The National Strategy Group aims to; lead the development of strategy to achieve the mission and aims set out by NNECL; advocate for the network of regional groups and their members with policy makers from central Government and other bodies; maximise the complementarity of national organisations’ various inter-related activities; and ensure that local regional voices are represented.
Chair: External Relations
- Oversight of external communications agenda
- Chairing National Strategy Meetings
Arron Pile, Student and Graduate Diversity Officer, University of Salford
Regional rep for: North West
Arron has been involved in supporting care experienced young people (as well as estranged students, carers, sanctuary seekers and under eighteen students), into and through higher education at the University of Salford for the last decade and has been involved in NNECL since its inception in 2010. He is an active member of many regional and local groups that support care experienced young people including Salford CAN, the Greater Manchester LAC Forum and NorthCLASS. He has close relationships with Greater Manchester local authorities and runs mentoring schemes in partnership with Virtual Schools as well as providing foster care training and specialist training for people working around care experienced young people. He is a member of the Vulnerable Students Stakeholder Group and the Association for Graduate Careers Advisory Services Diversity Task Group.
- Strategic development/governance
- Chairing National Strategy Meetings
Dr Felicity Dunworth, Partnership Director, Kent & Medway Progression Federation
Regional rep for: South East
Felicity’s interest in the care sector began 25 years ago when she taught an after school drama club that specialised in work with looked after children. In her previous role as Director of the Aimhigher Kent and Medway Partnership she worked with colleagues from local universities, colleges, training organisations and local authorities to set up a multi-agency group to address the educational progress of young people in the care of Kent and Medway local authorities. This became the Care Leaver Progression Partnership, now chaired by East Kent College. The Aimhigher network created opportunities for such work to be shared across the country and the network that was to become the NNECL was established when the formal Aimhigher programme ended. Felicity is now Director of the Kent and Medway Progression Federation, and is a member of the Partnerships Development Office team at the University of Kent. She has spent much of her working life in collaborative outreach work and has been a member of The Bridge Group Information, Advice and Guidance panel, a member of the Buttle UK (formerly Frank Buttle Trust) Quality Mark Advisory Group and in 2011 served on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Advisory Panel on Education and Poverty.
Felicity was involved in the establishment of the NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) network and is a current member of the NEON steering group as well as a founding member of the NNECL. She is Chair of the NNECL South East Regional Group. In the 1980s she served on the national steering group of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) during the formative years of that organisation.
Network Communications Officers
- NNECL Newsletter and social media
- Supporting local groups
- Development of materials
Megan Lunn, Student Recruitment Coordinator, University of Sunderland
Regional rep for: North East
Megan has been working with Care Experienced students for over a decade through her role at the University of Sunderland. Megan provides guidance on the Pre-16 activity and is the main point of call for Local Authorities, Carers and Students from the moment they start considering university.
As the North East Representative for NNECL and a member of NorthCLASS, Megan enjoys working collaboratively and believes that sharing experiences can help other institutions and ultimately other students.
Alongside her work with Care Experienced Students, the rest of Megan’s role is as a Student Recruitment Coordinator. This sees her leading the Post 16 team: coordinating delivery of the Universities Post 16 recruitment activity including Shadowing schemes, Student Ambassadors, Open Days, Taster Days and Summer Schools.
Di Stone, Widening Participation and Community Engagement Manager, University of West England
Regional rep for: South West
Di Stone has worked at the University of the West of England as Widening Participation Manager since 1994. Throughout this time Di has acquired extensive knowledge and experience of working with children in care, care leavers, Foster Carers, virtual schools and Social work teams across the West of England. In her role as Events Coordinator for the Aimhigher West Area Partnership Di developed and coordinated a wide range collaborative HE interventions to raise aspirations and support attainment of children in care and care leavers across the South West. She represents the South West on the NNECL National Strategy Group and provides the link between South West Universities and Virtual School Heads. Di has organised 2 South West Regional Conferences and has presented, on behalf of Universities in the South West, at a number of local, regional and national conferences.
External Communications & Public Relations Officers
- Coordinating responses to press/other
- Ensuring NNECL presence at conferences
- Liaising with other organisations; lobbying set up and meetings
- Development of materials
Philip has led learning, projects and organisations in education for over 10 years as a secondary school teacher and leader, Director of Aimhigher Coventry and Warwickshire and now as the Chief Executive of a social enterprise with an international change mission.
Philip works at the intersection of practice, research and policy. His varied work focuses on developing strategy, organisations and people through a ‘whole person, whole journey’ progression model for lifelong success that he created and continues to develop through international research and practice.
Philip was national strategy Adviser to the Office for Fair Access; is co-author of the HEFCE Widening Participation Toolkits for Practitioners; led research, evaluation and development projects at universities across the UK and Australia; and has fellowships and associate roles at The University of Winchester, The University of Warwick, The University of Derby and the Higher Education Academy.
