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Back to school: Charities create tips for teachers to help young carers

The Children’s Society (@ChildrenSociety) and @CarersTrust have teamed up to help teachers give more support to young carers as they come back to school this September.

Research suggests as many as one in five pupils in secondary schools in England are young carers. Because of the high numbers, the charities, who jointly run the Young Carers in Schools initiative, have produced a short, practical guide for school staff to enable them to help these young people. It covers four main areas, which are:

  • How to identify and safeguard young carers
  • How to support attendance
  • How to encourage and improve attainment
  • How to increase their wellbeing

The guidance comes at a time when many young carers are coming back to the classroom for the first time since March 2020.

During the coronavirus crisis, many young carers have faced a particularly stressful time. They may have experienced an increase in their caring responsibilities or found themselves giving care for the first time.

Research[1] carried out in July by Carers Trust into the impact of the coronavirus crisis on young carers found:

  • 40% of young carers aged 12 to 17 said their mental health was worse as a result of coronavirus
  • 66% of young carers aged 12 to 17 felt more stressed as a result of coronavirus
  • 58% of young carers aged 12 to 17 reported they were caring on average for an extra ten hours a week since the start of the pandemic.

In addition, young carers may also have faced longer periods of isolation, as the loved ones they care for were in high risk categories for the virus.

Helen Leadbitter, The Children’s Society lead for Young Carers, said:

“We know for many young carers lockdown was a very lonely time, school was often seen as a place for them to have a break from caring roles and seek support from teachers and friends. Others may be new to caring roles and with schools and other support groups closed these young people will have remained hidden with no one to reach out to for support. It is therefore vital teachers recognise the signs of a young carer and understand how best to support their needs.”

Laura Bennett, Head of Policy and External Affairs, at Carers Trust, said:

“Schools worked hard during lockdown to support their pupils, including young carers. As schools get back to full strength, these easy to use, free, resources, will make a real difference to teachers and young carers. They will help schools identify young carers. And in doing that, they will also boost young carers’ attendance and attainment, which is at risk without the right support at school.” 

The guidance, which has been issued to schools via the Department for Education (DfE) can also be found here.

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