Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at measures to improve mental health support in schools, the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils and LBGT books in schools.
Children and young people’s mental health green paper
Today, Monday 4 December, the DfE and DH will publish the children and young people’s mental health green paper. The paper proposes to increase mental health support for young people, with more available in schools. The measures outlined today are backed by over £300 million in funding.
Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening has outlined the vision for the green paper in an opinion piece for the Huffington Post. Among the measures in the paper are that every school and college will be able to train a designated senior lead for mental health and new Mental Health Support Teams will improve the link between education and health allowing early intervention.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
We want every young person to grow up feeling confident about themselves and their future - but too often mental health issues can have a lifelong impact and affect their performance at school, careers and ultimately their life opportunities.
There are great examples of schools and colleges across the country already playing a vital role in supporting students’ wellbeing and mental health. We want that kind of excellence to become the norm and these proposals will help deliver that by strengthening the links between schools and the experts who can give young people the support they need.
On Monday, 4 December, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released its ‘Drivers of Poverty’ report that looks at the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils. At the launch of the report, Robert Halfon MP will give a speech offering suggestions for how the Government should tackle the attainment gap. This was covered by the Sunday Times.
We have been clear that tackling social mobility is a key aim of the Department. For pupils, we have recently launched the first 6 of 12 opportunity area action plans, to help drive social mobility in ‘cold spots’ across the country, with the aim of helping to raise up people who are less likely to achieve highly in education. For parents of young children, we have doubled the amount of childcare available to parents of eligible 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week, to help them get into employment. And in universities, the finance system for higher education also allows disadvantaged pupils go to university by making sure there are no upfront financial barriers to going into higher education.
A Department of Education spokesperson:
We want to build a Britain where every young person has the opportunity to fulfil their potential regardless of their background.
Our data shows the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers has narrowed, that there are more people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering top universities than ever before and over 90 per cent of apprentices go into further work or training after their apprenticeship.
But there is more to do. That is why in schools, through the £2.5bn Pupil Premium funding, and our £72m Opportunity Areas programme, we are working to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and ensure every young person can fulfill their potential, regardless of background or circumstance.
The Sunday Times published an article on Sunday, 3 November, about LGBT friendly books being provided to schools by the charity ‘Educate and Celebrate’ to help prevent homophobia and transphobia. The article stated that this organisation is funded by the Department for Education. This is not accurate. The DfE has previously funded Educate and Celebrate to run a pilot aimed at tackling anti-LGBT bullying in schools, but it does not currently receive government funding and we have not been involved in any work they do to provide LGBT books in schools.