POTTERS Gate Primary School in Farnham has been presented with a Bronze award for its work to make sure students don’t miss out on an education because they are young carers.
The Young Carers in Schools programme helps primary and secondary schools improve outcomes for young carers and celebrates good practice through the Young Carers in Schools Award.
Carly Harries of Potters Gate said: “We realise that many of our children are young carers and our job in school is to support them and their families. Some of our young carers need extra help with learning while others merely like a friendly chat from time to time.
“They all enjoy our regular lunchtime young carer meetings where they spend time together and support each other. We are thrilled to have been recognised for our work in this area.”
Young carers are responsible for emotional, practical or physical care for a parent, sibling or other family member who has a physical disability, mental health issue or substance misuse issue.
The 2011 Census statistics revealed that there are just over 166,000 young carers in England, but research reveals that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The true figure could be closer to 700,000 young carers in England, equivalent to one in 12 school children many of whom are unrecognised and unsupported.
Recent research carried out by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society shows that, on average, young carers miss or cut short 48 school days a year and often have lower levels of self-confidence, mental well-being and significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, because of their caring role.
Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework states that inspectors will look at how well schools support young carers. While some are doing this really well, others struggle and this causes real problems for young carers.
To help schools support young carers, the programme offers a step-by-step guide for leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff, with practical tools designed to make it as easy as possible for schools.
Staff can also receive training through webinars and events and the programme also features a newsletter each term highlighting relevant policy developments, spotlighting good practice and giving updates on the programme’s successes.
A spokesperson for the awards said: “To achieve their Bronze Award Potters Gate School has demonstrated that it supports young carers in many ways, including homework clubs and drop-in sessions with a member of staff who is responsible for this vulnerable group of pupils.
“Vital information about how to identify young carers is made available to all school staff, and noticeboards and the school webpage let students and their families know where to go for help”.