Question

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Conservative, Cheadle

What steps his Department is taking to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people as they return to school as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee

What steps his Department is taking to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people as they return to school as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

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

Getting children and young people back into education, with settings devoting time to supporting wellbeing, will play a fundamental part in supporting children and young people’s mental health. The return to school will allow social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. The department has now published detailed plans?for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance for schools is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We have been working hard to ensure that all pupils and learners will return to a full high-quality education programme in September. Our £1 billion Covid catch-up package, with £650 million shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, will support education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place. More information is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/billion-pound-covid-catch-up-plan-to-tackle-impact-of-lost-teaching-time.

As pupils return to school, staff need to be equipped to understand that some children and young people may be experiencing feelings in such as anxiety, stress or low mood as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation. Our Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools Advice includes information about what to look for in terms of underlying mental health issues, linked to the graduated response and the support that might be suitable. More information is available here:

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

From September, the Government is investing £8 million to launch the new Wellbeing for Education Return training programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This is additional to?longer term work to improve support, including?the?new?mental health support teams that we are rolling out?across the country,?linked to schools and colleges. More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8m-programme-to-boost-pupil-and-teacher-wellbeing.

The department in collaboration with Public Health England and NHS England, delivered two webinars in July to provide further mental health support. The first webinar was for schools and colleges?to support?teachers in?promoting?and supporting?the?mental wellbeing?of children and young people?during the COVID-19 outbreak.?The second event was for?stakeholders?across the local system?to?support?strengthening of local partnerships?to?further?support?children and young people’s mental health as they return to school. We had around 10,000 sign up to the first webinar and around 1,300 to the second, and they are now available online for wider use.

We continue to working in partnership across education, health, the voluntary sector and local authorities to ensure that children and young people, parents and carers, and the professionals supporting them:

  • can access good-quality resources
  • are confident in supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing (as well as their own) and
  • ensure access to specialist services when they’re needed.

Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS mental services remain open. All NHS mental health trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. The Government has also provided over £9 million to mental health charities to ensure they can continue to support people experiencing mental health challenges throughout the outbreak.

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