The Young Carers in Schools programme is being led by the Carers Trust and the Children’s Society and is aimed at supporting schools and awarding good practice.
At the same time as the launch last week, 15 schools across the country were awarded for their work with young carers, receiving either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Young Carers in Schools Award.
Hundreds more schools are expected to receive awards this summer after applying for recognition under the scheme.
On average, young carers miss or cut short 48 school days a year, according to recent research by the Carers Trust and the Children’s Society. Further research has found that those who care for relatives with drug or alcohol problems are more badly affected.
Young carers also achieve notably lower results at GCSE because of their caring role – as many as nine grades lower than their peers across all their GCSE subjects – and are more likely than the national average to become NEET.
Numerous pieces of research have also revealed that young carers often have lower levels of self-confidence and mental wellbeing, while a quarter have said that they were bullied at school because of their caring role.
Via the programme, schools can access a step-by-step guide for school leaders, teachers and support staff to help them identify young carers and offer the appropriate support.
The programme is also offering expert regional networks, aiming to bring together schools, young carer services, and health and social care professionals for CPD and training.
Gail Scott-Spicer, chief executive of Carers Trust, said: “Schools play a vital role in a young carer’s life, but many care for relatives without their teachers even knowing what they do.
“On average young carers will miss half-a-day of school each fortnight as a result of their caring role, so the steps schools take to identify and support them can have a huge impact on their learning, wellbeing and life chances.”
Roland Marsh, headteacher of Applemore College in Hampshire, which received a Silver Young Carers in School Award, said: “We are delighted to have won a silver award for our work with young carer students. We want all our students to participate fully, including those with caring responsibilities.
“The Young Carers in Schools programme has been an insightful process, helping us to understand the signs that a student may be a young carer and to identify the support that might be appropriate.”
The new programme has already received the backing of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which has featured it on its Safer Schools Network online resource.
General secretary Dr Mary Bousted echoed the need for training for school staff: “According to a recent survey carried out by ATL, more than half of teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders have a young carer in their school or college. However, only 30 per cent of education staff work in a school or college that provides special support for young carers.”
For more information on the progamme and the Young Carers in Schools Award, visit https://youngcarersinschools.wordpress.com/, and for the step-by-step guide for school staff, visit https://professionals.carers.org/stepbystep Photo: iStock