Education’s role in children and young people’s mental health examined
March 23, 2017
This week a joint inquiry by the Health and Education committees got underway examining the role of education in the mental health of children and young people. The committees heard from psychologists, campaigners and headteachers including Siobhan Collingwood, headteacher of Morecambe Bay Community Primary School who emphasised that school budget cuts are having a “significant impact” on mental health provision with therapeutic services being the first to go. The issue was also raised that it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to teach a broad and balanced curriculum when the “pressures are on to reach a high level of performance in things we haven’t previously taught”.
Kate Fallon, general secretary at the Association of Educational Psychologists, focused on the difficulties caused by the “growing autonomy of schools” and “decreasing responsibilities … of local authorities”, citing competition between schools and the freedom they have to “opt into something” as making it harder to realise joint strategic approaches across communities.
Meanwhile, a separate survey of 1,003 parents in Britain found that almost three-quarters of parents would “choose a school where children are happy even if previous exam results have not been good”. 92% of respondents agreed that schools have a “duty to support the wellbeing and mental health of students, while more than half want more information about what their child’s school is doing to promote it”.
Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said that “schools are critical in helping prevent mental health problems escalating … Many schools are already doing excellent work, but too often they are hampered by competing pressures and a lack of resources. If the government is serious about tackling the crisis, it must rebalance the whole education system.”