It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

What does the holiday season look like in your school? Perhaps you have shows and nativity plays. Perhaps you have carol concerts and Christmas card competitions. Perhaps your class is excitedly talking about their favourite Christmas foods and films, or the presents they expect to receive. The Christmas season, for many children, is a joyous and exciting time. But for many young people dealing with serious and complex issues the school holidays, and Christmas in particular, can be a lonely and difficult time.

Thousands of young carers across England will go without support this Christmas season, and it is hard to know what we – as teachers and support workers – can do.


First and foremost, it is important to know who the young carers in your school are. One of the best things you can do to ensure the identification of your young carers is to foster an open and stigma-free environment in school:

  • Incorporate positive images of disability and caring in PSHE lessons and assemblies
  • Raise awareness of the definition of and impacts upon young carers by holding an assembly on Young Carers Awareness Day
  • Identify a young carers’ lead in school and ensure that pupils, staff, and families know who they are.

Building a network

With an identified young carers’ lead, and an accepting and non-judgemental school environment, we can help our young carers to build strong support networks to help reduce loneliness and isolation, and to improve emotional wellbeing. There are a number of ways we can do this:

  • Advocating for, and facilitating a young carer’s assessment
  • Referring to, and working with the local young carers service
  • Running an in-school young carers group, allowing young carers to meet new friends who share similar experiences.

Young carers’ rights

When a child is identified as a young carer, offering them support in school is essential, and helping them to build a support network is important, but ultimately, we want to work with the whole family to reduce that young person’s caring role. A key part of this is understanding young carers’ rights, and working with other agencies to uphold these rights.

All young carers have the right to an assessment of their need. You can find out more about the assessment and the law on our Making a Step Change website. For more young person-friendly information on rights, download the Know Your Rights pack.

If you want more information on how to identify a young carers lead in your school or on how to set up a young carer club, you can download Supporting Young Carers: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching staff, or you can email us at Don’t wait until after Christmas to support your young carers, start today, and help them know that they are not alone over the holidays.

Carers Rights Day 2018

Carers Rights Day 2018 is focused on supporting people to prepare for their future through the theme Caring for Your Future.

Every year, organisations across the UK come together to participate in Carers Rights Day. Carers Rights Day, led by Carers UK, aims to:

  • Make carers aware of their rights
  • Let carers know where to get help and support
  • Raise awareness of the needs of carers.

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Young carers’ futures

We know from extensive research that undertaking a caring role can have serious and long-lasting impacts on a young person. Their school attendance is often significantly lower than their peers, and they obtain – on average – much lower GCSE grades. Young carers are more likely to be persistently not in education, employment, or training over two years, and in lower paid jobs in their twenties.

It is the aspiration of many young people to attend university, however many young carers who want to, do not go to university because they can’t afford to, or because they are worried about how their family will cope without them. Young carers who want to attend university might also experience ‘restricted choice.’ For example, they might wish to attend the best university for their course, but opt to stay closer to home in order to maintain their caring role, or to try to save money.

The rights of young carers  

The Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014 outline that young carers have the right to:

  • Be identified
  • An assessment of their needs
  • Have their future needs considered
  • A ‘whole family approach’.

A young carers assessment should be carried out as soon as a young person is identified as having a caring role, and part of the initial assessment, as well as any later ‘transition assessments’ should be about considering the young carer’s future needs. Do they want to study A levels or at university? What do they and their family need in order for this to be achievable?

For more in formation about the rights of young carers you can download the Know Your Rights pack for children and young people, or visit Making a Step Change for legislative guidelines.

Supporting young carers in schools

Young carers should be supported in schools

If you work in a school, you can help to improve the chances of young carers by embedding the Young Carers in Schools programme (YCiS) into practice and policy. Our results show that young carers attending a YCiS school show improved attainment, lower absence rates, and improved levels of wellbeing and confidence. The YCiS programme also improves the ability of staff to signpost young carers to appropriate help.

If you want to do more to support young carers in your school, you can start by downloading our Step-by-step Guide, which breaks down the implementation of support into manageable steps. Our blog posts Why is it important to support young carers in my school? and How planning ahead can save you time and ensure your success will give you some top tips on how to get started. And don’t forget, you can email us on with any questions.

Show your support for Carers Rights Day by tweeting us @ChildSocInclude and @CarersTrust using the hashtags #CarersRightsDay and #YCiSWorks.

Top Tips & Shout Outs!

The days are shortening, and autumn is creeping closer. As we all start hunkering down for the long nights, let’s welcome October with some practical tips, and well-earned praise.

