The government should do more to promote mental health and
pastoral care in schools, according to a new report.
It is particularly necessary in special schools for pupils with
emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) and in pupil referral
units for those unable to attend a mainstream school.
The Mental Health Foundation report, published this week,
recommends that more training of teachers should be dedicated to
the study of child development and mental health needs.
“The current initial training of teachers stresses specialist
subject-related competences but probably leaves insufficient time
for trainee teachers to study child development, counselling and
more general pastoral skills,” the report says.
“We see this as a situation needing review at central government
level if mental health in schools is to be promoted.”
In addition, qualified teachers should be able to develop their
mental health knowledge through courses that are government
“With more extensive resources, local child and adolescent mental
health service (CAMHS) professionals and educational psychologists
could be resourced to play an active role in offering appropriate
training,” the report says.
Between 20,000 and 25,000 pupils attend pupil referral units and
special schools for pupils with EBD in England.
The report acknowledges the need, at least for for the time being,
to openly recognise alternative settings alongside the current push
for school inclusion. But it concludes that government strategy
should focus on developing mainstream schools that better
understand children’s emotional needs in order to reduce the use of
these alternative settings in the future.
The report, written by Birmingham University’s emotional and
behavioural difficulties research team, also points out that
assessment of EBD varies between local authorities.
– The Mental Health Needs of Young People with Emotional and
Behavioural Difficulties from www.mentalhealth.org.uk
Report’s key recommendations
- Greater emphasis on pastoral care and promotion of mental
health in schools.
- Greater proportion of initial teacher training devoted to the
study of child development, mental health needs and pastoral
- Selected special schools and pupil referral units should
appoint one senior teacher as their mental health co-ordinator to
promote mental health and provide a link with local CAMHS.
- Closer inter-agency working between health, social and
education services in the delivery of CAMHS to children and young
people in special schools and referral units.