Young Carers Action Day 2024

Today marks Young Carers Action Day, an opportunity to take action, support and raise awareness of young carers. Find out everything you need to know to support young carers in school.
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This year’s theme is fair futures for young carers: thinking about how we can remove the barriers our young carers face so they too can have the chances and opportunities available to their peers.  

Who are young carers?

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023 defines a Young carer as: ‘a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person.’ 

This could be any family member or friend who has a physical or mental health condition, or misuses drugs or alcohol. They may also look after siblings or elderly relatives too and it might only be a temporary situation or could be long term. 

How many young carers are there?

As many as one in five pupils across schools in the UK could be a young carer. (Young Carers in School, 2024).

The 2021 ONS census reported that there are around 120,000 young carers aged 5-18 in England, while the first school census to include Young Carers in 2023 suggested that there were 39,000 ‘known’ young carers in the country.  This is believed to be significant underreporting of the number of young carers in schools, 78% of schools recorded zero young carers in their census return, which Young Carers in Schools believes cannot be the case. 

Schools need to be creative in thinking of ways to find out how many young carers they might have, as they are too often undetected and therefore offered no support.  The caring role they carry out means they have unique experiences and demands that impact on their capacity to enjoy and achieve at school. It may also be the case that staff are not equipped to identify pupils who have caring responsibilities, and so it is paramount that training is provided to whole staff teams to enable them to do this effectively. There is no better time than Young Carers Action Day to get staff, pupils and parents talking about Young Carers and to raise the profile of how important it is to recognise these incredible young people. 

The census gives schools 3 options: ‘Not declared’, ‘Identified as a young carer by parent or guardian’ and ‘Identified as a young carer by school’.   There does not need to be support already in place or a Young Carers Needs Assessment for pupils to be declared on the census and ‘Schools do not need to obtain parental or pupil consent to provide this information for the purposes of the census but should respect the wishes and feelings of both children and their parents’ (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023). 

What impact can this have on education?

  • Research by MYTIME Young carers (2023) based on a local pilot found that young carers in the schools miss an average of 27 school days per academic year. 
  • 42% of young carers or young adult carers ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feel stressed (Carers Trust, 2022). 
  • 27% of young carers say that they struggle to balance caring with school or college work (Carers Trust, 2022). 
  • 52% said they do ‘not often’ or ‘never’ get help from school or college to balance their work (Carers Trust, 2022). 
  • 34% of young carers say their school or college ‘always’ or ‘usually’ understands about them being a young carer – this means around two-thirds of young carers are spending their days in environments where they don’t feel fully understood (Carers Trust, 2022). 
  • 40% said they ‘never’ or do ‘not often’ have someone at school to talk to about being a young carer or young adult carer (Carers Trust, 2022). 

Keeping Children Safe in Education highlights that school staff, particularly DSL’s ‘are alert to the specific needs of children in need, those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those with relevant health conditions and young carers’ KCSIE (2023). As well as academic attainment, staff must also be aware of the impact on mental health and wellbeing for young carers. Due to the responsibilities that they have within the home, young carers can often feel socially isolated from their peers and the pressure that is placed upon them can feel overwhelming. Not to mention that in many cases, young carers are supporting family members who have life-long or life-limiting illnesses. 

What support is available?

Run jointly by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society, the Young Carers in Schools (YCiS) programme works with schools across England to share good practice, provide relevant tools and training, and celebrate the great outcomes many schools achieve for young carers.  There are a range of resources available on their website.

Many young carer services across the country offer awareness-raising sessions for staff and/or pupils. They will also be able to tell you about local support including Young Carers Needs Assessments. To find your local young carer service, please visit: Find Your Local Young Carer Service | The Children’s Society (  

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