Skip to main content

Pupils: Counselling

Question for Department for Education

UIN 93684, tabled on 22 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will (a) provide access to counselling for all children in secondary schools and (b) extend access to counselling in further education colleges.

Answered on

30 September 2020

It is important for schools and colleges to have the freedom to decide what support to offer pupils based on their particular needs and drawing on an evidence base of effective practice. Our survey of mental health provision in schools and colleges in 2016 and 2017 found that 61% of schools and colleges (56% of primary schools, 84% of secondary schools and 93% of colleges) reported offering a counselling service for their pupils.

The department have published guidance on how to put in place effective school-based counselling, which schools can use to identify where further counselling support is appropriate for their pupils. The guidance is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools.

As children and young people return to school and college, staff need to be equipped to understand that some pupils may be experiencing feelings, such as anxiety, stress or low mood, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation, and how to respond.

From September, the government is investing £8 million to launch the new Wellbeing for Education Return training programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the COIVD-19 outbreak. The programme is providing £8 million to local authorities to enable schools and colleges in England to have access to training during the autumn and spring terms, and expert advisers who will be able to support schools and colleges and can make links to available local authority provision, including counselling.

We have worked hard to ensure that all pupils and learners were able to return to a full
high-quality education programme in September. Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, with £650 million shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, is supporting education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place.

In further education, the department has provided £5.4 million of competitive grant funding to certain colleges through the College Collaboration Fund. Five of the projects funded support student and staff mental health and wellbeing through online programmes and remote support.

Outside of school and college, access to mental health support has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. Leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government also announced that a further
£4.2 million will be awarded to mental health charities, including the Samaritans, Young Minds, and Bipolar UK.

All NHS mental health trusts have ensured that there are 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. Public Health England and Health Education England have also developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

In the long-term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS England. This includes introducing new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support.