Following research undertaken, it became clear that for a significant number of young carers, their experience in education was not as fulfilling as it could be.
Even more worrying has been the shared view amongst young carers, their families and in some cases the school system, that relates to the low expectation for young carers to achieve in school.
Cheshire Young Carers has a comprehensive programme of support for schools/colleges to help improve the educational outcomes for their young carers. It is designed to increase both attendance levels and attainment and to ultimately provide better “life chances” for every young carer in their school.
It starts with a consultation involving senior leadership teams within education where we are able to share the results from various research studies. This research and practical experience of working with young carers has led to the development of a three-step approach to support schools in helping young carers fully benefit from the opportunities offered within education.
The three-step programme is as follows:
- To identify – Cheshire Young Carers have a number of strategies to help schools raise the awareness of young carers in school. The strategies will provide both school staff and pupils with the relevant information regarding young carers, so that they and you can make informed choices. It will also help to raise the profile of young carers within the school community.
- To assess – Our unique “Assessment Tool” provides schools with a practical means of quantifying the amount of care a young carer is undertaking. As a consequence, a school may then tailor support on an individual basis; thereby improving educational outcomes. The tool not only provides the school with a clear indication in terms of the level of support a young carer requires, but may be used to present Ofsted with an evidence based account of how the school is actively supporting their vulnerable pupil category. It can also provide evidence to support pupil premium funding requests.
- Action plan – Using the information from the assessment tool a pupil centred action plan can then be developed to support each pupil with simple, time limited strategies designed to generate a significant increase in educational outcomes.
We believe that this could be a game changer and a real opportunity for schools/colleges to support their young carers; leading to better outcomes for both the school/college and the young carer. This truly is a win-win approach, and although young carers may well be a minority within a school, they are often faced with challenging family circumstances and really do deserve our support. Education offers them a temporary escape route from the caring responsibilities they have and ultimately, it can direct them on a positive pathway for career opportunities in adult life.