Schools urged to do more for young carers

Written by: Greg Lewis | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Education inspectorate Estyn is calling on secondary schools to do more to identify and support the 30,000 young carers in Wales.

An Estyn study found that many secondary schools, colleges and pupil referral units do not know which learners have a caring role at home. As a result, the support they receive varies widely across Wales.

Meanwhile, schools which do identify and support these young people have made a real difference to academic success and wellbeing. Those which are the most successful have a named lead person for young carers and generally provide a “high level of care”. Young carers in these schools say they are “confident to raise concerns” and confident that any issues will be dealt with sensitively.

The scale of this issue first hit the headlines 10 years ago in Wales when the Office of the Children’s Commissioner published the views of young carers in its Full of care report.

It noted that young carers felt that the wider community, including teachers, did not always recognise and appreciate their caring role. They experienced worry, anxiety and stress.

The new study shows that there is still a long way to go to ensure that young carers have the support they need.

It recommends that schools, colleges and pupil referral units identify which learners have a caring role and have a dedicated member of staff to lead on championing young carers’ needs.

Estyn illustrates the good practice at Ysgol y Strade in Llanelli, where strong partnerships with external agencies and community ethos help support pupils from all backgrounds, including those that are caring for others. Young carers feel that the school adjusts their provision to support their wellbeing needs.

Using external agencies to improve provision is a good way for providers to help support young carers. Estyn recommends that providers make better use of specialist resources and has created a checklist to help schools, colleges and pupil referral units reflect on how well they support young carers.

The most recent figures on the number of young carers date back to 2011 and show there were around 30,000 young carers under the age of 25 in Wales. Estyn is also calling on the Welsh government to provide more up-to-date data.


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