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Fact sheet

Current guidance on young carers for schools (England and Wales)

Young carers are at particular risk of not achieving their full education potential; consequently national guidance has increasingly called for planned and coordinated approaches to supporting this group. This section highlights some of these major pieces of guidance.

The National Carers Strategy

In 2010 the Coalition Government identified four key areas in the refreshed national strategy Recognised, Valued and Supported. These are:

  • Supporting those with caring responsibilities to identify themselves as carers at an early stage, recognising the value of their contribution and involving them from the outset both in designing local care provision and in planning individual care packages
  • Enabling those with caring responsibilities to fulfil their educational and employment potential
  • Personalised support both for carers and those they support, enabling them to have a family and community life
  • Supporting carers to remain mentally and physically well
    It should therefore be the responsibility of all staff within schools and colleges to facilitate the identification of young carers and ensure they have the support necessary to reach their education potential. For more information on this, refer to our schools resource.

Working Together to Support Young Carers (England only)

As part of a joint commitment to help take forward the National Carers Strategy, ADASS (the Association of Directors of Adult Services) and ADCS (Association of Directors of Children’s Services) developed a model Memorandum of Understanding on working together to support young carers. The Model encouraged schools to:

  • Have a named member of staff responsible with lead responsibility for young carers and to recognise this role within continuing professional development
  • Establish a policy to encourage practice that identifies and supports young carers, such as adapting school arrangements if needed, provision for personal tutors and private discussions and access to local young carers’ services.

For more information on how to implement these measures in your school, see Developing a school lead for young carers and their families (154 KB) and Developing a school policy for young carers and their families (182 KB)

Ofsted (England only)
In their paper Supporting young carers: identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of young carers and their families (2009), Ofsted reports that councils and partners should:

  • ensure that professionals within universal services are aware of the needs of young carers so they can be identified and supported
  • consider ways to ensure that adults’ and children’s services work together to deliver holistic assessments and services that meet the needs of the whole family, view assessments here.

The Education Act 2011 removed the requirements for schools to give pupils 24 hours’ notice of a detention. In the Overarching Impact Assessment for the Education Bill 2011 (444 KB), young carers are mentioned as one of the key risks to removing the 24 hour notice period. It states: “Teachers will of course need to use judgement in issuing same day detentions, to safeguard the welfare of pupils and their families, including where pupils have caring responsibilities”

Family circumstances can make transport to and from school difficult and so young carers may often be late to school or even miss it altogether. The implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (as cited in Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance DFES 2007) means that local authorities must provide adequate support to parents with disabilities who need support in getting their children to school. See Transport to and from school (154 KB) for further details.

Messages for education professionals from young carers
The following are messages for education professionals, come from The National Young Carers Forum, a group of young carers brought together in partnership with The Children’s Society in order to speak for young carers nationally

  • Understand our problems, don’t just judge us and patronise us
  • Ask me separately why my work is not in, I will explain but not in front of everyone
  • Teachers should know us and respect us
  • Be understanding and supportive, ask questions (in private) if you don’t understand
  • Don’t pressure us to tell you things
  • Treat us like other pupils but remember we have extra problems outside of school and we need extra support

Pupil premium paper (361 KB)
Identification of a young carers (178 KB)
Developing a school policy for young carers and their families (182 KB)
Developing a school lead for young carers and their families (154 KB)
Transport to and from school (154 KB)