To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the (a) emotional, (b) organisational and (c) training needs of teachers are met when they support students who are (i) vulnerable and (ii) experiencing mental health issues as a result of terrorist incidents near their school or home.
The Department is committed to supporting schools to promote good mental wellbeing, provide a supportive environment for pupils experiencing problems and secure access to more specialist help for those who need it. This can be especially important for children who have experienced trauma. In November 2018, the Department updated its advice on Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools. It directs schools towards information on how trauma and adverse childhood experiences such as bereavement can affect individual children and how schools can adapt their approach to support these pupils within the context of a school environment which sets clear expectations of behaviour and clear routines. It also highlights the importance of continuous professional development to ensure staff have the knowledge and confidence to identify the early signs of mental health problems.
The Department is taking forward the proposals set out in our green paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’. There are three core commitments, which are intended to support local areas to support children and young people’s mental health as quickly as possible.
The commitments will incentivise all schools and colleges to identify and train a Senior Mental Health Lead; to fund new Mental Health Support Teams (which will be supervised by NHS children and young people’s mental health staff) and the piloting of a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services. As part of the Green Paper proposals, the Government also committed to provide Mental Health Awareness Training for a member of staff from all state funded secondary schools in England by March 2020. This programme is funded and managed by DHSC.
The Department provides support for schools to help them manage their security effectively so that they can meet their obligations and ensure they have in place sensible and proportionate security policies and plans, covering various scenarios – including terrorism. As part of our regular review, the Department has been working with educational institutions and local authorities to better understand what role it should play in supporting institutions to better prepare for and respond to a terrorist incident that affects the sector. As a result, the Department has developed incident response guidance. This guidance signposts resources and highlights areas for consideration in the immediate aftermath and the days and weeks following a terrorist incident that affects pupils, students or staff. A key part of the guidance is signposting resources for those experiencing mental health issues as a result of terrorist incidents near their school or home. The Department works closely with the cross-government Victims of Terrorism Unit to ensure the guidance we provide is accurate and includes the most relevant, up to date material. We expect to publish this in November.