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Herts County Council celebrates care leavers' Oxbridge successes



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A Sawbridgeworth student is leaving Hertfordshire County Council's care system to begin a degree at Cambridge University.

Stephanie Braid, 18, is one of two youngsters heading for Oxbridge after support from the local authority's Virtual School, an online resource supporting the education of pupils in care in mainstream schools.

Stephanie achieved four A*s at A-level at Leventhorpe School and was accepted to study computer science.

Star student Stephanie Braid (51770469)
Star student Stephanie Braid (51770469)

Through the Virtual School, she was given detailed support with her Cambridge application and guidance on how to live and work successfully at uni.

She said she was grateful for the help and support from her foster carers, social workers and "especially appreciates the amazing teaching and encouragement" from her teachers at the Sawbridgeworth secondary.

She is eager to start her studies this month and hopes to add a postgraduate qualification in the future.

Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth
Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth

Fellow Virtual School pupil Bhuvanesh Ramnauth, 18, is studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. The 18-year-old from Letchworth attended Hitchin Boys' School.

In all, 28 care leavers from Hertfordshire are heading to universities across the UK. A total of 139 have graduated since 2009, with 77 students this year in full-time attendance and a further 26 already interested in applying next year.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, the county council's executive member for children, young people and families, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for these young people, who have worked extremely hard to get to university.

"Having care leavers go to both Oxford and Cambridge this year, for the first time, is a wonderful accomplishment.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, the county council's executive member for children, young people and families
Cllr Teresa Heritage, the county council's executive member for children, young people and families

"We're so proud of our Hertfordshire Virtual School, which has provided the expertise, support and passion to help our young people in care.

"I'd also like to pay tribute to our amazing foster carers, whose love and guidance goes a long way to helping these young people to achieve their potential."

Cllr Terry Douris, HCC's executive member for education, libraries and lifelong learning, said: "Despite the disruption of school closures due to Covid-19 restrictions, the academic results this year have been outstanding.

Cllr Terry Douris, Herts County Council's executive member for education
Cllr Terry Douris, Herts County Council's executive member for education

"Not only is 2021 the sixth successive year of improvement in the numbers of GCSE passes for our young people in care, but also in A-level results.

"These incredible achievements are testament to the young people for their hard work and application, and also the Hertfordshire Virtual School for its vital support and commitment to our young people. Huge congratulations to all concerned."

The county council urgently needs more foster carers, particularly to look after older children. To help, see www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/fostering.



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