Carers Trust Wales help young carers catch up after COVID-19 by launching new resources for schools

Carers Trust Wales have today published Supporting Learners with Caring Responsibilities, a suite of resources to support the identification, attainment, and well-being of young carers in Wales’ primary and secondary schools.

Sixteen percent of pupils in Wales’ secondary schools balance their caring role with school and this rises to over one in five pupils from the least affluent backgrounds[i]. Our recent survey of young carers[ii] in Wales, undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed children and young people in primary and secondary schools were struggling to keep up with their learning whilst caring at home. Forty-five percent of young carers were not able to spend enough time on their schoolwork, and 58% felt that their education was suffering. It is important that schools and colleges are able to identify and effectively support young carers as they return to school this week.

One young carer, aged 14 from Wales, said:

“I have been caring a lot more than usual and expected to spend more time with the person I care for meaning I don't have much time for me I've not done any school work [because] of caring and other things so I'm falling behind massively”.

Given that many were already struggling, it’s important that everything is done to minimise the growing attainment gap created by the pandemic”[iii].Research in Wales consistently shows that caring impacts on the experience of young carers in schools, including their well-being, punctuality, attendance, educational attainment and life chances.

Schools can play a crucial role in signposting young people for support, as well as taking steps to support their learning in school, but whilst some effective practices were highlighted in Estyn’s thematic review into young carers (2019), they found that there was inconsistent provision for young carers cross schools in Wales.

Carers Trust Wales’ education programme, funded by Welsh Government, has worked with all regional vulnerable learner leads in Wales, and the comprehensive training resources for pupils and teaching professionals are now available to every school in Wales. The resources have been designed to meet learning outcomes within the ‘Health and Well-being’ Area of Learning and Experience of the Curriculum for Wales (Welsh Government, 2020).

The programme led to teachers’ skills to identify and support young carers in school increased manifold as a result of the programme:

  • The number of teachers with excellent knowledge of what being a young carer meant increased fourfold during the programme, rising from 13% to 61%.
  • Before the programme, only 5% of teachers said they knew what reasonable adjustments young carers need to support their learning, health and well-being in classroom. After the training, 94% had good knowledge of how to support pupils.

The programme gave teachers within the pilot schools the knowledge, skills and tools to ensure their school was providing a supportive environment for young carers to be identified and offered the support they need. The pilot has been overwhelmingly successful and in one school a five-year-old pupil found the confidence to open up about his caring role following the school’s assembly about young carers. As a result their family is now receiving support and the teacher has set up a fortnightly session open for all young carers in the school.

A key partner in developing the resources, Siriol Burford, the vulnerable learner lead at Central South Consortium, said:

“Carers Trust Wales are helping to bring clarity to schools about the holistic, whole school approaches needed to ensure that young carers have the education they deserve. The collaborative partnership between Carers Trust Wales and consortia has developed the strategies and resources needed to implement this.”

Simon Hatch, Carers Trust Wales, said:

“We’re proud to have led a strong partnership which has already resulted in improvements to the experiences of young carers in education across Wales.

"Too many young carers struggle to get the recognition they deserve and the support they need in education environments. For many, this has lasting, negative consequences."

"Our pilot has demonstrated the value of whole-school approaches to making sure that young carers get the help and understanding they need."

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said:

“Every child in Wales, including those with caring responsibilities at home, has the right to expect an excellent education regardless of their circumstances.

“Good educational attainment can provide the gateway to future stability, security and an independent, fulfilling life and I am delighted to have been able to provide funding to Carers Trust Wales to produce education resources to support young carers in education.”

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Notes to Editor

 

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