SCHOOLS have been honoured for giving youngsters who care for family members extra support.
Oxfordshire County Council has recognised 18 schools under the Schools Standards Awards (SSA).
Its young carers manager Deborah Parkhurst set up the scheme – with 37 county schools – to support 1,500 young carers.
It aims support the welfare of young carers and help them get the best possible GCSE results.
They include homework and after school clubs and face-to-face counselling sessions to share experiences and boost their confidence.
More than 100 teachers and young carers attended an awards ceremony at Magdalen College, Oxford, last month.
Among those who have been supported by the school is Cheney School pupil Jason Hessleton, 14.
He helps look after his mum, Denise, 43, and step-dad, Craig Wright, 43, who are both deaf, and has been attending the young carers club since it started at the school.
The Headington youngster, an only child, said: “It has given me somewhere to go and helped me improve my work.
“This year I won most improved student in the school, I was shocked when I found out.
“I have had to help my mum all my life. I know sign language and if people don’t know it then I have to help when we go out and when people come to the door.”
Mrs Parkhouse said: “We need to change the culture in the schools, we need it to be easier for young carers to come forward, we need it to be a positive experience.
“It is not any more complicated than asking students what they did when they got home from school.
“For young carers that is something like ‘I sat with my mum because she was upset’, or ‘I had to do the cooking’, or ‘ I put my brothers and sisters to bed.’ “But it is having the confidence to ask the questions in the first place.”
Among the schools recognised was Banbury Academy, which supports more than 50 young carers.
Vice principal Simon Davies said: “We asked ourselves how many young carers do we have and we didn’t really know. I think over the past year something that has changed is that they are not embarrassed by it anymore, it is just something that they are or aren’t.
“And they are quite happy talking about it and a lot of them are quite proud to be carers.
“A lot of them are really proud of it.”
Those receiving recognition
Bartholomew School – silver
The Henry Box School – silver
The Warriner School – bronze
St Nicholas Primary School – silver
Wolvercote Primary School – bronze
Windmill Primary School – bronze
Cheney School – silver
Fir Tree Junior School – silver
Abbey Wood Academy – bronze
Faringdon Junior School – bronze
Caldecott Primary School – bronze
Wheatley Park School – bronze
Faringdon Community College – bronze
Chiltern Edge School – silver
Didcot Girls’ School – silver
Fitzharrys School – silver
Lord William’s School – silver
Banbury Academy – silver
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