Oakley Primary Academy is the first school to be awarded Carers in Bedfordshire’s Young Carer Schools Award.
The charity, with young carers, devised ten standards for schools to meet, to enhance young carers’ education and participation in school life. Oakley Primary Academy, part of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT), achieved all the criteria and were presented with the award on Friday (21 January).
A young carer looks after someone in their family who is unable to cope without their support, such as a brother, sister, or a parent. On average, there are two young carers in every classroom and must manage a lot of responsibilities and pressure at a young age. They may experience isolation, difficulties coping at home, problems at school or lack of social experiences. Research has highlighted:
- More than a quarter of young carers miss school or experience educational difficulties (40 per cent where children care for a relative with drug or alcohol problems).
- A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at schools because of their caring role.
- Young carers are more likely than the national average not to be in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 19.
- Young carers have significantly lower attainment at GCSE level.
Janice Styles, Young Carers Coordinator at Carers in Bedfordshire, said: “We are so pleased to present our first Young Carer Schools Award to Oakley Primary Academy, to recognise the teachers as young carer-friendly. Oakley embeds good practice across the school, in meeting the needs of this vulnerable group. Supporting young carers is so important and has been highlighted in Ofsted’s Inspection Framework. The teachers at Oakley have been wonderful in developing a culture of acceptance, understanding and support for young carers.
“For young carers, school can be a place where they are under extra pressure or where people do not understand what their life is like outside of school. We developed the Schools Award, as there are lots of ways schools can help young carers. Examples include being allowed to use a phone during breaks and lunchtime, so the young carer can check on the person they’re looking after or running a lunchtime group or homework support group for young carers.”
Sarah Litchfield, Principal of Oakley Primary Academy, said: “I am extremely proud of our school for achieving this award for the support we provide young carers. We understand the pressure they are under at home and the huge amount of responsibility they take on, which can sometimes have an impact on their education. We give our young carers as much help and support as possible, to allow them to be able to carry out their caring role, alongside their schooling.
“As part of our support, we have a young carer link worker and encourage pupils to speak to us if they are a young carer so that we can put the appropriate support in place to meet their individual needs. We also work alongside families to help spot young carers and use posters and assemblies to help them self-identify with their role, as some children may not even realise they are a young carer when looking after a loved one becomes part of their family life.
“We also provide our young carers with homework extensions when needed, can adjust start times and allow them to check on the person they care for if necessary. This is all part of the school’s ethos that every child should have the opportunity to strive, achieve and flourish, to fulfil their potential and make a real difference.”
Find out more about the Young Carers Schools Award.