Campaign calls on government to fund schools to support young carers

Published on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 09:35
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Through its Fair Start campaign Carers Trust, the UK's largest carers' charity, is asking the government to open up the Pupil Premium to young carers and help close the gap between them and their peers. The campaign has one objective – to give young carers the chance to achieve at school.

The government has shown its commitment to young carers by improving their rights in law and pledging they will be protected from the risks to their own health and wellbeing caused by having too many caring responsibilities. In order to ensure that the Government's commitment is achieved, young carers must be identified early and supported to fulfil their potential - funding schools to do this through the Pupil Premium is the best way to achieve this.

The Pupil Premium is additional funding given to schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers. At present it does not apply to young carers. Yet it is well evidenced that young carers are disadvantaged pupils at school.

Young carers who provide unpaid care for a family member or friend often encounter barriers to their learning. On average young carers will miss half a day of school each fortnight as a result of their caring role. They are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) between 16 and 18.

Funding through the Pupil Premium will make sure these vulnerable young people are identified early, supported to access and do well at school and enabled to reach their own goals.

Anna Morris, Senior Policy and Development Manager for young carers, Carers Trust says "Carers overall save the country £119 billion a year, but young carers, who do so much for others, experience difficulties in their education and routinely achieve less academically than pupils without caring responsibilities.

"Identifying and supporting young carers through the Pupil Premium is a relatively low cost and effective way of helping them. We estimate the cost to the government would represent an increase of less than 1% spend on Pupil Premium. This money could provide young carers with the things they tell us they need in schools – simple things like greater understanding of their responsibilities, someone to talk to who will listen, homework and peer support, and things like the opportunity to phone home and check on a parent.

"The government has shown its commitment to protect young carers - now we need the mechanisms to make sure this can happen in practice. Schools are vital to identifying and supporting young carers early and the Pupil Premium is the best way to enable schools to do this effectively and help all young carers do their best at school and in their own lives."

Source: Carers Trust

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