Solihull Sixth Form College has been given the Quality Standard Carer Support award for its work in providing care and support for Young Adult Carers.
The journey to achieving this award started during the 2019/2020 academic year by Additional Learning support Manager Caroline Sweeney and Student Development Officer Julie Maitland. They considered how the College could best identify and support your young adult carers and build on the things we were already doing. We already had in place regular contact with Solihull Young Carers, who held drop-in sessions in College and took referrals. Academic Coaches, who are employed to support students with their studies, were identifying students in need of this support and some students were self-referring. This support continued during lockdown.
As part of the Quality Standard award, the College had to identify areas of improvement. Current students helped with this process, by delivering a presentation to management which led to a new policy, governor support and the appointment of Academic Coach Amy Flower as the College’s Young Adult Carer Support Officer. We now have more students identified and they are supported individually by Amy. We hope to continue the good practice from last year by bringing these students together for group support when it is safe to do so.
The College is increasing awareness through our training programme for Academic Coaches and support staff. Teaching staff are also contacted about students identified in a caring role. A number of young carers support organisations in areas both within Solihull and outside of the area have been identified and these organisations are also able to offer services to our students.
After compiling all the evidence, staff central to this work met with the Carers Federation for a 3-hour interview and presentation. One current and one past student joined Assistant Principal Sonia Wood and Additional Learning Support Manager Caroline Sweeney and Sally Barton Bodley from Solihull Young Carers joined the meeting to give their testimonies.
“I’m delighted to see that the hard work of our support staff has been rewarded. The work they do to support students who are juggling their studies with significant responsibilities at home cannot be under-estimated. It can be the difference between staying in education or not and that in turn significantly impacts young adult carers live chances.”Assistant Principal Sonia Wood