Fairfield High School Wins Award for Young Carer Support

Fairfield High School (FHS) in Bristol has been given a Bronze award for its work to ensure students don’t miss out on an education because they are young carers.

The Young Carers in Schools programme helps primary and secondary schools improve outcomes for young carers and celebrates good practice through the Young Carers in Schools Award.

Keely Holloway, Learning Mentor at FHS comments:

“We are really pleased to be recognised by the Children’s Society for the work that we do to support young carers at FHS. We offer drop in and group sessions to listen to and support young people with caring responsibilities at home. As a group we aim to meet twice a term to give our students a chance to socialise and to support one other through any difficulties they may be experiencing. It is important that they feel that they are not alone and have someone to turn to if they need to.”

Young Carer and student Archie comments:

“Fairfield has given me the opportunity to learn about mindfulness which has been a great help in helping me relax and manage my time effectively. I attend a young carers meeting where we talk about stuff going on at home and support each other. There is also support with homework for all students in all departments. I’ve made new friends and learned new ways to tackle the stresses of caring. We play games and generally socialise and everyone is really nice. Fairfield and young carers at my school is really support and this award is greatly deserved.”

Young carers are responsible for emotional, practical or physical care for a parent, sibling or other family member who has a physical disability, mental health issue or substance misuse issue. The 2011 Census statistics revealed that there are just over 166,000 young carers in England, but research reveals that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The true figure could be closer to 700,000 young carers in England, equivalent to one in 12 school children many of whom are unrecognised and unsupported.

Research carried out by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society shows that, on average, young carers miss or cut short 48 school days a year and often have lower levels of self-confidence, mental wellbeing and significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, because of their caring role. Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework states that inspectors will look at how well schools support young carers.  While some schools are doing this really well, others struggle and this causes real problems for young carers.

To help schools support young carers, the programme offers a step-by-step guide for leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff, with practical tools designed to make it as easy as possible for schools. Staff can also receive training through webinars and events and the programme also features a newsletter each term highlighting relevant policy developments, spotlighting good practice and giving updates on the programme’s successes.

To achieve its Bronze Award, FHS has demonstrated that it supports young carers in many ways, including homework clubs and drop-in sessions with a member of staff who is responsible for this vulnerable group of pupils.

The programme is open to all schools in England and to sign up schools just need to visit www.youngcarersinschools.com

Giles Meyer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, today congratulated Award-winning schools, explains:

“The Young Carers in Schools programme is helping to transform schools and support staff across England. Schools play a vital role in a young carer’s life, as many care for relatives without their teachers even knowing what they do. On average young carers will miss a day of school each month as a result of their caring role, so the steps schools take to identify and support them can have a huge impact on their learning, wellbeing and life chances.”

Helen Leadbitter, national young carers lead at The Children’s Society, is delighted that the Young Carers in Schools Programme is bringing about national change.

“Hundreds of schools across England are participating in the Young Carers in Schools programme, using the tools and resources to improve their support systems, and ensuring that no child need miss out on educational opportunities because they are a carer. 74% of schools who have achieved a Young Carers in Schools Award have noticed improved attendance among their young carers, and 94% have noticed improvements in their wellbeing and confidence.”

If you would like to find out more about FHS please visit http://www.fairfield.bristol.sch.uk/.