Hello October Background

Applying for your YCiS Award

The three most important documents when applying for your Young Carers in Schools Award, are the Award Pack – a full guide to support schools to implement and evidence a Young Carers in Schools Award, containing a step by step guide to the process and a comprehensive checklist of required evidence; the Award Checklist – an editable checklist to keep track of evidence gathered and to submit alongside your application; and A guide to evidencing the Bronze Award, which breaks down the essential evidence required to achieve the Bronze Award using examples drawn from successful applications and provides ‘top tips’ for presenting the evidence.


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If (like me!) you like a good ‘to do’ list, with structured priorities, then keep in mind the following when collating your evidence:

  • Confidentiality and data protection – please do not submit any evidence which could be used to identify a young person. This includes names, faces, personal data – everything covered by GDPR. We reserve the right to return, unmarked, any applications that contain information that may breach GDPR. If you’re not sure about how to evidence something in an anonymous way, please get in touch with us at
  • Clarity and accessibility – please ensure that all the evidence you send can be clearly seen and read by our verifiers. This, especially, means that pictures should be submitted as high-resolution jpegs, so they can be enlarged, and we can see the details. It is also helpful to ensure that any files and folders are clearly named so that verifiers can make sure that they are matching the correct piece of evidence with the correct Standard.
  • Context and situation – remember, you know your school very well, but new pupils, parents and the Young Carers in Schools team do not! Think about how information is laid out on noticeboards and websites – is it obvious which members of staff a parent can contact, and how? Do children know who and where to go to seek support? Can the Award verifiers tell who is an operational lead, and who is on the senior leadership team?

Submitting your evidence

When you are ready to send your evidence and apply for a YCiS Award, remember that we can only accept electronic applications – if you send us your application on paper we will have to return it, unmarked.

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The good news is that there are a number of ways to submit your application electronically:

  • USB/CD – you can load your evidence onto a USB stick or a CD and post it to us at

Young Carers in Schools

Unit 4, Calford House,

Wessex Business Park

Wessex Way

Colden Common

SO21 1WP

  • Email – you can email your evidence to us using However, please remember that large emails, or emails from an unknown source don’t always make it through firewalls. If you don’t receive a confirmation email, or you are not sure that we have received all your evidence, please do check.
  • File-sharing – you can use a service like WeTransfer, or other online storage like GoogleDrive or DropBox, but please check that the security of the site you use conforms to your school’s guidelines on such matters.

If you have any questions about how to submit your evidence, please get in touch.

Shout Outs

Over 200 schools have now achieved a Young Carers in Schools Award, you can see all of them on our Map of Awarded Schools, including those schools who have achieved their Award over the summer holidays.

A great big Young Carers in Schools congratulations to Bardney Primary School, Lincolnshire, Berrycoombe School, Cornwall, Cale Green Primary School, Stockport, Cox Green School, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Fairfield High School for Girls, Tameside, Falconer’s Hill Academy, Northamptonshire, Holly Park Primary School, Barnet, Honley High School, Kirklees, Lemington Riverside Primary, Newcastle, Lincoln University Technical College, Lincolnshire, St. Anselm’s Catholic School, Kent, St. Faith’s C of E Infant School, Lincolnshire, Woodcote High School, Croydon, and York High School, North Yorkshire who have all received a BRONZE Young Carers in Schools Award.

And a big round of applause to Courthouse Green Primary School, Coventry, Courtwood Primary School, Croydon, and Tor Bridge Primary School, Plymouth who have all achieved a SILVER Award.


Developing your practice and upgrading your Award

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?

Leveling Up

The Young Carers in Schools Award is divided into three levels, Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

Bronze level school:
Creates support within school, relatively independently, to support young carers.

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!

Before After
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

How planning ahead can save you time and ensure your success

If your school is just beginning its YCiS journey, here’s how you can prepare for your Young Carers in Schools Award application.

Where do I start?

If your school is new to supporting young carers, it might seem like a daunting prospect. This is a group of pupils not currently eligible for Pupil Premium, but who can often be vulnerable, and who may require support in order to succeed and achieve in school. The first thing to remember is that you are not starting from scratch.

Your school undoubtedly has policies and procedures in place to support vulnerable and disadvantaged pupil groups already, and with a little tweaking these can nearly always be adapted to be accessible to young carers.

You should start by completing a Baseline Review – an audit tool that allows you to see what provision you already have in place for young carers, what provision you can adapt to suit young carers, and identify those areas you may need to improve.

You can use the Baseline Review as a working document, and keep track of your progress. Standard 5 of the Silver Award asks for “evidence of how established links with other organisations in the local community – including the young carers services and emotional well-being support – have been used to develop effective practice,” and by tracking your progress from the very beginning, you will be better able to show how you have developed effective practice.

Levelling up

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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.

A Gold level school:
Is embedding a whole-family approach, ensuring that young carers and their families are gaining the support they need to reduce the levels of inappropriate caring and allow the young person to fully access education and leisure activities.
It can be quite straightforward to gather the evidence to apply for the Bronze Award, but when you come to applying for the Silver and Gold, you will find it much easier if you have been saving your evidence along the way.

What should I be saving?


Some of the key things you should be saving are:

• Assembly and training presentations – this way you can demonstrate what information is being shared with pupils and staff.

• Dates – any young carers meetings, presentations, or training sessions. You might save the agenda, the calendar invitation, or just take a picture of the diary page.

• Feedback – whether this is feedback from staff following a training session, or feedback from young carers themselves on how they are supported within the school; you could also show us how this feedback has influenced any change or progress.

• Interventions and outcomes – Standard 1 of the Silver Award asks for evidence of your school’s monitoring of young carers’ attendance and attainment. By tracking these, and by monitoring the interventions used should a young carer’s attendance or attainment drop below a certain level, you can show us how your school is working to support your young carers to attend and achieve. You can also keep track of any referrals – particularly if they have resulted in the reduction of a young person’s caring role.

To get a more comprehensive idea of the evidence you are required to provide, you should review each of the levels in the Award Pack.

Top tips when applying for a YCiS Award

The next submission deadline for Award applications is Friday 25th May. Find out more about submitting an application.

• Any photos you submit must be clear, high-resolution jpeg or png files.
• Be mindful of the new GDPR regulations, and do not share any information with us that could be used to identify an individual without their explicit consent.
• Label all your files clearly, and submit your evidence in five folders: one for each Standard of the level you are applying for.

If you have any questions about supporting young carers in your school, or about applying for a Young Carers in Schools Award, please email us on

Shout Outs!

Congratulations to Basildon Upper Academy, Essex, Easthampstead Park Community School, Bracknell Forest, George Spicer Primary School, Enfield, Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School, Kingston upon Thames, and Senacre Wood Primary School, Kent, who all achieved a Bronze Young Carers in Schools Award this month!

And a special congratulations to St. Damian’s RC Science College, Tameside, who achieved a GOLD Young Carers in Schools Award!


What’s next for the Young Carers in Schools programme

As we enter a new financial year, it is a time for reflecting on our achievements of the past 12 months, and looking forward to our goals for the next.

Impacts and achievements

Over the last year, YCiS has continued to positively impact upon the lives of young carers across England by providing a framework of identification and support in many schools. 190 schools have now achieved a Young Carers in Schools Award, including our very first Gold-Awarded PRU, Educational Diversity in Blackpool.


We have also run professional development and training events, published resources and toolkits, and continued to place the voices of young people at the heart of what we do.

The voices of young carers

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From the very beginning of the programme, we have consulted with young carers to find out what really matters to them. We do this at the Young Carers Festival, run annually by The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Manor, where last year 112 young people spoke to us about their school, and the support that they receive.

We also involve young carers at our Quality Assurance panels, where young people are invited to review a selection of YCiS Award applications, and quality assure the marking. If you would be interested in attending or hosting a Quality Assurance panel at your school or project, please get in touch with us at

What’s next?

Over the next year, some of our work will continue unchanged, with the team continuing to accept Award applications on the last working day of each half term. We also plan to continue our Quality Assurance panels with young carers.

New resources are planned, including our Local Authority Toolkit, with tools and guidance to support local authorities to implement their duties under the Children and Families Act 2104 and the Care Act 2014 by working in partnership with young carers services and Young Carers in Schools. This is planned for publication in late spring/early summer.

We are also updating our Young Carers in Schools: A guide to evidencing the Bronze Award, and adding a whole new guide! Think of this like a video game walkthrough.

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Designed to be used in conjunction with the Award Pack, Young Carers in Schools: A guide to evidencing the Silver Award combines top tips and good practice examples drawn from real-life applications, to help you to apply for and achieve the Silver Young Carers in Schools Award.

“The guide and exemplification were really helpful.”

“I found that the guide to evidencing the award was extremely helpful and this became my ‘bible’.”

“The examples of evidence required made it easy to understand what was expected.”

The first edition of the Bronze guide has already supported a number of schools to achieve an Award. Download your copy today by clicking the link above.

