The case for carers
Student Services at Winchester have been amazing! Since being recognised as a young adult carer, I have had support with amending deadlines when needed. I also have access to bursaries, counselling and other welfare support that they offer, if I need it. (Student carer)
- Students know what to expect
Knowing that a college or university operates a Passport scheme and seeing clearly what support will be offered to them, might well make all the difference to students in deciding whether or not they can go on to study in the first place. Many student carers will make compromises because of their caring responsibilities about where to study, which course to do and whether to study part time. Where a college or university runs a Carers Passport scheme, this is likely therefore to influence their decisions..
- Identification and accessing support
A Passport scheme will encourage student to self-identify as carers and staff will subsequently be able to identify holders of a Passport as student carers. Students will not have to keep explaining their circumstances to staff and knowing what support to expect and how to access it, they will feel more able to request support when they require it.
- Student carers need particular recognition and support
Student carers can have specific needs and face unique challenges in order to succeed at college or university. A Carers Passport has the potential to trigger and ensure that students know about, vital support within and outside of the college or university that could make the difference between remaining and succeeding on their course and dropping out.
- Support student carers’ health and wellbeing
Student Carers face additional pressures on their time and on their finances and research [link: https://professionals.carers.org/sites/default/files/young_adult_carers_at_college_and_university.pdf] has found that many student carers report experiencing poor mental health. Staff may not always be aware of these added pressures. Having a Passport will not only help identify students to staff who may then make adjustments for them if they are struggling, but will help facilitate and expedite targeted support for a student to help protect their health and wellbeing. A Passport that provides concessions for sports and leisure activities would help student carers access these and also support the health and wellbeing of students.
- Support with finances and leisure and social activities
A Passport can be a gateway for targeted bursaries and funds for student carers as in Sheffield and Winchester and could be used to offer discounts or concessions for carers that would support their education. Support with finances triggered by a Passport would help students with additional travel expenses and help them take part in extra-curricular activities and social activities which can be difficult for student carers financially. Where Passports facilitate student carers meeting up with each other, socialisation and mutual support for carers would also be improved. Sheffield Hallam University, for example, have set up a Facebook group where students can connect with other carers.
The case for colleges and universities
A Carer Passport would ensure that young carers’ individual needs are met and understood. Individual allowances could be agreed with the Head of Year and then teaching staff informed so that the young person has the correct level of support in place to allow them to achieve in education. Allowances could be: Additional support and time to complete homework; having a mobile phone on silent; not having a detention when arriving to school late due to caring role; time out from a lesson if feeling stressed etc. (Schools and Support Coordinator)
A Carer Passport can help improve a school’s communication with a young carer and their family and develop a better understanding of a student’s home situation and circumstances. Schools can then begin to address the barriers to their education that a young carer is facing. At the Stockport Academy for example, staff are able to see in one place, all the information that has been shared by a young carer related to their caring role and the impact this has on their education.
Carer Passports will bring more consistency to how schools support their students who are young carers and where the same or a similar scheme is used across an area, this will bring about a more standardised approach so that students in different schools will receive more consistent support. This also will assist young carers to continue to access a similar level of support when they move between year groups, transition to secondary school and prevent support dropping off when young carers move between schools.