This week Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford wrote to school staff to thank them for all they’ve done over the last school year and through the pandemic as a whole. She also set out some of the resources available to school staff to help them as they prepare for the new school year in September.
I wanted to say once again a huge thank you for everything you have been doing to support your pupils and students during these difficult times.
We all know that the pandemic has had a particular impact on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The support you continue to provide to your pupils and students has been fantastic, and you should be incredibly proud of the significant and valuable role you are playing in helping to support pupils’ and students’ recovery.
With the return to face-to-face education, we know that children and young people may be experiencing a variety of feelings in response to the COVID-19 outbreak such as anxiety, stress or low mood. For most, these are normal responses to an abnormal situation. We have put together some useful links and sources of support teachers and teaching staff can access to assist children and young people so that they can get the advice and help they need.
On 10th May, as part of Mental Health Awareness week, we announced more than £17 million to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges, building on our commitment to make mental health and wellbeing a central part of the education recovery work. I have set out more detail below to make sure you have clarity about the funding, training and resources available to you.
Support available locally
Wellbeing for Education Recovery
We have provided £7 million additional funding for Local Authorities to deliver the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme. We have provided advice to local authorities about how they can use this funding to support education settings, including: providing information on the various sources of external support available locally, alongside NHS support; providing training on subjects you may need additional support with; and supporting with local assessments to help you identify pupils’ and students current and anticipated needs.
Some local areas are also participating in the Link Programme, which is designed to help improve understanding and communication locally, and support areas to adapt services and processes to better support children, young people and education settings. Further information is available here: https://www.annafreud.org/linkprogramme.
I encourage you to contact your Local Authority to find out what support they can offer you.
Developing a whole school approach to mental health
As you will know, taking a coordinated and evidence-informed approach to mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges leads to improved pupil and student emotional health and wellbeing, which can also help readiness to learn. We have published information here outlining help you can get to develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing in your setting.
Senior mental health lead training
We announced £9.5m in funding so that, between September 2021 and March 2022, around a third of schools and colleges in England will be able to access a grant to pay for senior mental health lead training – helping develop the knowledge and skills in settings to implement an effective whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Further information and links to resources are available here.
Schools ready to develop or introduce their whole school approach, with capacity to undertake training before March 2022, will be encouraged to apply from September 2021.
Mental Health Support Teams
A new resource known as mental health support teams (MHSTs) is being introduced to support schools and colleges, with around 400 teams expected to be established supporting around 35% of pupils in England (almost three million) by 2023
MHSTs are intended to provide early intervention on mild to moderate issues, as well as helping staff within a school or college setting to provide a whole setting approach to mental health and wellbeing. Further information on mental health support teams can be found here.
Thank you again for all your hard work during this difficult time, and I hope this letter has been helpful in setting out the resources available to assist you in supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families