Supporting transition and retention

What we’re doing

Following on from last year’s successful projects we’re now working with:

Aquinas College      

  • The ‘Supporting Progression’ project will focus on students at risk of becoming not in education, employment or training during transition from Yr 12 to Yr 13. Support will be offered to students to create a bespoke action plan that signposts their next steps through the college’s guided aspire programme. The college will also be appointing to a new post (Transition & Wellbeing Manager) who will work with vulnerable students to support their transition from school to college and provide ongoing support
  • A range of activities including Safe Space will support students with their transition to employment, university, apprenticeships etc. The college hopes to attract and engage with a wide cross section of students and staff; reduce the stigma around mental health issues and promote wellbeing. Students will be provided with the help and support they need to develop positive wellbeing and lifestyle habits.

 Bury College 

  • Delivering transition support to school leavers progressing to college, with attention being placed on those who have been identified by secondary schools as being at risk of becoming not in employment, education or training, are vulnerable, and have identified mental health issues
  • Delivering additional personal support to existing college students progressing from Year 1 to Year 2 of their college experience, with attention being placed on those identified as having additional learning needs/vulnerable, are at risk of becoming not in employment, education or training, have known mental health issues and who are progressing from a Foundation level course onto a Vocational programme

Hopwood Hall College         

  • Progression Bootcamp (existing students). This project will be based at the Rochdale campus over the summer holidays with existing students who aim to progress in 2021/2022 but require further interventions to ensure they are prepared for the next stage of college
  • Strive Project (late enrollers). The Strive project will identify a number of students during enrolment who apply late or are not expected at college. These students are traditionally fall into the categories: previous high-risk behaviours; experienced past ACEs & trauma affecting their emotional regulation; have experience of care/currently with Children’s Social Care; Have missed significant amounts of education for reasons of behaviour, youth offending or mental health. A behaviour mentor will work with these students in class (small group) and in 1-1 mentoring sessions providing a structure and positive plan for engagement in college using a range of restorative, resilience building and mentoring content alongside the vocational delivery. This structured programme will run for a six-week period from September to October using intense intervention and support to the student(s). The behaviour mental will then continue to keep in touch with the cohort through the remaining college journey.
  • Reach Project: Re-engage into college (New students). Project aimed to be delivered over 2/3 weeks in August prior to enrolment with 12 new students with significant periods of missed education or NEET in 2020/2021. The Reach transition project will work with schools and agencies (eg positive steps, CAMHS) to identify a cohort of students who would benefit from a gradual introduction and transition into to college. Staff will work in small groups and 1:1 to support ‘at risk’ students to prepare for college in September and will continue to ensure they remain on programme with bespoke support put in place where required.

Loreto College

  • The college has a successful track record in support students with a mental health need. However, it’s common for students to delay disclosing this need to college and therefore accessing support.  This project aims to trial a model of induction that does two things; gives students a full introduction of the support on offer to them in college and teach them explicitly skills around wellbeing. Students well be identified through work with partnership high schools who will be asked to identify possible students. These students will then be given an appointment during the college enrolment to come on to site, meet the wellbeing officers and tour key wellbeing areas. The students will be enrolled on a 4-session wellbeing course which explores a wellbeing toolkit

 Oldham College       

  • This project focuses on transition from college to University Campus Oldham and will support young people with their mental health and wellbeing. It includes training student mentors and providing them with support throughout the duration of their role. This is a paid role and will  provide employability skills. The college are also developing a wellbeing room that can be used by mentors and students as a support/safe area.

Oldham Sixth Form College           

  • This project will focus on students experiencing issues relating to low social confidence and high anxiety caused by social isolation as a result of COVID-19. The college will be testing a combination of strategies in order to create a package of support to enhance the students’ transition experience from school to college and from Yr12 to Yr13.

Salford City College             

  • Following on from the positive transition project completed last academic year the college became aware of the clear impact of providing support and a positive transition especially for vulnerable groups. The college are also employing a transitions mentor to support and maintain the transition of students that have been identified as medium and high risk of becoming not in education, employment or training. Currently there are 160 students identified with more students applying and requiring additional transition support.
  • Through the college’s previous projects, they’ve identified a large number of students interested in hair and beauty that are currently in alternative provision (pupil referral units) and medium and high risk of becoming not in education, employment or training due to their attitude, behaviour and attendance at school. A number of these students have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools. There are also a number of home educated young people who have no formal qualifications but have a genuine desire to move into the hair, beauty and the media make-up curriculum area. A significant number of students identified have mental health concerns. The idea of the project is to support the students to close the gap and ensure they are in an environment that has the right level of support for their social and emotional needs and therefore reduce their risk of becoming not in education, employment or training. Often these young people have ACE’s and have experienced trauma in their early years.

St John Rigby Sixth Form College            

  • The college are piloting a new post (Wellbeing Officer) that will support and complement the wellbeing support that’s currently available to students.  Through course discussion interviews and better partnership work with feeder high schools the college is becoming more aware prior to enrolment of those students who will need additional support when it comes to their wellbeing. The Wellbeing Officer will make contact with those students identified prior to them enrolling to identify what support is needed.

Tameside College

  • The college will be employing a transition mentor to work specifically with their local pupil referral unit (alternative provision) to engage students in 1-1 sessions. They will be working specifically with students either at risk of becoming not in employment, education and training or who would struggle to cope with the expectations of college.

 The Manchester College     

  • Working collaboratively with Manchester City Council to support transition activity for targeted students progressing into college who have either been identified as being at risk of not being in education, employment or training, students with an education health and care support plan or students progressing from  a pupil referral unit. These 76 learners will be offered an appropriate tailored package to support them from enrolment to the end of Term 1. The college will also host three events to encourage networking and induction enrichment activity focused on mental health awareness.


  • The college’s ‘College Ready Programme’ is an extended transition programme to support young people at increased risk of becoming not being in education, employment or training. It will focus on students who experience mental health challenges, students with special educational needs, young people with experience of the care system, young carers & hidden young carers and students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. The programme will run over three weeks and offer a wide range of activities. The second phase will have a focus on peer support from the 19-20 college ready student volunteers and incorporate a “buddy system” for new students. Students will meet as a whole group on Teams, and also an in-curriculum area “buddy” can be identified.

 Wigan and Leigh College

  • Wigan and Leigh College will run a Positive Mental Health Market Place event in line with enrolment, fresher’s fair and induction. They will also deliver 14 podcasts with seven aimed at vulnerable groups including looked after children/carer leavers, young carers, BAME, LGBTQ and students with special educational needs

Xaverian College

  • The college are providing proactive support and mentoring for Y11 pupils identified by their high schools as likely to struggle to adapt to the changes and demands of college life. They will continue to monitor students who  participated in their pilot scheme particularly closely during the induction period for the first half-term.

Our approach

  • With college budgets already heavily stretched, this extra funding has allowed staff to explore innovative ways to engage with learners at their most vulnerable times – transition.
  • In 2020 colleges were faced with the additional pressure of finding new ways to support vulnerable and anxious learners coming into college for the first time because of lockdown and this funding was key to ensuring that many learners engaged and stayed on in their learning
  • Test and Learn – Innovation and a willingness to try out new ways of working
  • Great funding opportunity and the shared approach of the Association of Colleges has enabled lots of new ways of working to be identified
  • Opportunity for Greater Manchester colleges to benefit each other through centrally funded opportunities.

Reports from previous activities

Colleges ran a range of activities around 3 transition points for learners identified with mental health issues: school to college / college to university / college to work. You can read and download them all here