Opinions

Young carers call for educational equality and an end to isolation

Written by: Kelly Munro, Education Officer (Primary & Secondary), Carers Trust

Published: 29/01/2020

Learn more about Carers Trust Scotland's Count Me In! campaign calling on compulsory education providers to do more for young carers.

The call comes on Young Carers Awareness Day, an annual event led and organised by Carers Trust and supported by partner organisations such as the ALLIANCE Scotland. The day aims to raise awareness of the pressures experienced by young carers – children who need to look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.

Thousands of children and young people across the UK will take part in activities today to highlight the need for far more support for young carers from government, schools and local authorities.

Count Me In! Young carers call for educational equality in UK schools

Scottish Government figures estimate the number of young carers in Scotland to be around 29,000. However, further research by Carers Trust shows that as many as one in five secondary school children may be a young carer. You can read more about this research conducted by Nottingham University and BBC News here (this link will take you away from our website). For many, the caring journey begins long before they reach secondary school.

But whatever their age, the need to provide care can have a negative impact on the wellbeing, education and future prospects of young carers. Their caring responsibilities all too often lead to an inability to complete homework, late arrival at school or even non-attendance.

Research indicates that young carers on average receive lower grade in their public exams than their peers who do not have caring responsibilities at home. You can read more about this research carried out by the Children’s Society here (this link will take you away from our website).

Despite the challenges faced by young carers, far too many remain unidentified and hidden away from support. These problems are less likely to build up if young carers are proactively identified as early as possible. Once identified, young carers’ circumstances at home can be better understood. This will help schools ensure that young carers are receiving the additional support they need to address their vulnerability to lower than average educational attainment.

Carers Trust Scotland have been working in partnership with Strategic Education Stakeholders including Education Scotland, The General Teaching Council for Scotland, COSLA and universities to raise awareness of young carers and their rights. This has also included delivering young carer awareness training to over 300 student and probationer teachers nationally.

With support from local carers centres across Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland have also developed a Digital Education Hub which will be launching soon.  It has been designed as a resource for all education professionals to help identify and support young carers in schools nationally. There is a range of tools such as school awards, lesson plans, presentations, e-modules as part of Continuing Professional Development training, school charters and information on local young carer services. There is also guidance, information and copies of Young Carer Statements. In April 2018, the Scottish Government launched the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, this means that young carers in Scotland have the right to a Young Carer Statement. If a young carer is identified a young carer in a classroom or school, they should be offered the opportunity to have a Young Carer Statement prepared which will highlight any support needs they may have.  Look out for Young Carers Awareness Day activity, links and updates about the Digital Education Hub on social media channels @CarersTrustScot.

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