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Young carers 'need school support'

Young carers need to be given more support in school and college to help them fulfil their potential, according to a teachers' union.

Around half (51%) of education staff say there is a young person in their school or college who is helping to care for a relative, according to a small-scale survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Young carers are children who help look after a relative who is sick, disabled, has mental health issues or is misusing drugs or alcohol.

Just 30% of those polled said that their workplace provides special support for young carers, the union claimed, with a further 17% saying there is no support on offer.

More than half (57%) said they did not know if their school or college provided specialist help.

Of those who said their school or college does offer support, almost half (45%) said that young carers have access to a counsellor, a third (35%) said there is one-to-one support by a mentor and a fifth (21%) said there is other help available.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: "Young carers should feel supported in schools and colleges so that they can fulfil their education potential and enjoy as much of their childhood as possible, but the reality is many are bullied, feel isolated or struggle with their learning because of their caring role."

:: The survey questioned 329 members working in schools and colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between February 19 and March 10

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