Schools: Mental Health Services

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th February 2021.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding is available to support the mental health of pupils and staff at (a) school and (b) home for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Schools already support the mental wellbeing of their pupils as part of their curriculum provision and pastoral support. This is paid for from schools’ core funding, which is rising in each financial year by £2.6 billion in 2020/21, £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23, compared to 2019/20 funding levels. Pastoral support is a core job for schools; we do not place restrictions on spending because it is important that schools are free to decide how best to use the core funding they receive.

We have also put in place a £1 billion COVID “catch-up” package, with £650 million shared across early years, schools and 16-19 providers over the 2020/21 academic year to support education settings in putting 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.

The Wellbeing for Education Return, a Department for Education led initiative alongside the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Health Education England, Public Health England, and key voluntary sector organisations, backed by £8 million, has trained local experts to provide additional advice and resources for schools and colleges. This is to help support pupil, student, parent, carer, and staff wellbeing, resilience, and recovery, in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. Alongside this, the department has launched a £95,000 pilot led by the Education Support charity to provide online peer-support and telephone counselling from experts to around 250 school leaders. The pilot will end in March 2021. The outcome of the pilot will inform any future wellbeing and mental health interventions for staff.

The College Collaboration Fund is a £5.4 million grant funding programme open to all statutory further education colleges, to be delivered in the 2020/21 financial year. We particularly welcomed applications that address one of five specific quality improvement needs. Five of the funded projects are designed to provide remote/online mental health and wellbeing support to students and/or staff.

We worked closely with DHSC on their wellbeing and mental health support plan for COVID-19. The plan sets out the support available for individuals in the context of a second wave, and the winter months, including support for children and young people. As part of taking forward this work, the department will also be convening a mental health action group to look at the effects on children, young people and staff in the education system. We will confirm the next steps as soon as possible.

For children and young people who need specialist support, the government continues to invest in and prioritise mental health for all, with an additional investment of £2.3 billion a year by the 2023/24 financial year through the NHS Long Term Plan. The NHS will also receive approximately an additional £500 million this financial year, to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support that they need, and invest in the NHS workforce. The government has also provided £9 million in funding to mental health charities, including Mind, the Samaritans, Young Minds, and Bipolar UK, to help them adapt, expand, and reach those who are most vulnerable. We have also extended the Barnardo’s See Hear, Respond support for vulnerable children, including support for mental health.

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 for all schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support. The department will be convening an action group to look at the effects on children, young people and staff in the education system and we will confirm the next steps as soon as possible.

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