YCiS Guide

Supporting Young Carers in Schools

Introduction to Supporting
Young Carers in Schools:

A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff

Resource title: Supporting young Carers in School
Published: 2022 Author: Carers Trust

Welcome to Supporting Young Carers in Schools: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff.

This resource has been designed with teachers and school staff to help make the identification and support of young carers in schools as easy as possible. It is for use in primary and secondary schools in England but could be easily adapted for use in the rest of the UK.

A young carer is a person under 18 who looks after someone in their family or a friend who is ill, disabled, or has a mental health problem or an addiction.

As many as one in five pupils in the UK could be a young carer.

Often these children are caring for relatives without their teachers’ knowledge, slipping through the net, undetected by support services. The caring role they carry out means they have unique experiences and demands that impact on their capacity to enjoy and achieve at school.

Research shows that:
  • Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level – the difference between nine Cs and nine Ds (The Children’s Society, 2013).
  • 42% of young carers or young adult carers ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feel stressed (Carers Trust, 2022).
  • 27% of young carers say that they struggle to balance caring with school or college work (Carers Trust, 2022).
  • 52% said they do ‘not often’ or ‘never’ get help from school or college to balance their work (Carers Trust, 2022).
  • 34% of young carers say their school or college ‘always’ or ‘usually’ understands about them being a young carer – this means around two-thirds of young carers are spending their days in environments where they don’t feel fully understood (Carers Trust, 2022).
  • 40% said they ‘never’ or do ‘not often’ have someone at school to talk to about being a young carer or young adult carer (Carers Trust, 2022).
I often wonder, had I got support earlier, would my grades have suffered as much as they did?” Young carer

Many schools are delivering exceptional practice, making a real and positive difference to the young carers they support. Other schools have told us they want to achieve these excellent outcomes, but don’t know where to begin. This Step-by-step Guide sets out ten key steps to make identifying and supporting young carers as easy as possible.

Like other aspects of school life, the development of effective support for young carers is reliant on regular reviews of current provision and the identification
of areas for continual improvement. The steps are therefore set out as a cyclical process, which schools should engage with throughout each school year.

The Step-by-step Guide has been written in association with teachers and school staff who understand the pressures that schools face to deliver the very wide range of demands placed upon them. As a result, it is designed to be as flexible and helpful as possible. Each step is accompanied by:
  • Templates and exemplars.
  • Materials to raise staff awareness.
  • Teaching resources.
  • Pupil noticeboard material.
  • How to guides to running effective support.
The tools accompanying the Step-by-step Guide are available for schools to use and adapt to suit their school structure and local circumstances. They’re available online at youngcarersinschools.com.

Don’t forget

Not all schools will need to use all the tools included here. Some may find it more helpful to choose those that will help enhance the support they already offer to young carers and their families while others will want to simply start and build their activities over a number of years.
Young Carers in Schools is an exciting initiative in England that makes it as easy as possible for schools to identify and support young carers, and awards good practice. Run jointly by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society, we are working with schools, young carers services and local authorities to share good practice and develop relevant, accessible tools and training. The Step-by-step Guide is an update on Version 2, and it builds on and develops principles and tools from a previous resource (Phelps, D, Leadbitter, H, Manzi, D, 2010). Some of the tools linked to the guide have been taken and/or adapted from this resource. By taking part, schools can have access to:
  • A baseline review: enabling you to prioritise what to do next, this tool contains helpful signposts to the programme materials most relevant and useful to you.
  • Termly enewsletters: spotlighting key policy developments and new resources, and the very latest programme news.
  • Young Carers in Schools Award: enabling your school to showcase its provision for young carers.
  • A resources hub (youngcarersinschools.com).
Schools’ involvement in the programme has resulted in a positive impact on young carers’ wellbeing, confidence and academic attainment, and has better equipped schools around awareness, identification and support. An independent evaluation (Coram 2018) of the programme highlights the benefits of taking part:
  • 83% of young carers demonstrated an increase in confidence.
  • 85% of young carers demonstrated increased wellbeing.
  • 63% reported improvements in young carers’ achievements.
  • 73% of schools reported young carers’ classroom engagement had improved.
  • 94% of schools said staff were more likely to know what to do if they identified a young carer.
  • 94% had a better understanding of the support required for young carers.
Don’t forget to look out for this symbol throughout the Step-by-step Guide to find out how you can use the tools provided to meet the criteria in the Young Carers in Schools Award.

Phelps, D, Leadbitter H, Manzi D (2010), Supporting Young Carers: A Resource for Schools (The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and The Children’s Society).
The Children’s Society (2013), Hidden from View.
Carers Trust (2022), It’s Harder than Anyone Understands.
Coram (2018), New Research by Coram Uncovers the Positive Impact of Schools Programme Helping Young Carers to Thrive in Education. https://www.coram.org.uk/news/new-research-coram-uncovers-positive-impact-schools-programme-helping-young-carers-thrive-their