The Coram Centre for Impact was funded by The Queen’s Trust to evaluate the Young Carers in Schools (YCiS) Programme. A free England-wide initiative delivered by Carers Trust in partnership with The Children’s Society, YCiS equips schools to support young carers and awards good practice.
The programme aims to improve the identification and support of young carers in schools across the country so that they get the help they need. It includes an online step-by-step guide for school leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff, with templates, tools and guidance and a Young Carers in Schools Award enabling schools to gain recognition for effective practice.
Coram conducted an online survey with 103 schools involved in the YCiS programme**, 14 interviews with schools, local stakeholder organisations and staff in trailblazer sites that had observed young carers over several years, plus two focus groups with young carers.
The evaluation found that:
- Introduction of the YCiS programme results in the identification of an increased number of young carers that is often a surprise to the school, with schools identifying over twice as many young carers than they otherwise would have
- Schools were very positive about the YCiS programme and its impact on staff awareness of young carers. 94% of schools said staff were more likely to know what to do if they identified a young carer and the same proportion had a better understanding of the support required for them
- Schools reported that since becoming involved in the YCiS programme, young carers were demonstrating increased wellbeing (85%), happiness (83%) and confidence (83%)
- 73% of schools reported young carers’ classroom engagement had improved, 72% thought their motivation to learn had improved and 63% reported improvements in young carers’ achievements
- Once identified as young carers, children benefitted from participation in group activities and access to supportive peer groups
- Young carers also benefitted from the flexibilities and understanding that they received from school staff, helping them to manage their school work, deal with their worries and participate more fully
- Two-thirds of schools said that the programme had enabled young carers to be better supported by community-based carers’ services, which gave young carers opportunities outside of school that they would otherwise have been denied
The evaluation also identifies areas for further support for young carers. There was a strong belief amongst schools that making all young carers eligible for the Pupil Premium would demonstrate the importance of this work and enable schools to direct support and resources to this vulnerable group.
In addition, schools felt a more explicit focus on young carers as part of the Ofsted inspection framework would make schools more motivated to deliver services to young carers.
Carers Trust and Coram are disseminating the findings of the report at a series of events with key decision makers, discussing how to best support young carers to thrive in their education. These are taking place in London (4 September), Cambridgeshire (25 September) and Sefton (26 September).
This project is being delivered through the Coram Centre for Impact, supporting charities working with children and young people, by combining evaluation with expertise in policy and commercial development to create sustainable solutions.
Dr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive of Coram said:
We are pleased to work in partnership with Carers Trust through the Coram Centre for Impact, to deliver this important piece of work, highlighting the issues that young carers face, and the positive changes schools can make to their lives through the YCiS programme.
Every young carer has a right to a fulfilling education and to be given the support and understanding they need to thrive. We look forward to building on these findings and discussions from the events to help raise further awareness of the programme, so that more schools are able to identify young carers and best respond to their needs.
Giles Meyer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust said:
Coram’s evaluation findings of our Young Carers in Schools programme highlight how identifying and supporting young carers in school can transform their education outcomes and personal wellbeing. We are proud of what the YCiS programme has achieved but will continue our drive to make this change sustainable in more schools across the country.