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Charities and Children’s Commissioner launch Young Carers Challenge for schools

Five simple changes schools can make to better identify and support young carers.

Carers Trust, The Children’s Society and members of the Young Carers Alliance are marking the start of a new academic year by encouraging schools to take on a challenge that will improve the education and life chances of hundreds of thousands of young people across the UK.

The Young Carers Challenge was launched today (13 September) at a roundtable event in Westminster organised by Carers Trust and the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza.

The event heard from charities, education leaders and young carers themselves about what can be done to better support young carers through school.

The Young Carers Challenge calls for every school to:

  • Have a Young Carers Champion in school so every young carer has a trusted adult they can go to if things are difficult, or they need more support.
  • Raise awareness of young carers with staff and pupils to help ensure young carers are identified and know what support is available.
  • Have a young carers agreement or policy so every young carer, and their parents, know what support is available to them at school.
  • Ensure young carers are correctly identified in their school pupil information system, monitor indicators such as attendance and attainment alongside other potentially vulnerable groups of pupils and include young carers within enrolment/transitions processes.
  • Link up with their local young carer service so they know what support is available for young carers outside school.

There are as many as one million young carers in the UK aged 17 or under. Many have a wide range of caring responsibilities at home that can limit time available to them for study and homework.

Research has revealed that young carers on average achieve one grade lower per subject at GCSE than their peers without a caring role.

Better and earlier identification of young carers by schools, and provision of appropriate support for them, will help address the attainment and attendance challenges faced by so many of them.

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

“Young carers are providing immeasurable support to their families, sometimes at the cost of their own education. It is our job to support young carers, such that they can go on to achieve their ambitions. We should be no less ambitious for young carers than we are for all children.” 

Andy McGowan, Carers Trust’s Policy and Practice Manager for Young and Young Adult Carers, said:

“Young carers all too often face a postcode lottery when it comes to recognition and support in school. At Carers Trust we believe no young person should fall through the cracks and have their life chances blighted because of where they live, where they go to school, or their responsibilities at home."

"By signing up to the Young Carers Challenge, schools can ensure this is no longer the case and help all children achieve their full potential.”

Claire Alldis, National Programme Manager from The Children’s Society, said:

"Through running our Include Programme for young carers and also working in collaboration with Carers Trust, many young carers express a need for better understanding and support at school. Without this, their health and wellbeing can suffer.

“By providing additional support in schools, these young carers feel more equipped to handle challenges. The Young Carers Challenge is essential to train school staff to recognise and support young carers, ensuring every child has fair and equal educational opportunities regardless of their caregiving responsibilities."

Max, a 13-year-old young carer for her mum and who took part in the roundtable, said:

“I believe it is important to improve the awareness and support for young carers in schools as we are blamed for having bad attendance when it's not all our fault. We can’t decide when the people we care for have a bad day or not, so why are we punished?"

"There needs to be more understanding and help for young carers in schools, rather than just fines and meetings where no one listens to us.”

Schools can sign up for the challenge and find a range of resources on young carers by visiting youngcarersinschools.com.


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