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Teachers: Training

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that training and support provided to senior leadership teams in schools situated close to where a terrorist attack took place is informed by the work of psychologists or trained professionals.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that training and support guidance provided to senior leadership teams in schools after a terrorist attack close to the school or homes of their students is empirically tested to ensure that it meets the needs of teachers and students; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the training provided to senior leadership teams in schools on how to support students after a terrorist attack close to their school or home is (a) appropriate to the (i) age and (ii) development and social understanding and (b) sensitive to the religious needs of those students.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

High-quality professional development is important for teachers and leaders at all stages of their careers to ensure they receive appropriate support and to enable them to constantly improve their practice. Decisions relating to teachers’ professional development rightly rest with schools, headteachers and teachers themselves as they are in the best position to judge their own requirements. We recommend that all Continuous Professional Development is underpinned by the 'Standard for teachers' professional development'.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for School Standards, gave on 4 November to questions 7039, 7040, 7041, 7042 and 7632. These answers emphasised the department’s commitment to supporting schools and colleges in promoting good mental wellbeing, providing a supportive environment for pupils experiencing problems and secure access to more specialist help for those who need it, which can be especially important for children who have experienced trauma.

These answers given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for School Standards, referred to the fact that, in November 2018, the department updated its advice on mental health and behaviour in schools. This advice directs schools towards information on how trauma and adverse childhood experiences, such as bereavement, can affect individual children. The advice also explains how schools can adapt their approach to support these pupils within the context of a school environment that sets clear expectations of behaviour and clear routines.

Schools also need to be able to have access to specialist mental health support where pupils need it. We are taking forward the proposals set out in our Green Paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’. There are 3 core commitments that 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 4-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 the Department of Health and Social Care. The Green Paper can be accessed via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transforming-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-provision-a-green-paper.

The department works closely with the cross-government Victims of Terrorism Unit to ensure the guidance they provide is accurate and includes the most relevant, up to date material, including material from the Department for Health in relation to mental health support. The Victims of Terrorism guidance also includes resources for teachers to use in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist incident.

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