All primary schools in Northern Ireland, including special schools and EOTAS with a primary school cohort, will be participating in the ‘Healthy Happy Minds’ pilot which will operate until the end of March 2022.
NEU, in partnership with the other teaching unions, assisted the Department in developing the project with £5m allocated directly to Principles to deliver the pilot. NEU warmly welcomes this pilot as a long overdue investment, especially as the affects of covid on the long term mental health and educational achievements of children is yet to be seen. This pilot comes at a key time.
Many schools are already delivering counselling and therapeutic services for children and they can utilise the funds towards existing provisions, as well as expansion as necessary. In addition to counselling, the pilot provides for many therapeutic interventions to be tested at primary school level including play, drama, music, art, and equine assisted therapy & learning.
Beyond March 2022, transitional arrangements have been assured so that no child engaging in any of the services is left unsupported.