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Carers report dropping out of education or getting lower grades due to inadequate support from education services

09 June 2016

The life chances of many of the 6.5 million people in the UK who care, unpaid, for a disabled, older or ill family member or friend, are being damaged by inadequate support from education services, according to new research launched today for Carers Week 2016.

Carers aged 18 and over in education or training2 reported significant barriers to being able to balance caring for a family member or friend with their studies:

  • Almost half (47%) said there were no policies in place to support carers
  • 4 in 10 (39%) reported a lack of flexibility in timetabling or with deadlines
  • 4 in 10 (39%) also reported that their teachers or lecturers have not told them about the support available to carers in education
  • Almost a third (29%) said they felt unable to talk about their caring role with other students
  • With a quarter (25%) saying their teachers or lecturers do not understand their caring role

This inadequate support from education services is having a significant impact on carers’ life chances, particularly when it comes to future employment prospects and finances. As a result of barriers to balancing education and care:

  • 2 in 5 (41%) have been unable to progress their education
  • 2 in 5 (41%) reported having to give up their studies
  • Over a third (36%) are worried about future employment prospects
  • Nearly a third (32%) reported not getting the grade or qualifications they expected
  • Two-thirds (67%) have reported stress, anxiety or depression

When carers feel supported by their local community3, they are twice as likely to always be able to balance education and care [4]. However, only a minority of carers say they actually feel valued and recognised by their community (26%), indicating that there is still a long way to go.  

Emily Holzhausen, who leads the Carers Week partnership, said:

“Too often, young adults and mature students are caring for relatives without adequate support from their school, college or university. When this is the case, it can have serious consequences for carers’ life chances, qualifications and career prospects. 

“When carers are supported by their local communities, they feel much more able to balance looking after their loved one with their education. Yet carers of all ages are telling us that their schools, colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to support them. So this Carers Week we are urging education providers and professionals to look at how they can improve the way they identify and provide support for carers.”

Simple actions that education services can take to improve the way they support carers, include:

  • Schools, colleges and universities should proactively identify carers and signpost them to support
  • Education providers should offer flexibility with timetabling and internal deadlines
  • Schools should include disability and caring as subjects within the curriculum
  • Colleges and universities should offer remote access, such as Skype, or distance learning where possible
  • Education providers should ensure that young carers benefit from the range of support available to them, including the Young Carers in School programme and the Pupil Premium

Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society.


Media contact

Case studies, good practice examples and spokespeople are available on request.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Gilbert, Senior Media and Case Study Officer at Carers UK and for Carers Week, on:

  • 020 7378 4937
  • 07534 630 667 (out of hours)


1 Building Carer Friendly Communities, Carers Week [2016]

The Carers Week research report, Building Carer Friendly Communities, is based on responses from 6,149 carers who completed Carers UK’s annual State of Caring survey online between March-April 2016.

The statistics in this press release are based on the responses of the 5,682 people who are currently caring for a family member or friend in the UK. They do not include responses from the 467 people who declared they are not currently caring for a loved one, as their caring role has come to an end.

Compared to the carer population as a whole, respondents to this survey were more likely to be female, disabled themselves and caring for a high number of hours every week.

Additional note: only responses from carers aged 18 and over are considered in this press release. Previous research carried out on the impact of balancing education and care for young carers under the age of 18 found: 

  • A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at school because of their caring role (Carers Trust, 2013)
  • 27% of young carers (aged 11-15) miss school or experience educational difficulties (40% where children care for a relative with drug or alcohol problems) (Dearden, C, Becker, S, 2004)


The statistics in this press release are based on the responses of the 654 people over the age of 18 who are currently caring for a family member or friend in the UK and have experience of balancing education and care. The majority of responses to the Carers Week education questions in Carers UK’s annual State of Caring survey are from adults furthering their education or training, not from young carers. 

Carers completing the State of Caring 2016 survey were given the following definition of community: “When we say ‘community’, we are firstly talking about the services and amenities in your local area, such as your high street, public transport, social clubs, or place of worship; this also includes your employer, your GP or local hospital. We are also talking about your ‘sense of community’ - how included you feel by local services and people, whether you believe your role as a carer is well understood by them, and whether you think your voice is heard on important issues.”

Building Carer Friendly Communities, Carers Week [2016]

About Carers Week 2016

Carers Week will take place from 6–12 June 2016, across the UK.

Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers across the UK.

Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society.

Carers Week is kindly supported by Sainsbury’s, Nutricia and the Lockwood Charitable Foundation. 

Carer Friendly Communities

Carer Friendly Communities are places where local people and services understand a carer’s daily reality and do what they can to make life a little bit easier for them. For example, a GP practice might offer appointment times that fit around someone’s caring responsibilities, or an employer might implement HR policies to support employees who juggle work with care.   

What is a carer?

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.

For some, taking on a caring role can be sudden: someone in your family has an accident or your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer or your partner’s health gradually worsens.

The amount and type of support that carers provide varies considerably. It can range from a few hours a week, such as picking up prescriptions and preparing meals, to providing care day and night.

Caring will touch each and every one of us in our lifetime, whether we become a carer or need care ourselves. Whilst caring can be a rewarding experience, it can also have a damaging impact on a person’s health, finances and relationships.

To find out how you can get support in your caring role, visit:

Facts about carers

  • By 2037, it is estimated that the number of carers in the UK will rise to 9 million
  • Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility – that equals over 2 million people every year
  • 58% of carers are women and 42% are men
  • Carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer
  • Over 3 million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether

Carers Week 2018

These organisations joined together to make Carers Week happen in 2017

  • logo01
  • Carers UK new logo
  • image description
  • independent age
  • macmillan
  • MSS-logo-orange partnersrow
  • MND logo
  • Which Elderly Care logo

Proudly supported by:

  • The Lockwood
    Charitable Foundation
  • Nutricia


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