Ofsted draws attention to young adult carers

Hi! I’m Chloe, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Carers Trust, focusing on young carers and young adult carers. One of the issues that I work on is the extra challenges for young adult carers planning for their future and looking for work.

Young people have a lot to look forward to and at the same time many hurdles to jump on their way to adulthood. They have to square up to their exams, look after their health, make choices about their future path and think about the job they want to do. Some young people are also carers for a family member or friend. This is a very important person in their life who may need their support because they have a health condition, have dementia, have an addiction to alcohol or drugs or are frail. This raises some extra questions and pressures because those decisions about the future are made in the context of being a young adult carer.

A recent speech by Ofsted’s National Director for Further Education and Skills, Lorna Fitzjohn, drew attention to young adult carers. As an organisation Ofsted inspect schools, sixth form colleges and colleges of higher education. This includes looking into whether they are providing all young people with good training and careers advice. They particularly look at whether they are helping young people likely to have extra questions about their future, such as young carers.


In a speech on 10 September, Lorna Fitzjohn talked about a family friend called Tom. He took on a caring role for his mother who became ill when he was 12 years old. We don’t know what this means to Tom, how it affected him — we would have to ask him those questions — but from Carers Trust’s work with thousands of young adult carers we have answers from many young people that it has a big impact. It means they don’t always get the grades they need, they have unanswered questions about what career to plan for and they lack information about how to pay for or choose a university course. Our research found that only 33% of young adult carers were confident that they could afford to go to college or university. Some support is out there at young adult carers services and there is online support and advice. Beyond this many young adult carers are left without very much support at all.

Ofsted’s Director recommended some improvements, some of which have the potential to make a difference for young adult carers. Lorna Fitzjohn called for tracking of young people’s progress through education, to check they don’t get left out of the support and training that should be there to help them. The recommendation was for a unique number to track progress, so that the government bodies responsible for making sure all young people get a good education have the information to know if they are doing right by everyone. What if they also recorded who was a young carer, making sure they were not the ones without information or without the chance to get ready for their future?

There was also a recommendation to require Job Centre Plus to work more with schools, colleges and councils. Young adult carers have told us about their frustration when they are treated as if they have done something wrong when their caring role, something outside of their control, affects their ability to attend appointments.

Another group of recommendations made it clear that many schools, colleges and apprenticeship providers must give good advice, information and guidance to young people. A survey of young adult carers commissioned by Carers Trust found that of those young people in school only 45% felt they had received good careers advice and of those now out of school this dropped to 19%. Ofsted have made it clear that schools, colleges and training providers must think carefully about how all the young people they work with get the information they need. This includes supporting young adult carers who may need more or difference information so they can make informed steps towards their future. It was also stated that schools are required to work with other providers to give young people careers advice. Services that work with young carers or young adult carers should be welcome to work with schools and Ofsted is committing to check this kind of approach is taken seriously by schools.

These recommendations are designed to benefit all young people as they move into adulthood, making sure that their right to good information is taken seriously by organisations providing education and training. As part of the Time to be Heard campaign, Carers Trust is supporting thousands of young adult carers to campaign for better support and access to education, training and employment. I hope that Ofsted’s work on this issue is an opportunity for their voices to be heard.


October 8, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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