Research we have carried out in partnership with University Campus Suffolk (UCS) reveals that the more support young carers receive at school, the better they feel and the more they achieve.
The research took place between 2014 and 2015. School staff, parents and young carers were interviewed before and after targeted support from Suffolk Family Carers. The aim was to see if the ongoing nature of this support was both valuable to the schools but also if it significantly affected the attendance, attainment and behaviour of the young carers whilst they were at school.
The report, It’s different for them but normal for us, reveals that the ongoing nature of the support provided, with sustained support from our team, significantly improved the experiences of young carers in school and put parent’s minds at rest. In one school 75% of the 20 young carers identified showed improved school attendance over the period of the research.
We used our ‘schools award’ programme in the research to encourage schools to provide targeted support for young carers including the implementation of specific policies to identify young carers and the development of staff so they are more aware of young carers and what signs to look out for which may suggest a young person is caring for someone. We offer bronze, silver, gold and platinum awards to the schools it works closely with.
Claire Fraser Lim, Young Carers Project Manager here at Suffolk Family Carers says, “We are very pleased to have carried out this research in collaboration with UCS as it has highlighted the need for ongoing and sustained support for young carers in schools. Young Carers spend a lot of time in school and, at present, there is a lack of research which considers the effect that targeted support in this area can have. We are pleased to have highlighted the importance of this with our schools award and would like to encourage more schools to get on board and proactively support young carers to improve their attainment, attendance and behaviour. We hope this research will encourage more schools to sign up to our ‘schools award’ programme and start supporting young carers in Suffolk’.
Talking about the Schools Award, one young carer said “I think it has raised awareness. I hope the school improves from this point not only with young carers but with pupils in general, and takes care of the pupils and helps them.”
Dr Allison Boggis, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Children, Young People and Education at UCS, designed and consulted on the research and collated and analysed the data. She says “Recent research from the National Carers Association revealed that there are more young carers caring for family members than we had imagined and the roles they take on are far more complex than we had anticipated. This follow-up study showed how isolated the young carers in our county felt before the interventions of Suffolk Family Carers. The data clearly showed that raising staff awareness in schools significantly impacted on young carers. Their attendance increased and their sense of well-being improved knowing that there was someone they could talk to who understood what they were going through. Ongoing support is vital.”
The report ‘It’s different for them, but normal for us’ is available to download from the University Campus Suffolk website www.ucs.ac.uk/carers2016 and also from the link below
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