Awareness and good practice have increased in schools over the past ten years, aided by the inclusion of young carers in Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework (2015), the national Young Carers in Schools (YCiS) programme and many local young carer services working collaboratively with schools. This means that leading schools are now delivering an offer to young carers, some of which are already described as a ‘Carer Passport.’
However, there is no consistent offer across schools in England and no current national mechanisms in place to ensure that young carers and young adult carers are routinely identified and supported to the same level.
The Young Carers in School programme (YCiS)
Young Carers in Schools is a free England-wide programme that makes it as easy as possible for schools to support young carers and rewards good practice. The free programme run jointly by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society, works with schools across England and Wales to share good practice, provide relevant tools and training, and to celebrate the great outcomes that many schools achieve for young carers. A comprehensive set of tools are available for schools to use and adapt for supporting students who are young carers and delivering a Carer Passport scheme, for example tools for assessing young carers and assisting information sharing.
Stockport Academy which has around 1150 students has identified 45 students who are young carers, and staff are able to see at a glance which students are young carers using an online mapping tool.
A Young Carer Passport scheme is run which provides staff with information about how a student’s caring role might affect their learning. Assessment tools are used with young carers to understand the impact of their caring role, and with the agreement of young carers, this information is fed into a ‘One-Page Profile’ which is stored electronically for staff to access. Young carers are reviewed on a termly basis to ensure their information is up to date.
Young carers and their parents where appropriate, are regularly offered concessions or free school trips and other extracurricular opportunities that arise for young carers. The school which is considering whether to introduce a physical card for students also sees the potential for a similar Passport scheme to be delivered by it feeder primary schools. Young carers has now become a ‘comfortable topic’ at the school where caring by young people is perceived as something that is common and normal.
Calderdale Young Carers Service administer a Young Carer Passport to support the education of young carers in schools. Currently 176 young carers hold a Passport and X schools - trained by the carer service - participate in the scheme. When a young carer starts receiving support from the service, they are given an application form for the Passport. The family and young carer complete this form and pass it to the school and a conversation
between the family and the school is initiated. The school returns the application form to the young carer service who then allocate a Passport to the young carer.
The Passport itself is a plastic card set within a wallet that sets out three potential areas of support a young carer may require; flexibility with homework, ‘time-out’ from class, and access to a phone to enable them to check on the person they are care for. Crucially, the Passport prevents students having to explain anything in front of their class, which can be difficult and can act as a barrier for young carers requesting help. A member of staff signs the back of the Passport each time it is used.
Winchester & District
The Winchester and District Young Carers Project administer a ‘Young Carers ID Card’ in secondary schools within the Winchester District. The credit card sized card gives students a range of ‘personalised allowances’ to support their learning and help them concentrate including extensions for homework, ‘time-out’ of a lesson and being able to phone the person they care for. If a young carer receives a detention, the Card will allow this to take place during a lunchtime rather than after school. The allowances are agreed between the young carer service and the school Heads of Year and are written on the reverse of the card. Staff understand the reasons why students need particular support, so it is not necessary for students to have to explain things each time in front of peers. Instead, students show staff their card or place it on their table. At The Westgate School, young carers can also join a structured eight week targeted support programme.
A Young Carers Card instigated by the Youth Council in the City of York is administered by York Carers Centre in schools and colleges across the city. The cards, allocated by the carer service gives students a range of allowances when it is shown to school staff. With appropriate permissions from students and their parents, the young carer service shares a list of students who are young carers with the City Council who hold a central list of young carers in the City. Millthorpe School in the city has introduced a blue circular badge for pupils to wear discretely and which functions in the same way as the card. Some of the staff who have been trained now also wear a ‘Carer Aware’ badge.
A separate card scheme is run by York Carers Centre that local businesses are signed up to and which provides young carers with a range of discounts across the City.