Young carers 'given detention' for being late for school

There are an estimated 800,000 young people caring for a relative in the UK, but many more may be "under the radar".
There are an estimated 800,000 young people caring for a relative in the UK, but many more may be "under the radar".

Young carers who are late for school are getting detention from teachers unaware of their personal circumstances.

A council scrutiny meeting was told that some local schools are oblivious to the fact that some pupils were unable to be punctual because of their responsibilites at home.

Councillor Kathy Scott said on Wednesday she'd been made aware of the issue at a recent conference and said more help was needed to be given to young carers.

There are an estimated 800,000 children in the UK looking after a relative, but the meeting was told many more may be "under the radar".

Councillor Scott, deputy chair of Wakefield's children and young people scrutiny committee, said: "Because they’re caring for a relative, there's kids who are coming in late for school and they’re getting detention for it, because the teachers just aren't aware.

"We used to give cards out for young people for them to be able to show at school. I think we need to bring them back.

"Some of these young people can’t do their homework because of their responsibilities looking after either a parent, a sibling, or in some cases a grandparent. I think we need to look at that."

Councillors were told that the situation was made more difficult because some youngsters did not want to tell anyone about their circumstances.

Teacher Gerry O'Donnell, who sits on the committee said he'd be "concerned" if his school was unaware that a pupil was a young carer.

He said: "From the school’s point of view, they are judged on results, but I'd also be concerned from a caring point of view.

"We need to know who these students are so that we can help them.

"It's not just being late for school, it's their homework as well."

Labour's Kevin Swift said it was unfair for pupils with homecare responsibilities to be judged by the same criteria as their peers.

He said: "These children’s lives will be affected to the degree that it’s substantially getting in the way of their progress in school.

"Should that child really be judged to the same degree of demands (as other students) at that time of their lives? The effect on their lives must be very long-lasting."

A number of charities offer support for young carers, including The Carers Trust and The Children's Society.

For more information about the help available, visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/support-and-benefits-for-carers/help-for-young-carers/