As the exam season gets into full swing, the Carers’ Resource has developed a list of “top tips” to help teachers identify those pupils who are forced to juggle schoolwork with the added daily demands of looking after a loved one.
The exhaustive programme of GCSE and A-Level examinations brings added pressures for the growing number of youngsters across the district who care for a parent, brother or sister with an illness of disability.
Drawing upon more than a decade of experience supporting young carers, the charity is now working closely with schools to give them an insight into the ten tell-tale signs that a student may be struggling.
And it has also put together a checklist of ways in which tutors can help – ranging from understanding a student’s lateness or need to leave early, through to providing a trusted staff member to whom the pupil can speak in confidence.
Hettie Flynn, Young Adult Carer Worker at the charity, said: We live in a growing, ageing population where the role of the carers has never been so important. Yet the unique needs of young carers living in our community and playing such a crucial role in family life often go overlooked.
The exam season highlights the relentless pressures many of them face, showing maturity beyond their years by actively caring for a family member one minute, while revising and sitting an exam the next.
We hope that the guidance we have developed, and the really positive way in which local schools have embraced it, will make a positive difference to these ‘hidden heroes’ in our community.
This is part of our wider programme of mentorship, designed to encourage young carers to stay on at school and achieve their full potential.
Among the warning signs it encourages teachers to look out for are pupils often being late or missing days for no apparent reason; being secretive about home; and having few or no friendship circles.
The charity has a specialist team to meet the needs and demands of young carers, offering support ranging from one-to-one mentoring at difficult times, through to arranging fun trips and special youth clubs to give them a much-needed break.
As well as researching pointers to help those working in schools identify and support young carers, it has also devised similar workplace guidance for employers.