Ahead of the January 2024 school census return, Carers Trust, MYTIME Young Carers & The Children’s Society have written a letter to headteachers asking for their help to ensure young carers are identified, supported and recorded in the school census return.
Since 2023, young carers have been included within the January census return. From January 2024, independent schools will also be asked to record the number of young carers in their school in their school-level annual school census return. It uses the section 17ZA of the Children Act 1989 definition: ‘a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (which isn’t to a contract or voluntary work)’.
The first year of School Census data relating to young carers was released in June 2023. The data showed significant underreporting of the number of young carers in schools. When schools were asked to record whether a pupil was a young carer, nationally 38,983 pupils were recorded as young carers, representing 0.5% of the pupil population. In this first year, 79% of schools recorded zero young carers in their census return – we know this is simply not the case.
This highlights the significant improvement needed in identifying young carers in schools and recording on pupil information systems. This would help schools to then monitor young carers’ critical education metrics, such as attendance and attainment, in order to check in and offer support when young carers may need it. This is likely to improve young carers’ educational experience and outcomes.