Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Suffolk)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:10 pm on 5 November 2019.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 7:10, 5 November 2019

First, may I, too, publicly congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your election as the Speaker of the House? It was a great pleasure to watch that.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that this issue is critical, not only for him and his constituents but for me and mine, and the Minister has responsibility for it. The time allocated for direct contact time with educational psychologists is just 15 hours a year for pupils at one primary in Northern Ireland. For children dealing with anxiety and other social issues, that is simply not enough. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the provision of support and early intervention in respect of social anxiety issues can positively impact lifelong mental health, and reduce the need for further intervention in high schools at a greater cost? In other words: do it now, do it early.