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Carwarden House

Community School and Sixth Form

Curriculum and Learning

16 - 19 Bursary Fund

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund was introduced in the 2011 to 2012 academic year. It is money the government has given to local authorities, schools, colleges and other education and training providers (institutions) to give to disadvantaged students. Its purpose is to provide financial support to help students overcome specific barriers to participation, so they can remain in education.

There are two types of 16 to 19 bursaries:

  • A vulnerable bursary of up to £1,200 a year for young people in one of the defined vulnerable groups;
  • Discretionary bursaries that institutions award to meet individual needs. For example, transport, meals, books and equipment.
  • Students who meet the criteria, and who have a financial need, can apply for a bursary for vulnerable groups. The defined groups reflect that these students are unlikely to be receiving financial assistance from parents or carers, so may need a greater level of support to enable them to continue to participate. Students will be awarded the amount of support they need to participate based on an assessment of the types of costs they have and are not automatically awarded £1,200.

Education institutions are responsible for managing both types of bursary. Parents of students, or students themselves, who want to apply for support from the bursary fund should contact Deborah Proudfoot, Assistant Headteacher, as soon as possible to make an application. More information can be obtained from the Education Funding Agency's website

Vulnerable bursaries

Most students who get support from the bursary will receive a tailored award from the discretionary bursary. Students in one or more of the groups below need more support and can apply for a vulnerable bursary of up to £1,200. Institutions do not receive an allocation of funds for vulnerable bursaries. They need to draw down the funds from the Student Support Bursary Service (formerly the Learner Support Service), using the relevant claim form.

The eligible groups are students who are:

  • in care
  • care leavers
  • receiving Income Support, or Universal Credit because they are financially supporting themselves or financially supporting themselves and someone who is dependent on them and living with them such as a child or partner
  • receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in their own right

Please note that to qualify as eligible for a vulnerable student payment the young person does not have to live independently of their parents; they can claim ESA or UC in their own right. Parents should note that they will not be able to claim Child Benefit for them if the young person’s claim for ESA succeeds.

How are children in care and care leavers defined?

For the purposes of the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, the definitions are:

“children in care” means:

  • children looked after by a local authority on a voluntary basis (section 20 of the Children Act 1989) or under a care order (section 31 of the Children Act 1989). Section 22 of the Children Act 1989 defines the term ‘looked after child’

“care leavers” means:

  • either young people aged 16 and 17 who were previously looked after for a period of 13 weeks consecutively (or periods amounting to 13 weeks), which began after the age of 14 and ended after the age of 16.
  • or a young person who is aged 18 or above who was looked after prior to becoming 18 for a period of 13 weeks consecutively (or periods of 13 weeks), which began after the age of 14 and ended after the age of 16.

In legal terms these children are called relevant children or former relevant children.

Foster care, including privately arranged foster care

Any young person placed with a foster carer by the local authority, including where the foster carer is on the books of an independent fostering agency, is classed as looked after. They are therefore in a defined vulnerable group for the bursary.

A child who is privately fostered (the arrangement is made between the parent and the person who will care for the child) is not classed as a looked after child, as this is a private arrangement. Local authorities should have published policies stating what support they will provide in these circumstances.

Where a student has been in the care of the local authority and that care is transferred to another party via a permanent form of fostering, e.g. a Special Guardianship Order. The student is deemed to have left care and is now a care leaver. They are entitled to a vulnerable student bursary as a former relevant child/care leaver.