As we begin a new academic year, how can our 160+ schools who already hold a Bronze YCiS Award continue to develop their practice and their support for young carers?
The Young Carers in Schools Award is divided into three levels, Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
A Bronze level school:
Creates support within school, relatively independently, to support young carers.
A Silver level school:
Starts to work in a more multi-agency way to ensure young carers get the appropriate in-school, and out of school support.
Moving from Bronze to Silver is about establishing local and national links to enable your school to develop and improve its young carer support. It is also about ramping up the awareness raising activities that you do with pupils and staff, and demonstrating meaningful participation. Look out for future blogs that discuss different awareness raising activities you can try, and ideas for ways to consult with your young carers on the things that affect them.
Why do we need to establish links with other agencies?
One of the best ways to learn new ideas, and to continue to develop our professional skills – and consequently the support we can offer to vulnerable pupil groups – is to work with and learn from our peers. This might be other schools who can offer a different perspective, or it might be a third-sector organisation with a related but different skillset. These links can also offer new fundraising opportunities, or the chance for your pupils to participate in new and exciting activities.
Which links should I be looking to make?
The most straightforward way to begin to establish links in your local community is to get in touch with your local young carers service. You can find a list of these on The Children’s Society’s Young Carers pages. Some young carer projects will have a dedicated schools worker – indeed, that might be how you heard about YCiS in the first place! Even if they don’t, it is still important to learn how you can work together:
- Schools can refer young carers to the local project for groups, activities, and support
- Schools can facilitate a young carer’s assessment, which may be conducted by someone from the local young carers project, or the local authority
- Local projects might be able to deliver assemblies, or staff training, or come in to hold 1:1 sessions with some young carers
- Local projects might be able to give you a list of the young carers in your school that they are working with (provided the young people and their families have given consent for their information to be shared)
- Local projects might be able to help you get in touch with other schools in your area who are also working to support their young carers
It is also important to establish links that can offer different types of support. These might include:
- School nurses
- Counselling and emotional wellbeing organisations
- Sports mentors
- Art or play therapists
- Drama or creative writing groups
- CAMHS or other mental health support
- Other local schools, e.g. feeder schools, or others within your cluster or academy chain
- Representatives from Children’s Services or your LSCB
Whilst the Award Pack specifically mentions your local young carers service and healthcare support, you can be as creative as you like when setting up a working group to support the young carers in your school.
How can I show these links?
When you are building your YCiS Award application there are two things to consider here:
- How to demonstrate the links that you have built, and
- The evidence you might need to show how these links have enabled you to develop practice.
The easiest way to show the links you have built is through Working Together Agreements. You can find exemplar documents in the Step-by-step Guide. You can also use working group minutes or agendas, emails, and signed statements from the other organisation.
When you are submitting your evidence to upgrade your Award from a Bronze to a Silver, remember that the verifiers do not always know the situation or context of your school, so it is important to include this context – either in your Award Checklist, or a statement. For example, you might list the members of an informal working group, the role that each member plays, and how they came to be a part of this group.
Before and After
Demonstrating how your local and national links have helped your school to develop its practice is a bit like showing us your before and after photos!
|Assembly calendar showing 1 young carers assembly per year, on Young Carers Awareness Day.||Assembly calendar showing 1 young carers assembly per term, accompanied by a statement explaining why this change was made.|
|Evidence of a young carers group running once a month, after school.||Evidence of weekly lunchtime clubs, accompanied by feedback from the YCiS programme explaining that after school activities can be hard for young carers to access.|
|Staff safeguarding training that may or may not mention young carers.||Staff training package that includes comprehensive young carers information learned from YCiS and the local young carers service, alongside twilight sessions on stigmatised illnesses, and whole family working.|
These are just some examples of practice development that occurs in a school who works closely with their local young carers service, who consults with their young carers, and who uses the feedback from the Award applications to help them improve support.
If you have any questions about how to develop your practice, or any examples that you would like to share with other schools, please get in touch with us using YCiS@childrenssociety.org.uk