Carers: Young People

Department for Education written question – answered at on 10 April 2024.

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Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Deputy Chairman of Committees

To ask His Majesty's Government, following statistics published on 21 March showing that the percentage of young carers who missed at least ten per cent of school is almost twice as high as that for pupils without caring responsibilities, what steps they are taking to improve the (1) identification of, and (2) support for, young carers in schools.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

Young carers make an enormous contribution by caring for their loved ones. The department wants to ensure young carers are supported in their education and can take advantage of opportunities beyond their caring responsibilities.

The department introduced The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations in 2015. This is an assessment of needs, conducted by the local authority which must consider whether it is appropriate or excessive for the child or young person to provide care for the person in question, in light of the young carer’s needs and wishes. It also helps to determine whether the care which the young carer provides, or intends to provide, impacts on the young carer’s well-being, education and development.

The department added young carers to the annual school census in 2023 for the first time and identified 38,983 young carers, raising their visibility in the school system and allowing schools to better identify and support their young carers. This is providing the department with strong evidence on both the numbers of young carers and their educational outcomes. This also provides an annual data collection to establish long-term trends.

As this is a new data collection, the department expects the quality of the data returns to improve over time as the collection becomes established. All schools (except nursery schools) must send this information as part of the spring school census. However, the recording and handling of the information is at the school’s discretion. 79% of schools recorded no young carers in 2023.

The department recognises that absence is often a symptom of other problems. The department has a comprehensive support-first strategy to improve attendance, which includes:

  • Stronger expectations of schools, trusts and local authorities to work together to tackle absence, which is set out in guidance that will become statutory in August 2024.
  • An attendance data tool allowing early identification and intervention of pupils at risk of persistent absence, which will become mandatory from September 2024.
  • The Attendance Action Alliance of system leaders who are working to remove barriers to attendance.
  • Appointing Rob Tarn as the new national attendance ambassador to work with school leaders to champion attendance as well as ten expert Attendance Advisers to support local authorities and trusts.
  • Expanding the department’s attendance mentor pilot from 5 to 15 areas from September, backed by an additional £15 million and reaching 10,000 children.
  • Doubling the number of lead attendance hubs, bringing the total to 32 which will see nearly 2,000 schools supported to tackle persistent absence.
  • A national communications campaign aimed to highlight the benefits of attendance and target preventable odd days of absence linked to mild illness, mild anxiety and term-time holidays.

The department is also building a system of family help by reforming children’s social care. The £45 million Families First for Children Pathfinder programme is testing how multi-disciplinary family help teams can improve the support that children, families and young carers receive.

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