Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 21st May 2020.

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Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that children’s mental health and wellbeing will be supported when they return to school as the covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government remains committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people. Access to mental health support is more important than ever during COVID-19. NHS services remain open, leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. The NHS has set up 24/7 open access telephone lines for urgent mental health support for people of all ages.

The Department for Education has established a dedicated helpline and webpages covering advice for the education sector, as well as advice for parents and carers supporting children. The GOV.UK web pages include information about how education settings, and parents and carers, can support children and young people who may be struggling with mental health during this difficult time. This includes educational provision for vulnerable children and children of key workers; safeguarding, including keeping children safe from online harms; and advice on mental health and behaviour. Within the online education resources, there are resources to support mental wellbeing, physical activity, and special educational needs and disabilities.

This guidance is available at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mental-health-and-behaviour-in-schools--2; and

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education.

The return to school will in itself be part of supporting mental health and wellbeing of pupils as attendance enables social interaction with peers, carers and teachers which benefits wellbeing. Pupil wellbeing is highlighted in curriculum considerations for school leaders to consider in our guidance on actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020. It is also included as specific a theme in the planning framework that the department has issued, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/opening-schools-for-more-children-and-young-people-initial-planning-framework-for-schools-in-england. We will continue to work with school and health partners on how to make further resources and support available to schools as children and young people return.

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