The government needs to put a stronger emphasis on the promotion
of mental health and pastoral care in schools, according to a new
report, writes Katie Leason.
Such a focus is particularly necessary in special schools for
pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD), and in
pupil referral units for pupils who are unable to attend a
The Mental Health Foundation report recommends a greater
proportion of initial teacher training 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,” it 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 government funding of courses.
“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,” it says.
Between 20,000 and 25,000 pupils attend pupil referral units and
special schools for pupils with EBD in England. While the MHF
report acknowledges the need to openly recognise such alternative
settings alongside the current push for school inclusion for the
time being, it concludes that government strategy should focus on
developing mainstream schools that better understand children’s
emotional needs to reduce the use of these alternative settings in
The report, written by Birmingham University’s emotional and
behavioural difficulties research team, also points out that
assessment of EBD varies between authorities.
* greater emphasis on pastoral care and promotion of mental
health in all 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 coordinator 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 pupil referral units
‘The Mental Health Needs of Young People with Emotional and
Behavioural Difficulties’ is available from www.mentalhealth.org.uk