Pupils: Mental Health

Department for Education written question – answered at on 29 October 2020.

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Photo of Christian Wakeford Christian Wakeford Conservative, Bury South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding from the catch-up premium introduced by the Government in response to the covid-19 outbreak is being spent on pastoral support by schools; what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of that funding to support all pupils’ mental health and wellbeing needs during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a resilience fund for the 2020-21 academic year to enable schools to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Access to mental health support has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. To ensure that staff were equipped to support wellbeing as children and young people returned to schools and colleges, we made it a central part of our guidance on the return to school. The Department supported this with a range of training and materials, such as webinars and accelerating training on how to teach about mental health as part of the new Relationships, Sex and Health curriculum, so that all pupils can benefit from this long-term requirement.

The Government has announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion, including a catch-up premium worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. School leaders have discretion over how to use this funding to best support the needs of their students, but we expect them to prioritise those who need the most catch up support. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) COVID-19 Support Guide is clear that interventions, including those focused on behaviour or pupils’ social and emotional needs, are likely to be important to support those who have fallen furthest behind. The EEF guidance is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/.

We will not be assessing how schools use their catch-up premium, but understanding the impact of COVID-19 disruption on attainment and progress is a key research priority for the Government. We have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to consider catch up needs and monitor progress over the course of the year.

The £1 billion catch-up package is on top of the £2.6 billion increase this year in school budgets that was announced last year, as part of a £14 billion three year funding settlement, recognising the additional work schools will need to do to help students to catch up. Additionally, the national funding formula (NFF) continues to target funding to areas which have the greatest numbers of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This year, the NFF will allocate £6.3 billion in funding for pupils with additional needs, or 18% of the formula’s total funding.

To provide further support during the autumn and spring terms the Department has worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Health Education England and Public Health England, as well as key voluntary sector organisations, to launch Wellbeing for Education Return. This project, backed by £8 million, will train local experts to provide additional training, advice and resources to schools and colleges, to help support pupil and student wellbeing, resilience, and recovery. It will give staff the confidence to support pupils and students, their parents, carers and their own colleagues, and know how and where to access appropriate specialist support where needed.

To increase support further in the long term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with DHSC and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches in order to provide quicker access to NHS specialist support.

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