Carrie Wilson, Young Peoples Project Coordinator, The Care Leavers’ Association
Carrie is a Care Leaver, University Graduate and currently coordinates the Young Peoples Project at the Care Leavers’ Association. Here she works directly with young people leaving the care system, up the age of 30, providing support and guidance in areas such as independent living, work and educational routes and opportunities. Previous to this role she was the Pre-enrolment Care Leaver Officer at Sheffield Hallam University, working within the Outreach and UK Recruitment team. Here she led on embedding the support for care experienced young people pre-enrolment and during their course. While a University student she was a mentor for the Summer Schools ran by the university, for young people still in care, helping to raise the aspirations of these young people. She believes that educational support is vital for the all care experienced young people, regardless of age.
- Fielding general enquiries
- Arranging and minuting National Strategy Group meetings
Kirsty Dorward, Head of Student Experience Projects, University of Wolverhampton
Regional rep for: West Midlands
Kirsty is the designated contact for care experienced and estranged students at the University of Wolverhampton, looking after all aspects of the student life cycle – from application through to graduation. Kirsty also works closely with the University’s Outreach and Progression Coordinator with responsibility for Looked After Children.
As Head of Student Experience Projects, Kirsty is responsible for a team looking after Financial and International Support within the University.
Network Support & Training Officer
- Developing networks and training opportunities
Lee Byrne, Team Leader, Student Finance and Information, Bucks New University
Regional rep for: East of England
Lee is currently Chair of the Eastern Region Group encompassing eight universities committed to extending the opportunity afforded by education to all care experienced students across the region. Lee is the primary point of contact at Buckinghamshire New University for care leavers and practitioners working with them, from the point of application through to graduation. Lee works in Student Services and is responsible for all things Student Finance, including the development, delivery and evaluation of scholarships and bursaries at his institution, which includes monitoring student engagement. He works extensively with colleagues across recruitment and admissions, support services and the faculties to facilitate students’ transition to university and support their continued success whilst at university.
- Conference coordination and event management
Kay Bridger, Student Ambassador Coordinator, Loughborough University
Regional rep for: East Midlands
Kay Bridger is the Student Ambassador Coordinator and part of the team at Loughborough University which delivers recruitment and widening participation initiatives.
With over ten years’ experience organising and delivering higher education outreach events for young people in public care and their advisers, Kay enjoys working in partnership with local authorities, Virtual Schools and other agencies.
Kay was first involved in raising the educational aspirations of care experienced young people through an Aimhigher project: The Way Ahead. This brought the three Leicestershire universities together in collaborative work with a wide network of organisations. This successful partnership work has produced many care experienced specific events including ten Summer Schools, University Experience Days and HE awareness training for care professionals.
Kay is a founder member of the HE network EMCLASS: East Midlands Care Leavers and Student Support, and currently represents EMCLASS on the NNECL Advisory Board.
Melissa Page, HE Guidance Officer, De Montfort University
Regional rep for: East Midlands
Melissa Page is a Higher Education Guidance Officer in the Transitions Team at De Montfort University. She is the designated contact person for students coming from local authority care, as well as estranged students and student carers. Melissa has worked as a Guidance Officer for a number of years and organises university experience days for young people in care and training for care professionals. She works closely with local authorities to deliver events and develop opportunities for young people to engage in educational opportunities. Care leavers at DMU are encouraged to take up the offer to work at these events to share their experiences and motivate other young people and professionals to regard higher education as an achievable aim for care leavers.
Melissa is part of a team that provides advice and guidance to care leavers and their support workers on issues relating to finance, accommodation, support at university and moving on after graduation.
NNECL National Strategy Group Members
Priya Clarke, Widening Participation Officer, Queen Mary University of London
Regional rep for: London
Priya is the designated member of staff for young people with experience at Queen Mary University of London. With over 5 years of experience working with Looked after Children from across East London. Priya works closely with Advice and Guidance other key teams at the university to support students on their journey through university. Priya also works with London local groups to promote and support collaboration work.
Trudy Ing, Widening Participation Project Manager, Oxford Brookes University
Regional rep for: Central Region
Trudy started working for Aimhigher in 2004, joining the Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (MKOB) core project team. Working in partnership with a variety of organisations, she delivered structured programmes of events and activities to raise awareness of, and aspirations to, higher education, including delivering summer schools for care experienced students.
Through her current role as Widening Participation Project Manager at Oxford Brookes University,Trudy works with particular target groups including care leavers and students with disabilities. Trudy leads the NEON working group for the Disabled Learners in the south.
Trudy has always been committed to ensuring care experienced students in the region have access to appropriate advice about future options and are aware of the educational options available. One of her future goals is to embed the continuation of support for care leavers within her institution by writing a care leaver policy. Trudy is a member of the NNECL central region working group.
Andrew Rawson, Director of Action on Access
Andrew is Director of Action on Access, national provider of coordination and support for furthering widening participation and access to HE across the UK. Action on Access has worked with Buttle UK since 2009 publishing the first Quality Mark Practice Guide for higher education providers in 2010, was instrumental in the setting up of the National Network for Collaborative Outreach Network for the Education of Care Leavers website and Single Point of Contact, and is very pleased to be a member of the NNECL Strategy Group. Action on Access works with, provides information and resources to anyone working in or with HE providers and has been working to support care leavers as a significant and under-represented group in Higher Education since 2000.
The following organisations are represented on the NNECL National Strategy Group:
- Action on Access
- Care Leavers' Association
- National Union of Students
- The Progression Trust
- The National Association of Virtual School Heads
Non voting co-opted members: