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Making a positive change for young carers in schools

So here it is, another new year and a chance to reflect on our lives, our hopes and ambitions for the future. In doing so, this year, I have decided to make a number of New Year’s plans, a mental list of the things I aim to achieve by December: decorating my house, learning to sew, and finally removing the tags from the gym kit that has been festering in my wardrobe. At the very least, I will finally try to get fit.

But more importantly, I plan to help make real positive change for young carers in schools. I want to help reverse the statistics that show that caring responsibilities have a significant impact on a pupil’s health, wellbeing and learning. Statistics that include a quarter of young carers in the UK saying they were bullied at school (Carers Trust, 2013), and young carers having significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE – the equivalent to nine grades lower than their peers for young carers in England (The Children’s Society, 2013).

Evidence suggests it is likely there are many young carers in every school. Research by the BBC pointed to a figure of 700 000 in the UK, (BBC, 2010), many unaware of the impacts of the caring role they are undertaking. That’s about one in 12 secondary aged pupils.

So what exactly am I including in my New Year’s plans?

Well, in my work as Schools Development Officer at Carers Trust, I already know that many schools across England are making a real and positive difference to the young carers they support. But other schools have told me they want to achieve these excellent outcomes but don’t know where to begin.

That is why this year I am going to help roll out Young Carers in Schools, an exciting England-wide initiative, run jointly by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society Young Carers in Focus partners.By taking part in the Young Carers in Schools programme, schools will be able to show that they are meeting the needs of this particularly vulnerable pupil group.

They will have access to:

  • Supporting Young Carers in Schools: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff including templates, tools and guidance.
  • Expert regional networks: bringing together schools, young carers services, and health and social care professionals for peer-to-peer learning and training.
  • The Young Carers in Schools Award: enabling schools to gain recognition from several leading charities for effective practice.

You too can make a real difference by including young carers in your New Year’ plans.

There are plenty of things that you can do to make a difference to the experiences of young carers in school. For example, write a simple tweet to support and promote the Young Carers in Schools programme and encourage the schools you know to take part, sign up to receive the termly newsletter to gain knowledge and good practice examples, and get involved in the regional networks now.

And don’t forget to show your commitment to identifying, recognising and supporting young carers by telling us what you are doing.

No child or young person’s education, wellbeing and potential should be affected by their caring role = include young carers in your New Year’s plans today.

References

BBC (2010), Hidden Army of young carers could be four times as high as official figures.

Carers Trust (2013), Supporting Young Carers in School: An Introduction for Primary and Secondary School Staff (Carers Trust).

The Children’s Society (2013), Hidden from View (The Children’s Society).


Emily Carter is Schools Development Officer at Carers Trust


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January 14, 2015 - Posted by | Young carers | ,

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