Gold accolade for caring academy

Lorraine Harris, middle row far right
Lorraine Harris, middle row far right

A Dunstable school is one of the first four in the country to reach the gold standard for supporting young carers in the classroom.

The accolade to St Christopher’s Academy in Gorham Way is part of a pioneering new scheme launched on Friday by a consortium of charities, including the Children’s Society and the Carers’ Trust.

Central Beds Council has worked with St Christopher’s in a pilot for the Young Carers In Schools Programme. The Dunstable school and three others in Central Beds have received the gold Young Carers Standard For Schools as part of the new scheme, which gives schools and teachers the necessary skills and resources to stop young carers slipping under the radar.

It also provides understanding and support for young carers so that their caring role doesn’t affect their attendance or attainment levels.

Central Beds was chosen for the pilot because it has a track record in providing services for young carers and has already established a local young carers’ charter for schools. The council has identified nearly 550 young carers, with 95 per cent receiving help such as group-based support, one to one sessions, going on residential trips or receiving a carers’ grant.

Cllr Amanda Dodwell said: “It is fantastic that schools in Central Beds are taking the lead in giving young carers the best possible chance to reach their potential. We know that young carers face significant challenges every day, not least to their education. As a council we want all local young carers to have the same chances as any other children to participate, learn and achieve their ambitions and this is a great step towards achieving those aims.”

Lorraine Harris, young carers leader at St Christopher’s, said: “We aim to identify young carers and support them to achieve their full potential both emotionally and academically.”