A Strategy for Children’s Mental Health – Helen Clark writes

On 21st July 2020, Dr Lisa Cameron MP tabled the following Question:

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 21 July 2020 to Question 72965, on Schools: Mental Health, whether schools will be able to use the £650 million catch-up premium for pastoral support for young people.’ (77679)

Dr Lisa Cameron, MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

On 7th September, 2020, Dr Cameron received an answer from the Minister for Children, Vicky Ford:

‘The £650 million ‘catch-up’ premium is to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. Our expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education.

Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education, with responsibility for children and families

To support settings to make best use of this funding, the Education Endowment foundation have published a COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools with evidence-based approaches to funding in the most effective way, which is available here:

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1

The guide is clear that evidence-based interventions, including those focused on tackling pupils’ behaviour or social and emotional needs in order to support them with re-engaging with school, will support pupils to catch up as they return to school.

The Education Endowment Foundation have also published a further School Planning Guide for the new academic year, which is available here:

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.’

Helen Clark, Lead Author for the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood responded to the Question and Answer, saying:

The £650 million catch-up premium is clearly intended primarily to provide educational support; possibly involving buying in additional tutoring services to supply the knowledge shortfall that some students may have experienced during the prolonged absence from school.

This is an essential need and will cost money. The catch-up premium must be spent on what it was intended to facilitate – helping pupils to catch up and remedy the attainment gap occasioned by the Covid-19 driven school absence.

But £650 million of catch-up funding is not a magic money tree and will only stretch so far.

Quite apart from the fact that The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign contends that evidence gained from actual practice with children (practice-based evidence) is the best model for dealing with social and emotional problems; as opposed to methods derived from theoretical modelling (evidence-based practice) it is utterly unrealistic to expect the catch up fund to cover the entire gamut of children’s mental health needs as well as their educational requirements.

A distinct mental health strategy for children and young people is now imperative and with future Covid forecasts worsening by the day, there is no time to lose.

The Government must announce a strategy without delay.’

Helen Clark said that an announcement on mental health service provision for children and young people on their return to school should include:

  • The immediate release of emergency investment streams into existing mental health services such as CAMHS and also a distinct ‘School Mental Health Needs Returner’ fund
  • A long-term strategy specifically focused upon the mental health outcomes of the Covid-19 crisis on children and young people
  • Specific funding proposals to help children and young people living in conditions of socioeconomic hardship, BAME, diverse and migrant communities
  • A clear commitment to put the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of the Government’s ongoing Covid-19 Recovery Plan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *