Mental health

New ‘extracurricular handbook’ to help schools tackle mental health

But government rejects MPs' calls for all students to undergo a mental health assessment

But government rejects MPs' calls for all students to undergo a mental health assessment

The DfE revealed further details of its senior mental health lead training plans.

Ministers will publish a handbook for schools on how to use extracurricular activities to support pupil’s wellbeing, after rejecting calls for all students to undergo a mental health assessment.

Cross-party MPs on the education select committee had urged government to make sure all catch-up plans included “specific roles for activities that focus on mental health and wellbeing”.

In its response to the committee, the Department for Education said it will publish a handbook for schools on enrichment and extracurricular activities.

It will work with schools and multi-academy trusts “with broad enrichment and extracurricular offers” to create the document, which will emphasise how “provision can be used to support pupil’s mental wellbeing”.

The committee made the suggestion in their catch-up report published in March, which found pupils’ wellbeing have been “one of the greatest challenges” as schools returned during the pandemic.

It also called for all pupils to undergo a mental health and wellbeing assessment “to understand the scale of the problem”.

The government say they do not believe it is “practical, nor necessary” for every child to have a clinical assessment of their mental health and wellbeing.

DfE also said it is reviewing Teaching Online Safety in Schools guidance, first published in 2019, to ensure it remains up to date. The non-statutory guidance will be published in autumn.

But the committee says their warnings about persistent and severe absence have not been “full addressed”. They say the government’s response does not yet commit to a “targeted support plan”.

Robert Halfon, committee chair, said the DfE have made some “very welcome” interventions but “it must ensure that targeted support is provided to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children to ensure that every child has equitable access to climb the ladder of opportunity and develop to reach their full potential.”

mental health
Halfon

A Schools Week investigation this year found suicidal children were being turned away from overstretched mental health services with schools instead told to “keep them safe”.

The committee also welcomed the government cancelling National Tutoring Programme provider Randstad’s contract, as revealed by Schools Week.



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