Schools make the grade for supporting young carers

Two Oxfordshire schools have become the latest to achieve the county council’s ‘gold standard’ for supporting young carers.

Staff and pupils at Witney’s Henry Box School and Langtree School in Woodcote have received the Young Carers Gold Award for helping pupils who care for family members at home achieve their potential.

The Oxfordshire scheme, which was launched in partnership with Spurgeons Young Carers service in 2013, has been flagged up as an example of national best practice. More than 40 schools have now received training to raise awareness of issues affecting young carers and introduced effective measures to provide support.

Recognition for young carers

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families Melinda Tilley said: “Congratulations to both these schools for the work they have done to achieve the gold award. We need to recognise the role of young carers in society and that for many young people, the day-to-day realities of looking after a family member – often a parent - inevitably have an impact on all other aspects of life, not least schooling.

“There’s less time for homework and extra-curricular activities for instance, and caring commitments might also be having an impact on school attendance and attainment. The Young Carers Standard is about schools putting measures in place to identify these issues and provide the extra support that children in this situation may need to fulfil their potential.”

She added: “Understandably, children don’t always identify themselves as young carers or realise there is help available, so if schools are in a position to make these connections swiftly it can make a huge difference.”

Gold Award ‘inspectors’

In order for schools to achieve the Gold award, inspection visits are carried out by a team of young carers themselves, who interview staff and other young carers to find out how effectively schools are addressing their issues.

Young Carer Megan Collier, 17, who inspected Langtree School, said: “It was great to see the efforts the school had made, and the young carers I spoke to talked very positively about the difference this was making to their lives. I think the Young Carers School Standard is such a positive thing that really goes a long way to helping young people.

"Being a Gold Standard inspector also gives me the opportunity to help other young carers have a voice in situations where perhaps they didn’t think they had one.”

The Young Carers Standard

Under the scheme, which is delivered in partnership with Spurgeons Young Carers Service, school staff receive training and put measures in place such as:

  • Allocating a Young Carers ‘Lead’ within staff
  • Providing practical support to improve young carers’ attainment
  • Raising awareness of young carers through school assemblies
  • Providing emotional support and counselling
  • Encouraging children to discuss issues
  • Monitoring the progress of young carers through school, as a vulnerable group

Langtree and Henry Box join seven other Oxfordshire schools to have achieved the Young Carers Gold Award.

These are:

  • Fir Tree Junior School
  • Didcot Girls School
  • Bartholomew School
  • Banbury Academy
  • Cheney School
  • Gillotts School
  • Lord Williams's School