A Level Results – nervous wait for a Coventry young carer who juggled revision with caring for her grandparents
A Level students have all had an unbelievably difficult few years as they struggled through the pandemic with education disrupted, schools closed and exams cancelled.
But as difficult as it has been for all students, it has been unimaginably hard for young carers and young adult carers who look after siblings, parents and grandparents throughout their childhood and teenage years.
They are the students who return home from school each day to what can be a long list of caring tasks for a family member before they can sit down to their homework and revision.
It can feel overwhelming at times and it is no wonder that research has shown that, on average, without the right support, young carers achieve one grade lower per subject at GCSE than their peers without a caring role.
Sharandeep Sahota, from Coventry, is one such young adult carer.
The 18-year-old is now waiting to see if her A level results for English Language, Maths, Psychology, and Punjabi will enable her entry to Warwick University.
She wants to study law and is determined to become a barrister.
Sharandeep’s parents work full time so she and her brother Sandeep Sahota (16) spend about 50 hours between them each week caring for their grandparents, who live close by. She has looked after her grandmother, who is registered blind and has diabetes, and her grandad who has epilepsy, for many years.
“Being able to go into school was my break from caring, so Covid was tough.“
There has however, been fantastic support from the local Coventry young adult carers service, Carers Trust Heart of England.
Recently she attended all their A level revision sessions at a designated young carers centre, at the same time as continuing her caring role.
Shireen Stuart, Young Adult Carers Support Officer said: “Sharandeep has attended the sessions which the service arranged for the young adult carers. We have provided a range of revision tools for GCSE, A level and degree studies, including workbooks specific to each exam board.
“We sourced a tutor who is currently a teacher in a Coventry Secondary school. She kindly donated her time to tutor the young adult carers in maths, science, and revision skills.“
Sharandeep said: “The support I have had is brilliant. It deserves to be utilised by other young carers as it really helps them through social and educational opportunities.“
If Sharandeep is given a university place she will continue with her caring role.
Instead of moving into university accommodation, she will bus in and out from the university daily. The trip takes about 40 minutes.
Carers Trust has been working with partners to facilitate support for young adult carers through the application process for further education and so they can succeed at their college of further education after they arrive to start courses.
Successful campaigning with UCAS
Carers Trust supported a young adult carer to successfully campaign to ask the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to introduce a better way for universities to acknowledge the challenges faced by unpaid carers.
The 2023 application includes a new question so that students with caring responsibilities can identify themselves to their new university.
Laura Bennett, Carers Trust Head of Policy and External Affairs said: “We are delighted to have worked with UCAS to achieve this important new step for unpaid carers of any age who are applying to university. It follows a campaign we ran with a young adult carer who asked us to help her so that it was easier to apply to university as a young adult carer.
“Students with caring responsibilities will now benefit from being connected to the right support at university so that they can succeed and thrive in their time there. There are great opportunities for universities to make a meaningful offer of support for student carers, including a partnership with expert local carers services who can provide wraparound support.”
Research by The Children’s Society in 2013. From a report titled ‘Hidden From View.'