Cedars Upper and Linslade School are among four Central Beds schools to become the first in the country to reach the gold standard for supporting young carers in the classroom.
They’ve been part of a pioneering new scheme which was launched on Friday by a consortium of charities, including the Children’s Society and the Carers’ Trust.
Central Beds Council has also worked with St Christopher’s Academy in Dunstable and Alameda School in Ampthill as part of a pilot for the Young Carers in Schools Programme.
All four schools have received the gold Young Carers Standard for Schools as part of the new scheme which gives schools and teachers the necessary skills and resources to stop young carers slipping under the radar. It also aims to provide understanding and support for young carers so that their caring role doesn’t affect their attendance or attainment levels.
Central Beds was chosen for the pilot because it has a track record in providing services for young carers and has already established a local young carers’ charter for schools.
In Central Beds, the council has identified nearly 550 young carers, with 95 per cent receiving some level of help ranging from group based support, one-to-one sessions, going on residential trips or receiving a carers’ grant.
Councillor Amanda Dodwell, deputy executive member for children’s services at Central Beds Council, said: “It is fantastic that schools in Central Bedfordshire are taking the lead in giving young carers the best possible chance to reach their potential. We know that young carers face significant challenges everyday, not least to their education.
“As a council we want all local young carers to have the same chances as any other children to participate, learn and achieve their ambitions and this is a great step towards achieving those aims.
“Everyone involved both at the council and the staff at each of the four schools has worked extremely hard to reach the gold standard and we are delighted that their efforts have been recognised by the Children’s Society.
“This is a great start but the real challenge begins now, as we look to encourage all schools in Central Bedfordshire to go for gold for young carers.”
Debi Tait, Young Carers lead at Linslade School, said: “It is important that we identify young carers in school , so that we can support them and give them the best possible chance in life. The standard help gives us the tools to enable this.”
Claire Powell, student welfare manager at Cedars Upper, said: “For several years now Cedars has been working closely with Young Carer Services in Bedfordshire to support these young people and to help them to achieve their full potential while still fulfilling their caring role.
“We are delighted to announce that in recognition of the support we offer, we have recently been awarded the Young Carers standard for schools at Gold level.”
The recognition of the four Central Bedfordshire schools comes in the wake of new research which reveals the high numbers of children providing unpaid care to relatives. The latest census data shows that 166,363 children in England are caring for a family member.