To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of his Department's guidance to schools on supporting students affected by self-harm; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on trends in the incidence of self-harm among students.
2 November 2020
The Department for Education keeps its guidance to schools under review, including the statutory Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance that all schools must have regard to. Amongst other things, it sets out the role all staff have to play to protect children. This includes being aware of the indicators, which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. These may include signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing. Staff should be aware of the associated risks and understand the measures in place to manage these. This also includes identifying where mental health concerns are also safeguarding concerns, and making appropriate referrals into early help support services and statutory support services as appropriate.
KCSIE was strengthened on 1 September 2020 and includes additional information for school staff to help them support children with their mental health.
The Department for Education works closely with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) on children’s mental health and safeguarding issues, and to understand the impact of COVID-19. Emerging evidence on self-harm is included in the children and young people section of the COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing surveillance report, which was published on 8 September 2020. The report is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/7-children-and-young-people.
DHSC expanded the scope of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2017 to include addressing self-harm as an issue in its own right. They fund the Multicentre Study of Self-harm, which is the most in-depth analysis and monitoring of self-harming trends in England.
Children’s wellbeing and mental health is a central part of the Department for Education’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and we have taken action to ensure schools and colleges are equipped to support children and young people.
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. We are also investing £8 million in the new Wellbeing for Education Return programme which is funding expert advisers who will be able to train and support schools and colleges in every area of England and can make links to available local authority provision.
To increase support further in the long term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with the DHSC and 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.
The NHS Long Term Plan also commits to developing integrated models of primary and community care to support people with complex needs, including self-harming.
From the 2019-20 financial year, we are investing £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan. This will see investment in all areas of the country by the 2023-24 financial year to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement support services. We have ensured that the suicide prevention funding for local areas includes addressing self-harm as a priority focus.