Applying for a YCiS Award

The next submission deadline for Award applications is Friday 25th May. Find out more about submitting an application.

Shout Outs!

Congratulations to Fordbridge Community Primary School, Solihull, St. Augustine’s School, North Yorkshire, and Wright Robinson College, Manchester, who all achieved a Bronze Young Carers in Schools Award this month!


Why is it important to support young carers in my school?

With statistics suggesting that as many as 1 in 12 pupils could be a young carer, and with UK children spending around 700 hours per year in school, it is more important than ever that young carers be supported in schools.

Who are young carers?

According to the Children and Families Act, the official definition of a young carer is ‘…a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (of any age, except where that care is provided for payment, pursuant to a contract or as voluntary work).’ The care that they provide could be due to a physical or mental illness, a disability, or the misuse of alcohol or substances.

Children can be caring from as young as five years old, and in some cases, even younger. According to the 2011 census, 13% of young carers are under the age of 10, 54% of young carers are aged between 10 and 15, and 33% are aged 16-17.

The number of hours per week that a child might spend caring can also vary, with 62% caring for up to 5 hours per week, 30% caring for between 5 and 15 hours per week, 5% for 15-30 hours per week, and 3% caring for more than 30 hours per week.

What effect can caring have on a young person’s life?

Depending on who they care for, the reasons why they are caring, and how much care they provide, a young person can be affected in a number of ways. They might experience physical injury, such as back pain from lifting. They might suffer from interrupted sleep. They are more likely than their peers to experience mental ill health, and often report feeling worried, tired, and stressed. Young carers also experience a number of educational difficulties, such as lateness, absence, lower attainment, and bullying.

Supporting young carers in school

Our evidence has shown that by implementing the Young Carers in Schools (YCiS) programme, schools can improve not only the attendance and attainment of their young carers, but also their wellbeing, confidence, and how easy they find it to make and keep friends. Schools can use the free tools and resources provided by YCiS, they can access webinars and display materials, and they can participate in an Award scheme to recognise their achievements.

By starting small, and embedding young carers support in a sustainable way throughout the whole school community, schools can make a huge difference in these young people’s lives.

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What can I do?

You can start today by ensuring that your school has a dedicated young carers lead – this could be a family support worker, an inclusion manager, or any other member of staff. The lead’s name should be clearly identifiable to pupils, staff, and families. The lead should be available to talk to young carers at set times throughout the school day – remember, not all young carers will be available before and after school!

If you are unsure of who is best placed to be a young carers lead, or you have any other questions about supporting young carers in your school, email

Overview of the Programme

Carers Trust has joined together with The Children’s Society to run the Young Carers in Schools programme to equip schools to support young carers and award effective practice.  This innovative, national programme of training and accreditation is funded by The Queen’s Trust and the Big Lottery Fund.

Who are Young Carers?

Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide care and emotional support to someone who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances. Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. There are believed to be many more young carers than official figures show.

Young carers are a vulnerable and disadvantaged group, who often experience difficulties in their education.  Without support, they can struggle to attend school and make good progress and a quarter of young carers have said they are bullied because of their caring role.

Research from The Children’s Society (2013) shows that:

  • Around 1 in 20 young carers miss school because of their caring responsibilities.
  • They have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level – the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s.
  • They are more likely that the national average not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) between 16 and 19.
  • A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at school because of their caring role.

About the Programme

The programme aims to increase the awareness of young carers in schools, for both staff and pupils, meaning that:

  • Young carers attend and enjoy school and reach their full potential.
  • Schools are enabled to identify and support young carers.
  • Young carers have improved wellbeing and are better prepared for independent lives.
  • Parents and carers are supported to enable their children to attend school.
  • A school culture which is fully accessible, understands and respects disability and caring.
  • Young carers have the same life opportunities as other children.

Participating in the Young Carers in Schools programme will demonstrate that your school is meeting the needs of a particularly vulnerable group of pupils. Through the programme you will also have access to:

  • “Steps to Success”: A step by step guide to setting up an effective model of identification and support, with accompanying templates, tools and exemplars.
  • Expert regional networks bringing together schools, young carer services, and health and social care professionals for peer-to-peer learning and training.
  • The Young Carers in Schools Award, enabling your school to gain recognition from several leading charities for effective practice.

Key Dates

2014-2015 – The programme starts piloting at the early implementation sites [link to news page with list of sites].

February 2015 – The launch of “Steps to Success”.

September 2015 – National roll-out of Young Carers in School Award. Prior to the national roll-out of the award all schools and their partners can access the “Steps to Success”, their regional networks and the resources.