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Young Carers. What are their needs? How can schools support this?. Who are young carers?. “ Young carers are children and young persons under 18 who provide, or intend to provide, care, assistance or support to another family member. They carry out, often

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young carers

Young Carers

What are their needs?

How can schools support this?

who are young carers
Who are young carers?

“Young carers are children and young persons under 18

who provide, or intend to provide, care, assistance or

support to another family member. They carry out, often

on a regular basis, significant or substantial caring tasks

and assume a level of responsibility, which would usually

be associated with an adult. The person receiving care is

often a parent but can be a sibling, grandparent or other

relative who is disabled, has some chronic illness, mental

health problem or other condition connected with a need

for care, support or supervision.”

“A young carer becomes vulnerable when the level of

care-giving and responsibility to the person in need of care

becomes excessive or inappropriate for that child, risking

impacting on his or her physical well-being or educational

achievement and life chances.”


Trying to balance caring responsibilities while growing up can have a significant impact on a young person’s health and wellbeing. At school, attendance, behaviour and achievement can all be affected. Ofsted recommends that councils and partners should ensure that professionalswithin universal services are aware of the needs of young carers so that they can be identified and supported.The key to supporting pupils who are young carers is through early preventative work andsupporting families in ways that prevent inappropriate caring.

Who are they?
  • Of the UK’s 175,000 young carers, over 50,000 - 29% – are estimated to care for a family member with mental health problems.
  • With 13,000 caring for more than 50 hours per week
  • Between 25% and 50% of children living with a parent with severe mental ill-health will experience some form of psychological disorder during their childhood or adolescence, and between 10% and 14% will be diagnosed with a psychotic illness during their lifetime.
  • 7% of young carers aged 11–15 experience educational difficulties or miss school, rising to 40% where children are caring for a relative with drug or alcohol problems.
  • Research by the National Centre for Social Research found that one of the main characteristics of bullying victims aged between 14 and 16 was that they had a caring responsibility.
Will I know which pupils are

young carers?

It is possible that you will not know that one or more of

your pupils is a young carer. This could be for several

reasons, such as:

● The young person may be reluctant to draw attention

to their family situation

● The pupil may not recognise themselves to be a

young carer

● The degree of caring may alter according to family need.

“I don’t want to be different, I am worried they will just

tease me again about Mum and the way she is … so I just

keep quiet.”

(Young carer)

what tasks might young carers have to undertake at home
What tasks might young carershave to undertake at home?

● Personal care – such as giving medication, changing dressings, assisting with mobility

● Emotional support – monitoring and meeting the emotional needs of the person

● Intimate care – washing, dressing and assisting with toilet requirements

● Household chores – including washing, cooking and cleaning on behalf of the whole family, household administration including paying bills

● Childcare – helping to care for younger siblings, including escorting to school, in addition to other caring tasks

● Other – Acting as an interpreter at medical appointments for a family member who has communication impairments or whose first language is not English.

how might a young carer s academic performance and life at school be affected
How might a young carer’s academicperformance and life at school be affected?

Inappropriate levels of care impact on a child’s own emotional or physical well-being or educational achievement and life chances.

It is possible that a young person’s caring responsibilities will mean that they may:

● Have difficulties completing homework on time

● Arrive late to school

● Need to take days off

● Be constantly tired

● Be unable to concentrate in class

● Find their parents are unable to attend parents’ evenings

● Experience being stigmatised or bullied

● Underachieve academically

● Have behavioural difficulties

● Experience bullying/isolation

● May be unable to attend extra-curricular activities

It is important to remember that your school doesn’t need to do everything. Instead it should aim to involve a range of professionals, and local and national agencies to provide a broad spectrum of support.


There is much anecdotal evidence of young carers underachieving at school from those working with young carers and former young carers themselves. Currently very few schools are monitoring the achievement of this particular vulnerable group.

Withdrawn and unnoticed

Some young carers become very quiet and withdrawn and some may immerse themselves in their work and be seen as model students.


Missing schoolMissing schoolYoung carers can miss significant amounts of their education due to their family situation and caring role. This may involvemissing large chunks of school or frequent shorter absences. It is likely hat a proportion of school absence is due to young carers who may bestruggling to jugglethe combined demands of caring and education. Some young carers are physically present in school, yet admit to feeling unable to access their education fully due to worry or stress. They may also find accessing extra curricular activities difficult or impossible due to caring demands,financial reasons, or because of transport difficulties.Missing deadlinesYoung carers sometimes find meeting homework and coursework deadlines difficult, because ofthe additional demands on them at home. They may not cope with the accumulative stress oftrying to juggle home and school life.


Young carers are often the victims of bullying at school. Some young carers are bullied because of the condition or illness of the person they care for, whilst others can be bullied because they appear to lack social skills or seem more mature than young people of the same age. Social isolation at school will impact on a young carer’s well-being and their ability to engage fully in school.

Behavioural issues

Some young carers may react with negative behaviour. They may keep negative feelings to themselves to protect their parents from additional stress and anxiety but may not be able to keep their feelings in at school.

Bereavement and loss

It is important to remember that although young carers (and families) may try hard to juggle their responsibilities, including keeping up with their education, sometimes it is the latter that falls off the list of priorities when up against other issues such as the fear of a bereavement, or bereavement itself.

what can we do as a school or schools worker
What can we do as a schoolor schools worker?

Have a named staff member with lead responsibility for young carers

● to ensure that they have the same access to a full

education and career choices as their peers; and

● to be responsible for promoting and co-ordinating

the support they need and liaising with other agencies

as appropriate.

As a whole school Become informed

Support the individual pupil

“Please don’t tell everyone about our family, we want

schools to support us but to respect our privacy and we

don’t want to be seen as ‘different’.”

(Young carer)

barriers to learning and possible solutions
Barriers to learning and possible solutions

Poor attendance, due to:

• the caring role or a secondary consequence of the caring role.

• a psychological or emotional barrier.

• transport difficulties.

• Early identification.

• Refer to adults’ and/or children’s services to

obtain more support in the home.

• Referrals to other agencies and professionals.

• Amend home to school transport policies to

reflect needs in relation to transport difficulties.

Limited or no access to clubs and

extended schools opportunities.

• Ensure adequate transport and respite care

provision to help young carers to participate.

Isolation and feelings of detachment from other children. Bullying which can be directly related to a young carer’s caring role.

• Lunchtime or after-school peer support group for

young carers.

• Peer mentoring support (train peer mentors in

young carers issues).

• Adequate transport and respite care provision

to help young carers participate in after school


• Signposting to

• Available staff to talk to in confidential settings.

Financial constraints at college due to family situation, little time for a

part-time job, together with being unable to claim Carer’s Allowance.

Support through the 16–19 Bursary Fund discretionary element, pupil premium.

The pressure to complete homework/coursework deadlines competes with the caring role.

• Negotiate deadlines for homework at times

when the pupil’s caring role increases. Sometimes young carers need some flexibility.

• Refer to external agencies for more support in home.

Space at home is limited or an adequate working environment may

not be available, due to financial constraints or because the care

needs of a parent or sibling make concentration at home difficult.

• Homework support club

Financial constraints, including lack of resources such as a computer,

money for school trips.

• Consider financial bursaries or grants, such as


• Consider loan of equipment.

Reduced support from home, due to the family being preoccupied with

the illness or disability of the person being cared for.

• Extra support with work and/or homework

support club.

• Lunchtime or after school peer support group for

young carers.

• Parenting support groups to be coordinated

in schools.

anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression.

• Meet with family and if needed:

– refer to health services such as GP and/or

Child and Adolescent Mental HealthServices


Tiredness, stress, worry or low concentration.

• Meet with family and if needed:

– refer to social services, health services and voluntary sector organisations, where appropriate.

• More agency support for the family.

• Family respite.

• Available staff to talk to in confidential setting.

• Allow young carers to telephone home if they

are worried about a family member.

The feeling that no one understands their experiences and that

professionals do not listen.

• Available staff to talk to in confidential settings.

• Peer mentoring support (train peer mentors in

young carers issues).

• Signposting to

Young carers displaying behavioural issues which are related to caring

role. Feelings of guilt, anger, resentment and confusion.

• Available staff to talk to in confidential settings.

• Behavioural support.

• Family mediation.

• Age-appropriate information on relevant illnesses

and conditions provided in a timely manner.

Difficulties in attending parents evenings and other school functions,

due to disability, long-term illness, or because the event clashes with a

medical appointment.

• Ensure school parents’ evenings are accessible

to parents with disabilities or who find it difficult to

leave the house without support.

• Consider alternatives, such as home visits and

phone calls where appropriate to support and

encourage parents to attend.


Parents unable to engage, due to communication impairments or

language barriers.

• Plan communication with family.

• Provide interpreters and/or translators at school

events and in communications.

• Use large print newsletters, audio/podcast

information bulletins.

what young carers say
What Young Carers Say.

1. Recognise that our responsibility as carers can affect our education and schoolwork.

2. Find out about us, what we need and how we are not like other students.

3. Take time to find out about individual problems

at home. Sometimes we’re too embarrassed to tell you ourselves.

4. Don’t automatically punish us if we’re late. Sometimes we can’t help being late because we’re helping out at home.

5. Provide more support such as lunchtime drop-ins or homework clubs.

6. Be flexible – give us more time and help to do homework or coursework.

7. Include information about young carers and disability issues in PHSE lessons.

8. Let us phone parents if we need to find out if they are OK.

9. Make sure there is a clear and up to date community notice board which has support

10. Ensure teachers are offered training on young carers and disability issues both at university and on inset days.