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Carers and learning

Many carers really enjoy learning and doing courses, and the freedom this gives them to spend time on themselves. There is support available - from finding the right course to funding and how to arrange alternative care.

Finding the right course

Some colleges run courses specifically for carers. These courses are often informal, friendly environments where you are encouraged to find a study programme to suit your learning styles, caring duties and personal aims.


Ask the social services department of your local council if there is any funding for learning through the Local Authority Carers Grant.

Some colleges give reductions to carers on benefits and some provide help with funding for transport costs and course fees.

Contact the college that has the course you are interested in for more information.

National Extension College

The National Extension College (NEC) provides home study courses. You may be able to get reduced fees on a course from the NEC if you are:

  • a carer
  • on income-related benefits
  • aged 16 or over
  • living in England
  • planning to do a level 2 course (GCSE or Basic Skills)

You may be eligible for the NECs Equal Access to Open Learning (EATOL) scheme. EATOL means you could pay £50 and any exam fees. You will also have a support from a personal mentor throughout your course.

There are a limited number of places are available.

Princess Royal Trust for Carers bursaries

You may be able to apply for a Princess Royal Trust for Carers bursary.

Funds are available for carers who are caring or who have stopped caring in the last six months.

They can be used for course fees, books and equipment. The cost of computers or respite care is not covered.

For more information, contact your local Princess Royal Trust for Carers centre.

City & Guilds 'Learning for Living' programme

Learning for Living is a combination of an on-line learning programme for carers and a qualification.

It has been developed by City & Guilds, which is the leading provider of vocational qualifications in the UK.

Alternative care

You may need to find someone to take over your caring duties while you study.

Your carer's assessment from social services should include if you want to study and whether you will need someone to help you with your caring role while you learn.

Your local council may have schemes available to help you take a temporary break from caring while you study.

If you have not had an assessment, contact the social services department of your local council to arrange one.


Crossroads is an organisation that provides respite care so that you can have time to yourself.

There are many schemes available in England and Wales. 

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