Current guidance on young carers for schools (Scotland)

Current guidance on young carers for schools (Scotland)

Here are the main documents of policy, legislation and guidance which direct professionals working in a Scottish context to how they should support young carers in education settings.

Key Points: 

  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 and 2009 introduces a framework for providing for children and young people who require additional support with their learning for any reason.
  • ‘Getting It Right for Young Carers’ The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 -2015 sets out action points to be implemented through local authority education services to support young carers in schools.
  • Education Maintenance Allowance is payable to eligible 16-19 year olds in Scotland.
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Date Revised: 
25/11/14
"It is vital that young carers can continue to participate in the education system in a way that allows them to fulfil their potential……… A key part of that is to ensure not only that young carers are identified in our education system, but that young people in our schools understand the role that young carers have and that teachers are educated about the difficulties that some young carers face." Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, January 2012 


Here are the main documents of policy, legislation and guidance which direct professionals working in a Scottish context to how they should support young carers in education settings. 

2010 review recommendations

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 and 2009 introduces a framework for providing for children and young people who require additional support with their learning for any reason. The Act places certain duties on local authorities to identify and monitor the additional needs and the support provided, and respond to parents’ request for an assessment. 

In 2010, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (now part of Education Scotland) carried out a review of the impact of the Act on certain groups, including young carers. Recommendations were made as follows:

  • Education authorities, partner agencies and establishments should improve approaches to identifying and addressing the needs of children and young people who are looked after, who are young carers and those with mental health issues.
  • Education authorities should achieve better consistency in the provision of coordinated support plans for children and young people who meet the relevant criteria for having one, with particular consideration being given to children and young people who are looked after, are young carers, or have mental health disorders.
  • Education authorities and NHS Boards should review availability and access to specialist support services for children and young people with mental health issues.
  • Scottish Government and education authorities should ensure that relevant data and information are collected and managed effectively to help children receive, and benefit from, appropriate support.
  • Education authorities, partner agencies and establishments should ensure that staff have appropriate training to help them meet the needs of children and young people with additional support needs.
  • Education authorities and establishments should ensure that parents of children who are looked after, are young carers, or who have mental health issues are aware of their entitlements under the Act. These children and young people themselves should also be made aware of their entitlements under the Act.

Further information can be obtained from the Education Scotland website.

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Getting it right for young carers

‘Getting It Right for Young Carers’ The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 -2015 (Scottish Government, 2010) sets out action points to be implemented through local authority education services to support young carers in schools. These will assist with identifying and supporting young carers in school settings.

Here is a list of the action points which are most pertinent to schools:

  • By 2012, if they have not already done so, local authority Education Services will wish to revisit their policies, procedures and approaches for identifying young carers in schools, to reflect the impact of current policy and legislation, including the Curriculum for Excellence and the Supporting Children’s Code of Practice.
  • By 2012, if they have not already done so, local authority Education Services will wish to explore opportunities for developing partnership working with their local schools, parents and the third sector, including young carers services in order to improve identification of and support for young carers.
  • The Scottish Government will work with the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance to produce a practice guide on young carers for teachers and schools.
  • The Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) will promote the use of the Toolkit to identify and support young cares in primary schools in Scotland which has been developed to assist PDF iconprimary school teachers to identify and support young carers
  • The Scottish Government and partners will respond to the recommendations coming from HMIe (now part of Education Scotland)’s review of the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning Act and its impact on young carers. 

The strategy sets out how its production dovetails with the four capacities which form the foundation of the Curriculum for Excellence and Scottish Government’s child-centric approach, Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC).

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Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

EMA is payable to eligible 16-19 year olds in Scotland.  

Carers of this age group who may miss school or college due to their caring responsibilities should be encouraged to let the education institution know about their family situation.  Within the new EMA guidance, young carers are recognised as being vulnerable and entitled to additional flexibility around entitlement.

Read guidance on Education Maintenance Allowance on the EMA Scotland website, specifically point 2.1.2 in the Education maintenance Allowance - Scottish Business Model (Version 14) which states that "If written confirmation has been received from the LA detailing that a young person has caring responsibilities (young carer) then flexibility should be built into the learning agreement."

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