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Young People: Carers

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to ensure children who act as principal carers for family members have necessary support at school; what budget has been allocated for that purpose; what strategy is in place to monitor the educational outcomes of such children; and if he will make a statement. (138722)

Schools are already required to promote the education and welfare of all their pupils, and they should take pupils' particular circumstances into account. The Government are clear that if a school is concerned that one of their pupils may be a “child in need”, whether as a young carer or for any other reason, they should consider communicating with the child's family and with local children's services.

The Government are committed to ensuring that the revised guidance on attendance management, “Advice and guidance to Schools and Local Authorities on Managing Behaviour and Attendance: groups of pupils at particular risk”, is understood by schools and publicised by the Department. This guidance includes young carers as one of the groups that is at risk of becoming disengaged from education, and it was revised in October 2006 to reflect comments from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Young carers will be mentioned in our revised anti-bullying guidance, Safe to Learn (due to be issued later this term), as one of the categories of pupil particularly vulnerable to bullying. We also plan to ensure that schools are aware of their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA), and to draw their attention to our resource Implementing the DDA in Schools and Early Years Settings. Once this work is complete, we plan to draw the attention of teachers, schools, and local authorities to the specific application to young carers of these resources.

There is no specific budget allocated for the support of young carers at school: head teachers and governors have discretion to allocate their resources flexibly in response to local needs. As part of their general funding, local authorities have substantial resources to fulfil their responsibilities towards children and families. They also receive the carers special grant which supports local authorities in providing breaks and services for carers.

Schools are not required to collect data on children and young people with caring responsibilities. The Government accept that not all young carers wish to discuss what they regard as sensitive family issues with their schools.