Education: Mental Health

Department for Education written question – answered at on 28 February 2024.

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Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of making mental health first aid a compulsory component of teacher training.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

The department is committed to ensuring that all pupils can reach their potential and receive excellent support from their teachers. The Teachers’ Standards set clear expectations that teachers must understand the needs of all pupils, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). To be awarded qualified teacher status trainees must demonstrate that they have met all the Teachers’ Standards at the appropriate level. This includes the requirement that all teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils. Early career teachers (ECTs) are also assessed against the Teachers’ Standards to pass their induction.

Both the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) and Early Career Framework (ECF) set out the core body of knowledge, skills and behaviours that define great teaching for new teachers and must be incorporated into ITT courses and ECF-based programmes, which includes content on SEND and adaptive teaching. Courses and programmes should be appropriate for the context in which the teacher is or will be working; for some, this will already include content on mental health. It is incumbent on providers to determine the full curriculum, including how to ensure coverage of everything necessary within limited training time.

Following a review of the CCF and ECF in 2023, the updated and combined ITT and ECF (ITTECF) was published on 30 January 2024, for delivery from September 2025. The review paid particular attention to the needs of new teachers when supporting pupils with SEND. There is now significantly more content related to adaptive teaching and supporting pupils with SEND. The department has included new content on teachers knowing who to contact to provide support with any pupil mental health concerns.

The department has also committed to offer all state schools and colleges in England a grant to train a senior mental health lead (SMHL) by 2025, enabling them to introduce effective whole school or college approaches to mental health and wellbeing. This training covers the range of mental health issues likely to be encountered in schools and colleges and the risk factors associated with specific groups. Over 15,100 settings that have claimed a grant so far, including more than 7 in 10 state-funded secondary schools. More information on the grant can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/promoting-children-and-young-peoples-emotional-health-and-wellbeing.

To expand access to early mental health support, the department is continuing to roll out Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) to schools and colleges. These teams deliver evidence-based interventions for mild-to-moderate mental health issues and support SMHLs with their whole school approach. As of April 2023, MHSTs covered 35% of pupils in schools and learners in further education in England, with coverage planned to extend to at least 50% by the end of March 2025.

Mental wellbeing is also part of the statutory Health Education curriculum. For example, pupils are taught to recognise and talk about their emotions, and how to seek support. The department has published a support package on GOV.UK, including content specifically on teaching about mental health and wellbeing.

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