Schools play a vital role in supporting young carers and reducing barriers to their educational attainment and their wellbeing. Here are some overarching tips, produced in consultation with young carers, to consider.
- Create an environment where young carers and their families feel safe to identify their situation and means in which they can do so discreetly.
- Ensure that school staff have training on young carers and have a designated lead who all pupils know they can contact.
It would help if the teachers knew more about what it means to be a young carer and the extra responsibilities we might have.
I like the extra support at college. It's nice that they have a specific young carers worker.
- Find out what support structures and services are available. Have this information publicly on show within your school so that young people themselves can find it.
- Look at ways to reduce barriers to education for young carers, such as opportunities to do homework in school hours; offering lunchtime detentions; and considering access to phones during set times.
Lots of deadlines were around the same time. It would help if these were spread out more or the teachers were more flexible.
When my mum is not well or has had an operation, I worry about her. It would help if I could have times out of the day to use my phone or to check with her.
- Raise awareness among staff and pupils of the issues young carers face. This can be done in assemblies, PSHE, or using opportunities such as Carers Week. It is important that this is done without singling out anyone as being a young carer.
I feel like I miss out on trips and activities in school because of my caring responsibilities.
- Ensure that your anti-bullying strategy identifies young carers as a group who are more likely to experience bullying so that staff are aware and can offer support if they see a situation occuring. A designated lead for young carers is particularly important in bullying situations. The isolation faced by young carers means they often struggle to come forward to tell school staff and they do not wish to burden their parents, which means they are more likely to struggle in silence.
It would help to have a person at school who knows about me and all I am going through.
- Promote positive discourse around ‘difference’, including disability, mental health and caring. See ABA’s guides on celebrating difference and addressing identity-based bullying.
- Young carers have told us they would like to speak to others in their situation, and that buddying or other peer support schemes would particularly benefit them. See ABA’s information on setting up a peer support scheme in your school.
I would have liked a young carers group or space at school.
- Listen to young carers and ask them to input on your strategies that affect them. It is important that young carers feel empowered in order to be better able to cope with adverse situations.
Resources to support you
Carers Trust provide detailed guidance identifying young carers, writing specific policies, and creating models of support in their booklet:
They provide additional specific guidance on dealing with bullying of young carers in their booklet:
This video was made by the Carers Trust: