Young carers call for educational equality and an end to isolation
Thousands of children and young people across the UK have taken part in activities 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 . 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. 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.
But 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.
To ensure as many young carers as possible are identified in future, Carers Trust and young carers are calling on:
- compulsory education providers to acknowledge their unique position to identify young carers at an early stage so appropriate support can start as soon as possible; and to recognise young carers as a vulnerable group of learners who require additional support so they can engage in their education and go on to lead enjoyable, fulfilled lives.
- The Scottish Government to monitor implementation of legislation relating to young carers, including how many young carers are identified and supported; and to ensure that local authorities receive appropriate funding so they are able to fulfil their statutory duties to provide young carers and their families with the support they need; and collect attendance and attainment data on all identified young carers in education.
Gareth Howells, Carers Trust CEO, said:
“I know as a former young carer myself that it’s hard enough for young carers to have to juggle all the pressures of school and exams with caring for family members. They are often dealing with complex problems which many adults would struggle to deal with – from disability and terminal illness to mental health problems, alcoholism and substance misuse.
“The need to support hundreds of thousands of young carers right across the UK could not be clearer. But far too often the needs of young carers are ignored, leaving them unnoticed and unsupported. Our colleagues in local authorities, education and government need to be doing far more to identify young carers at as early a stage as possible so they can achieve their potential at school and lead happy, fulfilled lives.”