There are over 12,000* declared student carers studying in Scotland’s colleges and we know that student carers are four times more likely to withdraw from their course. This statistic doesn’t include those that didn’t declare their status or were not aware of their status. These numbers mean that most staff in colleges are likely to engage with student carers and will have some influence over how well they settle, succeed and move on.
For many years colleges in Scotland have supported carers and at the same time, at CDN, we’ve been developing resources to support colleges to engage with and enable student carers. Recently we’ve been working in partnership with Carers Trust Scotland to develop a resource that will be the first of its kind in the UK. The Supporting Student Carers at College module offers all college staff the flexibility to engage with the module at any time; for as long as they want and at their own pace. The module, which has 4 sections, provides an opportunity for staff to reflect on their learning and begin to develop practices that will inform their day to day interactions with carers.
What’s particularly striking and brings the module to life is the video testimony from student carers, providing staff with an understanding of the impact a caring role can have on the life and learning of a student carer. We’re also hoping that the module will encourage colleges to successfully apply for the Carers Trust Scotland, Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award. The fourth section of the module focuses on the Award and provides an opportunity for staff to think about how they can contribute to their college’s application for the Award.
Working on the module has also been a wonderful example of the benefits of collaborative working. In addition to working closely with the Carers Trust Scotland a number of colleges supported us by reviewing the module and sharing their practice. I should like to thank Ayrshire, Borders, City of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and South Lanarkshire Colleges in particular.
Finally working on this module has been a very satisfying experience. I’ll not forget hearing the student carers speak about their experiences for the first time. It shattered a number of my preconceptions and although I have heard them many times over I never cease to be affected by what I hear. I feel sure that will be the case for the many staff who engage with this module. So many thanks to those carers who selflessly and courageously shared their experiences and opened a window into their world for the benefit of others.
*The declared Student Carer figure for 2018/19 is 15,565