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New report: If Only You Knew

If Only You Knew

New report: If Only You Knew, The experiences of siblings of disabled children in school

Sibs supports siblings who have a brother or sister with a disability, special educational need (SEND) or long-term health condition. The ‘If Only You Knew’ report is the result of a survey with over 200 children and young people about their experiences of being a sibling to a disabled child and resulting impact this had on their school life. The children and young people responding were aged 5-16. 

Key statistics are: 

66% of children had told a teacher about their sibling situation 75% had told a friend or friends about their disabled brother or sister 74% didn’t receive any help from school to support them as a sibling 

What the children said they found the most difficult was school understanding sibling issues, getting homework done, dealing with friendship issues and being tired.  

Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou, University College London Researcher and Sibs’ Trustee says: 

“Although schools are gradually recognising the significant impact of the unprecedented  pressures on young people’s lives, the needs and well-being of siblings of disabled  children remain unrecognised. Whilst some siblings, just like every other student, are  eligible to receive well-being support through general safeguarding and pupil support  policies, these are rarely targeted specifically for the siblings of disabled children.  Lockdowns have had a significant impact on the mental health of siblings with brothers  and sister who have disabilities, special educational needs or long-term health  conditions. Schools play a crucial role in providing opportunities for acceptance,  connections, fun, growth and support overall wellbeing. The Green Paper in 2014 set a momentum for schools to have a clear pathway in offering proactive and reactive  support to all pupils by 2025. Sibs’ report emphasises the importance of recognising  siblings needs and providing sensitive support tailored to their unique experiences.” 

Clare Kassa, Chief Executive at Sibs says: 

“School life is a hugely important part of childhood and for very many siblings, school  can be a source of respite from many of the challenges faced at home. But too many  siblings face these challenges alone, because their teachers and schools simply do not know about their families. Being a sibling can impact all aspects of a child’s life, especially their educational attainment. For many, being a sibling also brings caring responsibilities. Numerous children in our survey told us what they needed was  understanding and some basic disability awareness education for their peer group and  school communities. As one young sibling told us “Honestly, teachers understanding is  all I would need.” This shouldn’t be too much to ask. We welcome the recent Disability  Action Plan published by the Disability Unit which seeks to train professionals to identify  sibling young carers in education – we would like this to go a step further and identify  ALL siblings of disabled children and young people in school settings.” 

Full report available:

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