Oakley Primary receives inaugural Young Carer Schools Award

Janice Styles presenting the award to Young Carer Link Worker Dawn Hulatt and young carers from the school.

Oakley Primary Academy is celebrating becoming the first school to be awarded Carers in Bedfordshire’s Young Carer Schools Award.

The charity aims to enhance the education of young carers by devising ten standards for schools to meet and Oakley Primary Academy achieved all ten criteria.

Staff and pupils were presented with the award on Friday (21 January) and the principal, Sarah Litchfield, said she was extremely proud of the school for their achievement.

A young carer looks after someone in their family who is unable to cope without their support, such as a brother, sister, or a parent.

On average, there are two young carers in every classroom, each of whom is juggling responsibilities and pressure at a young age. Young carers often experience isolation, difficulties coping at home, problems at school or lack of social experiences.

Research has highlighted:

  • More than a quarter of young carers miss school or experience educational difficulties (40 per cent where children care for a relative with drug or alcohol problems).
  • A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at schools because of their caring role.
  • Young carers are more likely than the national average not to be in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 19.
  • Young carers have significantly lower attainment at GCSE level.

Janice Styles, Young Carers Coordinator at Carers in Bedfordshire, said: “We are so pleased to present our first Young Carer Schools Award to Oakley Primary Academy, to recognise the teachers as young carer-friendly.

“The teachers at Oakley have been wonderful in developing a culture of acceptance, understanding and support for young carers.”

School can be a place where young carers are under significant pressure or where people do not understand what a young carer’s life is like outside of school.

“We developed the Schools Award, as there are lots of ways schools can help young carers,” said Janice. “Examples include being allowed to use a phone during breaks and lunchtime, so the young carer can check on the person they’re looking after or running a lunchtime group or homework support group for young carers.”

Sarah Litchfield, principal of Oakley Primary Academy, said: “I am extremely proud of our school for achieving this award for the support we provide young carers.

“We give our young carers as much help and support as possible, to allow them to be able to carry out their caring role, alongside their schooling.”

As part of the support offered by the school, they have a young carer link worker able to put appropriate support in place to meet individuals’ needs. The school also works alongside families to help spot young carers and use posters and assemblies to help them self-identify with their role.

“Some children may not even realise they are a young carer when looking after a loved one becomes part of their family life,” said Sarah

“We also provide our young carers with homework extensions when needed, can adjust start times and allow them to check on the person they care for if necessary.

“This is all part of the school’s ethos that every child should have the opportunity to strive, achieve and flourish, to fulfil their potential and make a real difference.”

To find out more about the Young Carer Schools Award and the help and support Carers in Bedfordshire gives to young carers visit carersinbeds.org.uk.

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