To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 9 November 2020 to Question 107614, if he will allocate additional funding that is ring-fenced for primary and secondary schools to spend on counselling and therapeutic services for pupils.
We know that the COVID-19 outbreak has had impact on children and young people’s wellbeing and mental health. That is why we are working on a range of support packages to ensure support is provided for all those who need it, without diverting funding from elsewhere. It is important for schools and colleges to have the freedom to decide what support to offer pupils based on their particular needs and drawing on an evidence base of effective practice.
Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, with £650 million shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, is supporting education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place. The Education Endowment Foundation have published a COVID-19 support guide to support schools to direct this funding, which includes further information about interventions to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/.
Ofsted’s October 2020 COVID-19 report, based on its interim visits to schools, confirmed that a number of school leaders are considering using this funding to pay for interventions such as additional pastoral staff and counselling for pupils. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-series-briefing-on-schools-october-2020.
Many schools already provide access to some counselling support. The government has produced guidance on how to put in place effective school-based counselling which schools can use where they decide further counselling support is appropriate for their pupils. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/497825/Counselling_in_schools.pdf.
The guidance sets out that counselling works best within a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing, which considers issues such as promoting wellbeing, raising awareness of, and reducing stigma around, mental health issues and providing an effective pastoral system.
Additionally, we have invested £8 million in the Wellbeing for Education Return project, which will ensure schools are better informed and supported. This project has trained local experts to provide schools and colleges with advice and resources on supporting children and young people’s mental health. This support will remain in place until March 2021, to help schools and colleges over the winter months.