerations to ensure a positive experience for those returning to volunteering following COVID-19. It’s hosted on OpenLearn Create as part of the OU’s Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership collection and you can gain a certificate of participation and digital badge participation on completion of the course. More information about Volunteer Scotland’s online learning here.

Information to support Care Experienced and Estranged Students

Carers Trust Scotland have produced a video with BBC Scotland called Things You Should Know About Young Carers (1 minute) featuring young people talking about what their caring role involves.

Student Finance, Research, Campaigns

Stand Alone summer update

Campaign for financial support for estranged and care-experienced students and graduates without family support

Stand Alone has been working in collaboration with a number of charities to raise awareness of the impact of Covid 19 on higher education students without parental / family support and to lobby governments for additional financial support for these students.

We published a survey at the start of lockdown on the challenges these students were facing due to Covid 19. We have written about the issue in the press, have taken part in Scottish Government consultations and are in discussions with the DfE and Welsh Government.

Our most recent ‘summer hardship’ survey report will be published shortly alongside an open letter from an estranged student.

Applying to SAAS: Financial Support for Estranged Scottish Students

Applicants need to let SAAS know that they are estranged from parents when applying for support.

A student is eligible to be considered for independence on the basis of being estranged if:
• they are not in contact with both their parents and
• there’s been a permanent breakdown in the relationship, and there is no sign of this being resolved in the future

Applicants are sent the Evidence of Estrangement form, and they return the completed form using the ‘Document Upload’ service in their SAAS Account. The form must be endorsed by a professional person who knows the student’s circumstances, such as: teacher / doctor / counsellor / college or university student advisor / lawyer / solicitor / police officer / family mediation worker / social worker / etc.

If the student doesn’t have a professional person to confirm they are estranged then they should still complete the estranged evidence form and explain why this is the case in section B. SAAS will contact them if they need any further information.

SAAS case workers assess all applications from estranged students on a case-by-case basis. If any further information is required when processing an application for estrangement SAAS will contact the student directly.

You can find information about the Student Information Scotland website here

Student Finance England ‘Estrangement Form 20/21’: Advice and best practice

Practitioners feedback since the form’s inception has been very positive as it gives step by step guidance to supporting those students without any suitable evidence and an opportunity to request a SFE caseworker should a further discussion be needed and a future telephone interview.

In the past some staff in institutions have been reluctant to sign the form as they felt they were confirming a certain situation was true.

Staff now no longer need to known the student for any length of time to sign the new form, therefore removing a major barrier to proving estrangement. The new form specifically directs students without evidence to student services as in many cases staff may either know their circumstances and be able to confirm them or alternatively, can suggest sources of evidence that can confirm their situation and would be acceptable. If you are not able to sign the form though, you should send it to SFE with an email explaining why and ask for the student to be referred to a case worker.

It is also important to note that the form is not a compulsory part of the estrangement process and evidence will continue to be accepted as it has been in a variety of formats.

Please bear in mind when speaking to a student about the form to be aware of the potential sensitivity of individual student’s circumstances and the potentially traumatic experiences that have led to a breakdown in the relationship with their parents and often also their wider family. Conversations should be conducted with care and confidentiality and not probe into details of student’s personal experiences and their estrangement.

House keeping: The new Form was released in Jan 2020. Please delete the old version and familiarise yourself with the new version.

Click here for the new form on the SFE webpage

You may also find the SLC Funding Information Team monthly bulletin useful which you can access via this webpage, and where you can also post feedback:

A guide to help estranged students write their personal statement
Stand Alone has worked with UCAS to produce guidance for estranged students on how to write their personal statement. A group of estranged students compiled a set of unique skills and positive personal strengths these students may have developed as a result of their experiences.

Click on the UCAS website here for more information

New Stand Alone research report: Family Estrangement and the Covid 19 Crisis

This survey set out to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on estranged family relationships.

This research was conducted by Dr Lucy Blake at Edge Hill University, Dr Becca Bland at Stand Alone, and Dr Sarah Foley and Dr Susan Imrie at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge.

Click here to read the Stand Alone Report: Family Estrangement and the Covid 19 crisis.

The Stand Alone Pledge

Emerging from lockdown and planning for a restructured delivery of the new academic year provides higher education institutions with a unique opportunity to fully address the different needs of a diverse student body.

So this is also a time to sign the Stand Alone Pledge or use your Pledge to shape the support for estranged students to ensure their needs are recognised and they feel part of their university community.

Click on the Pledge logo to link to the Pledge website

Covid-19 Survey – Summary of resources

Following the SCAPP survey on responses and challenges of Covid-19 which was distributed in May, please find the link below for the summary of the responses. There are key points and actions on page one, followed by an executive summary of the main points under themes, then followed by responses per question for those readers who wish to see the full set of responses.

I hope that this provides insightful, interesting and useful reading.

Muriel Alexander

Covid-19 Survey Responses Summary

Open University resources

Everyday computer skills (16 hours) is a collaboration between Lead Scotland and the OU in Scotland, with funding from SCVO’s Digital Participation Fund. It’s a digital skills course for beginners, designed with and for disabled people. It covers all you need to know to get online using your computer, tablet or phone, with a focus on accessibility and online safety.

