Young Carers in Schools programme
Our Young Carers in Schools programme, highlighted by Welsh Government as good practice, is currently funded by the Gwent Regional Partnership Board, Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and Monmouthshire Council.
The Young Carers in Schools Programme aims to provide schools with the tools and resources to support young carers and reduce negative impacts, giving young carers the same access to education and future life chances as their peers.
The Care Collective supports the delivery of the Young Carers in Schools Programme (YCiSP) in the following Local Authorities:
- Blaenau Gwent
- Vale of Glamorgan
We work with primary and secondary schools supporting the implementation of the Young Carers in Schools Programme. The Programme has five areas of focus and encourages schools to better understand, inform, identify, listen and support young carers in education. Schools are required to work with The Care Collective to gather evidence to support the work taking place which is collated into a portfolio and presented to the Peer Review Panel, a group of young carers who review the portfolios and make recommendations for improvement or award the school for achieving the standards.
The Young Carers in Schools Programme has 3 stages which supports schools to develop a whole school approach when supporting the needs of young carers.
- The Basics
- Beyond the Basics
- Best Practice
The team offer the following training:
- School staff (Identifying Us)
- Governors & Elected Members
- Administrative / First point of contact staff
- Refresher training (Supporting Us)
Our staff training ‘Identifying Us’ is offered every 6-8 weeks virtually which can be booked via Eventbrite. This training gives the opportunity for all staff within the school community to learn about young carers, the issues they face and how the school can best support them and their families.
Governor and Elected Member training is offered once a term and can also be booked via Eventbrite. This gives the opportunity to the Governing Body to understand their responsibilities to young carers in their school.
Administrative / First point of contact staff has been developed as many of these staff are not able to access the ‘Identifying Us’ training, a short training session is being developed to ensure staff are able to spot the signs of a young carer.
Refresher training (Supporting Us) has been developed for staff who have completed the ‘Identifying Us’ training this is available for both primary and secondary schools to access training appropriate to the school.
Here are some training dates:
Primary Staff training and key awareness days
Secondary Staff training and key awareness days 2022-23
Peer Review Panel
The Peer Review Panel is made up of young carers from across the regions where the Young Carers in Schools Programme is delivered.
The panel meet quarterly to:
- Review the schools’ documents and make sure they are in line with the requirements of the YCiSP
- Make clear recommendations for improvement if required
- Make a group decision whether the school passes the criteria
- provide the school with individual feedback on their portfolio
Once a school has passed a stage of the YCiSP, they are awarded a plaque to be displayed in their school and are sent digital logos to show their community they have been awarded.
Operational Lead Forum
Established in October 2021 in conjunction with Helen Tomlins from St Cyres School, the Operational Lead Forum gives the opportunity for operational leads from all schools engaging in the YCiSP to meet and share best practice for supporting young carers in education.
Previous meetings have included information sharing on the following topics:
- Transition within education settings
- Young carers ID card and local services information
- Referral processes for local Young Carers Services
- Suggestions of how to support young carers
- Ways to identify young carers
- Barriers to identifying young carers
- Young carers views and opinions
Operational Lead Testimonial – Whitmore High School
“The Young Carers in School programme has been very worthwhile and rewarding both for the staff and the young people. As a school we have learnt a great deal on how to identify young carers and how and where to signpost them. We have put strategies in place offering support and guidance.
Through the scheme we have also learnt the process of a referral for the young people, this enables us to explain it to the young people so they understand each step and not have to worry. We have also put posters around the school and have done presentations in tutorials which has resulted in a rise in our number of young carers. We are currently planning to run a peer mentor group as a regular session as it works really well when the young people come together.
This scheme has such a positive impact on the young people they don’t feel so isolated and have more support than they may previously have had. More young carers now have access to the young carers at the YMCA which has been so beneficial for them. This enables them to have help with homework, build relationships with others that are in the same situation and most of all, time for themselves.
For me professionally, it has been a great learning experience which was made with help, support and advice from Lisa Thomas. She kept me on track when I was unsure and was always there at the end of the phone or, when needed, to come and visit the school. The resources she supplied were informative and useful and made an impact.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lisa not just on my behalf, but also the school and most of all the young carers who have felt confident enough to come forward because of the scheme. Her passion for the young carers and the project is infectious and there have been times when that was needed and always very much appreciated.”
Peer Review Testimony – Young Adult Carer:
Taking part in the peer review panel has allowed me to develop accurate knowledge and insight into varied aspects of recognition for young carers within educational environments. Before becoming involved with this role, I had some understanding of the ways that young carers could be and should be represented within schools, however I’d never experienced this for myself, given that my school lacks in the publication and display of any information surrounding young carers and their caring roles. Nevertheless, through this programme, not only have I been able to obtain new information that has already helped me to recognise the different ways in which young carers are or are not being supported within schools and any other environments that might house carers and young carers (such as: posters explaining what a caring role entails; a clear timetable of a selected teacher or educational professional who specifically works with young carers; a suggestion box or similar systems that enable an individual to discreetly share their worries and whether they would like to talk to someone or not; a young carer’s policy, and so many more), this role has also provided me with a sense of responsibility and independence that is outside of my caring role, which for me personally is incredibly important.
My given role involves reviewing presentations presented by schools around Monmouthshire, and deciding whether or not they meet the guidelines for achieving ‘the basics’ in recognition for young carers – that is of fundamental measures schools should be taking to support and recognise young carers, of which there are five standards: to understand young carers; to inform others about young carers; to find ways to identify young carers ; to offer the opportunity for young carers to talk to somebody that they trust and feel comfortable with; and to offer support in multiple forms. It’s also provided me with a newfound confidence in the certainty of my knowledge around this topic in any given context, so much so that it has pushed me to consider becoming a young carer’s ambassador for my school, which would also include years 12 and 13.
It is so important for schools to be implementing these methods and strategies, because through personal testimonies, so many young carers feel as though they’re overlooked or misunderstood simply due to misinterpretation or mere lack of knowledge surrounding the aspects of a young carer’s role, and the consequences that stem from it, between student and teacher; as humans, we all deserve the recognition and respect that should be given and received naturally as an embodiment of appreciation and consideration. A label should not dismiss us from that. That’s why this programme is so meaningful, and why it definitely needs to continue, and reach out to more schools to help them develop the recognition and support that young carer’s need. Thank you for providing me with this unimaginable opportunity.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources for schools and professionals: