Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at children’s mental health, as well as new funding to tackle child exploitation and the number of children in Pupil Referral Units.
Mental Health in Schools
Today, Wednesday 29 August, the Children’s Society published its annual Good Childhood Report. This report focuses on mental health and the proportion of young people who are self-harming.
Last month we published the Government’s response to our Green Paper on Children and Young People’s mental health. The key proposals put forward in the Green Paper, which the Government will now implement, include a mental health staff lead in every school and college, as well as mental health support teams working with these schools and colleges.
A Government spokesperson said:
Making sure children and young people have the right mental health care when they need it is vital. That’s why we are investing an extra £300 million to provide more help in schools, which will include trained staff to provide faster support to children.
We’ve extended our pilot scheme to deliver training in 20 more areas of the country this year to improve links between 1,200 schools and their mental health services, and as part of our long-term plan for the NHS we will announce more on how we will improve mental health later this year.
Child Exploitation Unit
Yesterday, Tuesday 28 August, we announced that we will be funding a new national unit to help local areas improve support for vulnerable children and young people at risk of exploitation. This announcement received coverage from the Telegraph and the Express.
Backed by £2 million in funding, the unit will assist local safeguarding agencies and tackle the sexual exploitation of children specifically. There will be dedicated expertise, advice and support for local areas to combat these issues.
The new unit will operate from 2019 up until 2022. The Department for Education will award a contract to run the new national response unit to support local practitioners to respond to these threats more effectively.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
Exploitation of children in any form is an abhorrent crime and it is deeply saddening that vulnerable children and young people are prey to criminals.
They are often at risk of multiple threats outside of their family lives, such as child sexual exploitation, gangs and county lines, and the new national unit will help local areas protect them from these threats and get the right support so they have the chance to succeed in life.
Pupil Referral Units
Today, Wednesday 29 August, the Times ran a piece about the increased number of children being registered in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).
Statutory guidance issued to schools is clear that they should consider underlying causes of poor behaviour before excluding children. While we are aware of an increase in exclusions, there are still fewer than the peak ten years ago.
We have launched an externally led review to look at how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionately affected.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Pupil Referral Units can provide care for children with a range of requirements – many of whom are unable to be taught in mainstream schools. This can include medical conditions or complex behavioural needs that require extra support as well as the small proportion of cases where children are excluded.
These units play an important role in making sure children get a good education and the right support to meet their needs. We have made clear to all schools that permanent exclusion must always be a last resort and they should always consider the underlying causes of poor behaviour before using it.