Open University Widening Access and Lifelong Learning Journal

Caring Counts is an OU in Scotland course co-created with carers and carers organisations. It’s intended to help carers reflect on their caring role, and the skills and experiences they’ve gained through it that are transferable to other contexts. It’s particularly useful for carers at a transition, who may be considering returning to work or study. It can be studied online or facilitated as a group course (there’s a guide provided) – which many carers organisations around Scotland have done.

Carers scholarships – the OU is now offering scholarships to carers and young adult carers beginning their studies with them. The criteria for this is that you must have a household income of less than £25k per year. In Scotland, the SAAS part-time fee grant covers module costs for anyone with a personal income of less than £25k. That means that Scottish carers won’t benefit from the scholarship in the same way as their counterparts in other parts of the UK so OU in Scotland will not be promoting it. The good news is that they can study with the OU for free anyway, as 70% of OU students are eligible for the part-time fee grant.

Refugees and asylum seekers
Reflecting on Transitions is an OU in Scotland course co-created with refugees, asylum seekers and other new Scots, in partnership with Bridges Programmes in Glasgow. The course can help learners identify the range of skills and abilities you’ve gained from their personal experiences and plan their next steps into work or study.

OpenLearn has developed a collection for Refugee Week called Understanding Refugee Experiences including a section on Resources for refugees

FutureLearn runs regular ESOL courses by the British Council. Understanding IELTS: Reading is available now (free, 3 weeks long). Understanding IELTS: Listening begins on 6 July.

The RefER project identified a range of online resources for refugee learners and those supporting them. You can read the report here or access the interactive document with links to those resources.

If you are using open educational resources with refugees and asylum seekers, you or your learners are invited to share your experiences on the Refugee Learning Stories blog. This is an open space, so anyone is welcome to contribute and posts can be anonymous if you prefer. There are some interesting posts for you to browse – from using Whatsapp as a language learning tool to university scholarships for asylum seekers in Dublin.

The Scottish Refugee Council has produced a short film called I Hear You for Word Refugee Day 2020

Anti-racism resources
Very topical at the moment and of critical importance to educators, many anti-racism resources are being made available for free just now. The Service Design in Scotland Network has compiled an interactive Padlet of resources called Black Lives in Scotland. You can explore links to resources or contribute to the Padlet yourself.

OpenLearn resources

Collection of mental health and wellbeing resources
Family friendly hub
Furloughed workers resources (in partnership with My World of Work)
Taking your teaching online
Open Pathways – an interactive guide for learners beginning their journey on OpenLearn

Managing your money for young adults (24 hours) is a course aimed at young people moving away from home to work or study. It comes with guidance for teachers on adapting for the classroom.

Making your learning count is a 30 credit module that allows you to gain credit for OpenLearn course and other informal learning.

Bullying and Manipulation: Join the Resistance interactive resource exploring bullying at work, school and even on Twitter at the hands of Donald Trump.

Citizen science and the data avalanche series of videos on how to become a citizen scientist

Climate justice for the next generation (7 hours, intermediate level) a new course that frames global warming and climate change in terms of social justice, human rights and intergenerational equality and emphasises how children and those least responsible for climate change are the ones who suffer its most significant consequences.

How to talk about race short video talking about race with comedian Munya Chawawa. A BBC / Open University collaboration.

Employability Resources

In partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the OpenLearn team has curated a collection of employability and digital skills resources, as well as functional English and Maths:

Internships and other work experiences (24 hours) is a brand new course for those who want to learn more about internships and other work experience options available, and explore how you can obtain and maximise the right opportunities to support your chosen career.

Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world (24 hours) is a new version of the existing ‘Digital literacy: succeeding in a digital world’ course with updated content reflecting changes in the digital landscape over the last few years.

Start your career with OpenLearn is a collection aimed at people leaving education and looking for some career support.

Covid-related resources

Coping in isolation: time to think – course trailer a short video for the course in which two Open University graduates reflect on the current COVID-19 lockdown. They offer some insights into their study experiences while imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s, and suggest ways to adjust to the current pressures facing people across the globe.

Young carers, COVID-19 and physical activity article outlining an Open University study around carers and their relationship with physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black History Month
OpenLearn has created a Black History Month hub featuring articles and courses on Black history, notable people and the Black Lives Matter movement.
How to talk about race is a short video by comedian Munya Chawawa. A BBC / Open University collaboration.

Sustainability Hub
Another new hub on OpenLearn features articles, course and interactive content related to sustainability, climate change, ecosystems and the natural world.

FutureLearn – available now
Most FutureLearn courses are free to access but there may be a fee if you would like the option of a certificate to recognise your participation.
A Global History of Sex and Gender: Bodies and Power in the Modern World (4 weeks) – University of Glasgow
Caring for Vulnerable Children (6 weeks) – University of Strathclyde / CELCIS
Introduction to Cyber Security (8 weeks) – Open University

Open Learning Champions
Well done to all of you who have managed to support learners through unprecedented times, sometimes while you and they grappled with unfamiliar technology. We hope these mailings have helped a wee bit. As a thank you to all our champions, please accept our Open Learning Champions badge (jpeg file attached) to ‘wear’ with pride!

OLC workshops
It may be a while before we can meet face to face but we are beginning to offer online Open Learning Champions sessions (1.5 hours). If your organisation would like to host one, please get in touch.

Remember to follow @OUScotland and @OUfreelearning on Twitter for updates and tweet us using #OLchamps