We created a support system:
- Initially we started with an open invite to lunch for anyone caring for or looking after someone at home. Once the children who occasionally babysit their younger siblings had realised that young carers were in a different situation, they self-selected not to come;
- We started with providing lunch for the young carers that came, but now the group is so large that they tend to bring their own lunch and we offer occasional drinks and cake. The group meets half-termly. We also operate a drop-in so young carers can access support whenever they need it.
- We put a box on the admissions form so that parents have to actually engage with the question of whether their child cares for someone in the home. This information is passed on to heads of year and tutors to ensure that they are aware and build a relationship with the home;
- Young Carers are flagged on SIMs so all teaching staff are aware;
We see being a young carer as a positive thing, building skills other children will not necessarily have, and recognising that they are the same as others but do more. We do not see it as something that should be an excuse, but may be explains behaviour; if a child has spent the night in A&E with a parent they won’t have done homework; preparing an evening meal for the family may make attending revision classes difficult.
- We run homework clubs to support children that may struggle to find space and time at home. We are sensitive to deadlines, and support the children to plan these in, being aware and marking work for these groups early if possible to allow them maximum time;
- We support children with late buses and taxis to ensure that they can access the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities;
- We work hard with parents to foster high aspirations for their children;
- We are aware that the sibling/parenting role may be blurred, and are therefore proactive in ensuring that children recognise this when younger siblings join the school; we also support the carer emotionally in this situation, so they recognise it is acceptable for them not to be responsible for their sibling in school, and also that their sibling needs to be able to grow in confidence and independence too;
- We ensure that there is specific CPD for all staff, including new teachers to our school, NQTs and ITT;
- We run regular assemblies to heighten awareness, responding to advice and input from the young carers themselves;
- We hold events to support the issues arising from being a young carer, from Stamp Out Ignorance days (we all wore boots!), Random Acts of Kindness days to ensure that the ethos of the school reflects the needs of the children. We also have visitors in to speak about issues raised by the students, e.g. motor neurone disease, medications, etc.
- We promote the role of young carers within the wider community, through the radio, press, etc.