What is a Carer Passport in college or university?
A Carer Passport in a college or university is a simple tool to help coordinate and connect up the support for student carers through an ‘organisation-wide’ approach.
It supports the early identification of students who are carers and improves staff understanding of their personal circumstances and individual needs. Once a student is identified, a Carer Passport will trigger an ‘offer’ of a range of personalised support. A Carer Passport should reflect the specific needs and circumstances of student carers - both young adult carers and mature students with caring responsibilities.
The visible form of Passport may be a card, wallet, badge or perhaps a sticker within a student’s school handbook. Linked to this will be information held by a school about the student and their individual circumstances and needs.
- Improves identification of student carers
Many colleges/universities do not know which of their students have caring responsibilities as student carers often do not wish to identify themselves as carers. A Carers Passport will improve the identification of student carers and the understanding that staff have of the circumstances and individual learning needs of student carers.
- Sets out an offer of personalised support
A Passport should trigger an assessment of a student’s needs and how the student’s situation impacts on their learning. This should feed into a clearly documented personal learning plan or ‘offer’ of support that is clearly communicated to a student, so they are clear about what they can expect.
This offer is likely to include a range of practical support and dispensations including flexibility and extensions with assignments, additional support from a Personal Tutor, support with transport and parking, and access to financial support. A Carer Passport should also be a gateway for student carers to access emotional support from pastoral staff, through counselling, or through peer support.
A Carer Passport would also trigger targeted information for students about further support for themselves as carers, including information about how to receive a Young Carers Assessment under the Children and Families Act 2014 or a Carers Assessment under the Care Act 2014.
- Improves understanding of student carers
A Passport scheme in a college or university will help to raise the awareness and understanding of all staff of the specific needs of students with caring responsibilities. A Passport will signify to all staff that a student is a carer which will prevent them having to explain their circumstances multiple times. Where an individual student holds a Passport, this should advise staff of their individual circumstances and the support that has been agreed for them by the college/university.
- Other targeted initiatives
Passports can support student carers in a number of other creative ways. These could include flexibility with entry requirements and priority with car parking arrangements and accommodation to help save student carers time. A Passport might also be the gateway for priority and flexible access to study skills support, counselling services, a mentor and equipment to support their studies.
A Carer Passport can also support student carers financially by providing information on benefits that they may be entitled to as a carer and enabling them to access funds, bursaries or scholarships available to students and which are also specific to student carers.
Passports might also act as discount cards for student carers on a university or college campus and give reduced rates for college or university activities. Where a Passport is recognised and supported across a local area this has the potential for providing student carers with concessions on sport, leisure activities and travel, as well as a range of other discounts within that area.