Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 8 October 2020.

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Photo of Colleen Fletcher Colleen Fletcher Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to assess the longer-term effect of the covid-19 lockdown on the mental health and wellbeing of (a) school and (b) university students.

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

We know that across society, the COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on wellbeing and mental health, but it has had a particular impact on children and young people. In September, Public Health England, who is closely monitoring the situation, published a report on the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on mental health and wellbeing. This report is available here:

The department is continuing to work with other government bodies, academics, the voluntary sector and private organisations to understand how children and young people’s wellbeing develops as they return to schools, colleges, universities, apprenticeships or to jobs with training. This will inform the department’s focus in providing further support. In particular, we will continue to publish our annual ‘State of the Nation’ report, summarising the evidence on children and young people’s wellbeing. The next report will include a consideration of the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak. Last year’s report is available here:

The evidence emerging over the spring and summer pointed to the importance of getting young people back into education for their longer-term mental health and wellbeing. To support the return to a full high-quality education programme we have put in place a range of measures, including our new £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return Programme. This will train local experts to provide additional advice and resources for schools and colleges to help support pupil and student wellbeing, resilience and recovery in light of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. It will give staff the confidence to support pupils and students, parents, carers and colleagues, and the knowledge of how and where to access appropriate specialist support where needed.

In higher education, the Office for Students has funded the Student Space platform which provides a range of dedicated resources to support students’ mental health. We have asked higher education providers to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of students during this period and have enabled them to use funding, worth up to £23 million per month from April to July this year and £256 million for 2020-21 academic year starting from August, to go towards student hardship funds and mental health support.

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