15 May 2014

Tens of thousands of children providing unpaid care for parents, siblings and family members will be prevented from slipping under the radar of teachers in classrooms up and down the country - because of a far-reaching new schools programme.

The Children’s Society and Carers Trust worked alongside other charities to launch the Young Carers in Schools Programme, providing education staff with resources and training to make sure young carers get vital support.

A staggering 166,363 children in England are caring for their parents, siblings and family members according to the latest Census data.

The organisations behind the initiative – Carers Trust and Young Carers in Focus led by The Children’s Society – believe this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Recent analysis reveals that young carers are lagging behind in school and missing out on their childhoods because of the demands placed on them. This includes:

  • Around one in 20 young carers miss school because of the amount of support they have to provide at home₁.
  • Young carers also have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level - the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers₂.
  • A quarter (26%) of young carers were bullied because of their caring role₃.

To coincide with the launch, statistics released today show the extent of young carers in every part of the country

The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: 'An alarming amount of young carers are having their lives turned upside down, juggling school work and looking after their loved ones.

'We care passionately about their welfare and exposing the scale of the issue is simply not enough. That is why we are working with schools to improve the support these young carers get so that it is consistent across the country. One young carer slipping under the radar is one young carer too many.'

Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said: 'This programme will help schools to stop and think about how taking on the responsibilities of caring impacts on every aspect of a young carer’s life. We will be working closely with schools to ensure they have the guidance, resources and training they need to support young carers and ensure they can achieve their potential.'

Schools can apply for a bronze, silver and gold Young Carers in Schools Award, as part of the programme.

Schools and local authorities interested in taking part in the Young Carers in Schools Programme should visit youngcarer.com

Ends

Media enquiries

Interview opportunities
Central Bedfordshire Council is one of the first local authorities in England to implement the Young Carers in Schools Programme. Young carers from some of the local schools and a head teacher who has been involved with the programme are available for interview opportunities on Friday, 16 May, 9:30am.

Please contact the media team below to arrange interviews.

Media contact

For more information, please call The Children’s Society’s media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk.  For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  • ₁ ₂ The Children’s Society’s ‘Hidden from View’ report analyses data from a government study of 15,000 young people, aged 13 and 14, over a seven-year period, from 2004 – 2011. The ‘Longitudinal Study of Young People in England’ (LSYPE) was commissioned by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).  Of the 15,427 young people who completed the first wave, 689 (4.4%) identified themselves as young carers.
  • ₃ A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at school because of their caring role. Only half had received additional support from a member of school staff (Carers Trust, 2013).[1]
  • Carers Trust (2013), Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust).
  • The Census data is available on the Office of National Statistics website.
  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.
  • Carers Trust is the UK’s largest charity for, with and about carers. We work to improve   support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.
  • We do this with our Network Partners - a unique network of 124 independent carers’ centres, 73 Crossroads Care schemes and 107 young carers services. Together we work as one organisation united by a shared vision for carers - to make sure that information, advice and practical support are available to all carers across the UK.
  • There are seven million carers in the UK. Please visit our website www.carers.org for further information about your nearest service.
  • The Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) programme, led by The Children’s Society, brings partners together from YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness and The Fatherhood Institute. The four-year programme, running until 2016, is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. 
  • The Fatherhood Institute is the UK's fatherhood ‘think-and-do’ tank (charity reg. no. 1075104). Our vision is for a society that gives all children a strong and positive relationship with their father and any father-figures; supports both mothers and fathers as earners and carers; and prepares boys and girls for a future shared role in caring for children.
  • Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness. For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness. We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone. We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.
  • YMCA Fairthorne Manor is committed to ‘championing and adding value to young lives by providing experiences that challenge, enable and develop the individual'. In 2000 the Young carers Festival (YCF) was created by YMCA Fairthorne Group in partnership with The Children’s Society. The annual event brings together up to 1,500young carers from across the UK for a weekend of fun, relaxation and consultation.
  • DigitalMe runs a series of projects and programmes that put the power of social media in the hands of young people; the impact on the young people involved can be life-changing. Many participants, and the people who support them, have demonstrated enormous improvements in confidence, aspiration, and attitude to learning and life skills that will last them a lifetime. Messages from YCiF will reach 450,000 young people in over 9,000 schools over four years, through the www.makewav.es site.
  • The Children’s Society’s ‘Hidden from View’ report analyses data from a previously unexplored government study of 15,000 young people, aged 13 and 14, over a six-year period, from 2004 – 2010. The ‘Longitudinal Study of Young People in England’ (LSYPE) was commissioned by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).  Of the 15,412 young people who completed the first wave, 791 (5.1%) identified themselves as young carers.

Funded by:

  • Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn. Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888, Out of hours: 07867 500 572.
  • BIG’s £30m Youth In Focus programme is funding projects that support three targeted groups of young people: young carers; young people leaving care; and young people leaving youth offending institutions, helping them through key transitions in their lives. Full details of the work of the Big Lottery Fund are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
  • The Queen’s Trust was established in 1977 to support causes that help young people help others. Since then the Trust has awarded over £80m to programmes that give young people the chance to do this, in ways that benefit society in the long term. www.queenstrust.org.uk
  • Carers Trust is funded by The Queen’s Trust to achieve greater and more consistent identification and support for young carers in schools across England and improve access to qualified one to one support through www.youngcarers.net