Knowing how difficult it can be to juggle schoolwork with looking after an ill or disabled relative, Ricky Buckland wants to help teachers understand why young carers may struggle to keep up in class.
The 19-year-old from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk cares for his mum, who has diabetes and uses a wheelchair, and his sister, who has learning difficulties, autism and epilepsy.
He’s leading a team of young people who would like school staff to be trained to spot when a pupil might have caring responsibilities at home, so they can be offered the assistance they need.
‘I think more needs to be done in schools to help young carers by raising awareness of what they do,’ says Ricky.
‘I didn’t tell my school I was a young carer until I was in Year 10. I couldn’t cope with coursework alongside my caring role.’
With Fixers, Ricky and his team have created a film to show how easily a teacher can mistake a young carer for a bad student, if they aren’t sure what to look out for.
Set in the classroom, a pupil is seen being late, struggling to concentrate in a lesson, not handing in homework and skipping detentions, before finally revealing to his teacher the reason for this – he looks after his mum.
The film explains that the school are then able to make adjustments to help the student.
Watch the film ‘Misunderstood’ at the top of this page.
‘Hopefully the film will open teachers’ eyes - showing them what young carers have to deal with day-to-day,’ Ricky adds.
‘Perhaps it will change the way teachers understand young carers and hopefully it will help them to get the support they need.’
Ricky and his team plan to include their film in a resource pack to be sent to schools to be used on teacher training days.
They would also like the film to be shown to students, to help them identify when their peers are young carers.
‘I would love to try and get it into all the schools in Norfolk – then, all schools nationally,’ Ricky explains.
‘We’re planning a trial run in five schools in Norfolk during Carers Week.
‘I hope it will result in changes being made.’
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See how another group of Fixers use poetry to express how they feel
about being young carers. Watch their film.