Primary and secondary education in Scotland

Our National Strategic Education Project aims to standardise training and awareness of young carers for teachers/education staff throughout Scotland. Our research and policy work aims to identify possible areas for improvement for young carers and help to support education professionals to identify young carers so that they are heard and valued, with access to support, advice and resources to enable them to live fulfilled lives.

Young carers and education

The Scottish Government recognises that there are at least 30,000 young carers in Scotland under 18 years old. Further extensive survey work by young carer services and Carers Trust show that as many as one in five children in a class has a caring role, however, the number of young carers recorded across schools in Scotland is significantly lower.

Many young carers struggle to juggle their education and caring responsibilities which can cause pressure and stress. But with the right support some young carers have reported to us that being at school can feel like respite from caring. Without support, young carers can find attending school difficult:

“I sometimes wish it didn’t have to be this way, I feel like I’m living a very abnormal life from most teenagers and I don’t get the advantage I want from being one as I feel like I’m living under a rock. Most importantly whenever I try to explain this to my friends they don’t seem to empathise and understand me they think it’s just how it’s meant to be ... but everyday it’s a constant battle. It feels unfair. I want to do something to push this message out to all schools.” (Young Carer)

Young carers tell us, year on year, that education is still one of the biggest challenges they face, often with teachers not understanding their caring role:

“School and teachers to help me. To understand that my family and I are judged by others. Sometimes it gets too much. We are isolated and excluded.” (Young Carer)

Free Young Carer Awareness Training

Carers Trust Scotland, working in partnership with young carer services, is offering free Young Carer Awareness Training to all education staff, including probationer and student teachers across Scotland. Since 2019, we have delivered training to over 1,000 probationer and student teachers.

The training outcomes are:

  • Increased understanding of what constitutes being a young carer.
  • Increased understanding of the impact of unpaid care on a young carers education.
  • Increased understanding of the policy and legislation context relevant to carers/young carers.
  • Increased confidence of how to identify and support young carers.

Feedback about the training:

  • “I feel better informed to identify a young carer and the next steps I can take to offer support.”
  • “I feel so much more informed about what a young carer is, what issues the may face and what support is available.”
  • “The session covered everything I expected and more, I learned a lot about what young carers need and are entitled to – Thank you!”

If you would like to hear more about this free training for any education staff or further information about young carers in education please contact Kelly Munro, our Education Officer (Primary and Secondary).