AN East Durham school has been awarded a charter mark for supporting young carers.
Seaham School of Technology has been given the Young Carers Charter, which is recognised by Ofsted.
The school was chosen for the charter by Family Action, The Bridge Durham Young Carers, which works with schools across County Durham encouraging them to raise awareness and improve support for young carers.
Glenys Newby, education worker for the group, said: “As many as 700,000 children nationally have caring roles supporting parents or siblings with disabilities, mental health issues or alcohol or substance misuse. Many provide more than 20 hours of care per week with some caring for more than 50 hours a week.
“In most cases school staff are unaware that children have caring responsibilities at home. So being a young carer can be a hidden cause of poor attendance, underachievement and bullying.”
She said about the Young Carers Charter: “It’s not just a piece of paper - the charter is a means by which school leaders can learn to support young carers in their school through a series of simple, inexpensive actions.”
Glenys said things such as assigning a member of staff to be a young carers lead, publicising information on caring to other pupils, parents and teachers, allowing pupils to phone home at lunch time to relieve worry and stress, or having a better understanding of why a young carer might be a few minutes late arriving on a morning, are all measures which can help the child.
She said: “In short, the Young Carers Charter provides a mechanism by which we raise awareness of young carers issues to pupils, teachers and parents and which helps create a safe and secure environment for young carers and their families, so everyone gets the support they require and deserve.”
Among the initiatives Seaham School are doing to support young carers, include setting up a young carers group to provide the students with the chance to talk about issues and give them time to relax, breakfast club to ensure the young carers have a breakfast before lessons, putting up a young carers notice board, holding awareness-raising assemblies and putting out questionnaires designed to identify young carers so they get the support they need.