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Mental Health Services: Curriculum

Question for Department for Education

UIN 187152, tabled on 26 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including mindfulness in the national curriculum for all school ages in England.

Answered on

28 April 2021

The department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy, and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society.

Health education is now compulsory for pupils in all state funded schools. Health education gives schools the opportunity to drive up the consistency and quality of pupils’ mental wellbeing and physical health knowledge by delivering clear content through evidence based teaching.

The department is committed to supporting all schools to deliver Relationships and Sexual Health Education, which includes a range of specific teaching requirements on mental health and wellbeing. A mental wellbeing teacher training module and implementation guidance have been published for the new curriculum to help subject leads and teachers understand what they should teach, as well as improving their confidence in delivering mental wellbeing as part of the new curriculum.

It is up to schools to decide how to teach this subject and what additional pastoral provision to put in place. To support schools to make evidence-based decisions about how to best support their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, the department is funding a large scale programme of randomised control trials of mental health interventions in schools. The aim of this programme is to provide robust evidence on what works to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and whether programmes can be delivered effectively in schools.

The programme is testing the effectiveness of five different approaches to supporting pupil mental health and wellbeing in primary and secondary schools across England. It includes a programme of brief mindfulness exercises to be run by teachers in the classroom, which provides teachers with a short training session and materials to run brief mindfulness exercises with their classes.

The department remains committed to long term improvements to support children and young people’s mental health, set out in the government’s response to its green paper and NHS Long Term Plan. This includes the roll out of mental health support teams and the provision of training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges.