New Course: Corporate Parenting in Colleges 2023-24

Andrée Carruthers tells us about an important newly-updated online course which is free and helps all college staff understand what corporate parenting means and how it can improve the life and learning chances of Care Experienced students.


Got a couple of hours to spare? Of course not, especially at this time of year. Well just spare me a few minutes and hopefully I can persuade you to take a quick look at the new version of the College Development Network’s (CDN) Corporate Parenting in Colleges course.

What Is Corporate Parenting? Your college is a Corporate Parent, which means under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 your college must work to uphold the rights and safeguard the wellbeing of ‘looked after’ children and young people, and care leavers aged under 26. However, many colleges have chosen to disregard the age limit of 26, acknowledging that the impact of care experience can be life-long.

We know that our colleges are so much stronger, and that we get much more satisfaction from our jobs, when all our students thrive. The course, was co-produced with Care Experienced students and their insight, knowledge and skills will equip you to support Care Experienced students, whatever your role in the college.

As you know starting college is challenging for all students, this course outlines some of the reasons why, for some Care Experienced students, college can be particularly challenging. The course is very interactive, with lots of videos and reflections to engage you. Here’s a wee taster of both:

Have a look at Chloe and David’s experience of changing homes, what do you think might be the effect of sudden and frequent moves?



From what you’ve heard from Chloe and David what do you think might be the effect of sudden and frequent moves? There is an example to start you off, remember no one can see your answers.

Hundreds of staff, at a number of colleges, worked through the first version of the module and using their feedback, we’ve made a few changes. The new version is shorter and the Knowledge Checklist, at the end of the module is clearer.

We also updated the course by including new developments like The Promise. The Promise is ‘that all children in Scotland will grow up being loved, safe and respected’. We all respect our students and strive to keep them safe, but how do we love our students. The Promise doesn’t define love but read the story below and discover how a small gesture, can make a huge difference:

Pete is Care Experienced. He was 16 when he turned up at college to start his computing course. He was nervous and had forgotten where to go. There were loads of people milling about and he thought he might just go home. He was spotted by Mike, one of the janitors, going out of the door. Mike asked him if he could help. Pete said he was off home because he didn’t know where to go. Mike encouraged him to come back in, “Don’t worry lad, we’ll get it sorted”. He introduced Pete to Fiona, one of the marketing staff, welcoming students on that first morning. Fiona could see how nervous Pete was and so went with him to the classroom where his group was meeting, reassuring him that he wasn’t late and chatting to him as they went along the corridor. The classroom door was open and Pete was greeted by a warm hello from Sayeed, his lecturer, “Hi Pete, good to see you again, come in, we’re all just starting to get to know each other”.

Call it caring or love – could this have happened at your college?

We’ve also taken advice from Each and Every Child who are changing hearts and minds on the narrative surrounding care experience in Scotland and creating a fresh, inspiring narrative to shift public attitudes.

As I say maybe now’s not the best time to engage with the course but put a slot in your diary for later in the year and when you do, let us know how you get on – and take a look at what others thought of it with the course reviews below.


Sign up for the online course here.


Course Reviews

Ambassador for the HUB for SUCCESS said:

This module successfully guides those undertaking the course to reframe the way they view their responsibilities towards care experience learners. It updates its definition of Care Experience to reflect The Promise policy and clearly explores the different type of care experience a learner might have.

People taking on this course are invited to take a step outside of their comfort zone to reflect on their role and think practically about how they can ensure that each and every child can thrive in their college. Overall, it teaches those taking on the course that you cannot change a student’s past but by informing yourself on the duties of a corporate parent you can have the privilege of setting your learners up for future success.


Catherine McCormack, Student Experience Manager Learning and Wellbeing, Edinburgh College added:

An engaging and informative module, I would encourage all staff to complete the module as it really gives an excellent overview of our responsibilities as a corporate parent, and the importance we all play in supporting our CE students regardless of what our role is in our institution.  What is particularly powerful is the input from some CE learners sharing some of the barriers they have faced and the impact support in their college has made to their experience.


Ambassador for the HUB for SUCCESS said:

The module encourages corporate parents to understand that the support they provide care experienced learners is not unique but is what every learner needs to thrive in education. The use of case studies shows the number of experiences that may have an impact on the lives of care experienced learners and the positive impact showing care and offering a scaffolding of support can have on the educational journey of care experience learners.

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