National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report on an increase in pupils with mental health issues.

Commenting on new research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on an increase in pupils with mental health issues, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The findings of NFER’s report will chime with the experiences of education professionals across the country.  Thousands of children and young people have been impacted by the pandemic in different ways and many will need increased support to manage their emotional wellbeing now and over the long term.  It is also no surprise that schools in deprived areas are witnessing an increase in pupils with mental health issues and anxiety.  31% of children are living in poverty in the UK – 9 in every class of 30. We know what a devasting impact poverty can have on children’s mental wellbeing and learning and ability to access support.

"The NEU is campaigning for more investment in schools so that they can properly support children’s learning and wellbeing. We know that currently schools do not have access to the levels of support they need to help children recover – whether that is rooted in academic support or pastoral. The Government’s own recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, recommended £15bn for recovery but the Treasury came back with just £1.4 billion. Education recovery cannot be done on the cheap. £1.4 billion is nowhere near enough to support the learning and wellbeing needs of our children.

"Crucially, there must be a sea-change in the Department for Education’s approach to education recovery. In our own State of Education report this year, education professionals reported that the biggest barrier to supporting pupil mental health and wellbeing was the pressure to prioritise ‘catch up’ of lost learning. (1) In order to empower schools to prioritise children’s wellbeing, we must see a change in the DfE’s priorities about what recovery can and should look like.  We know what an important role schools play in helping children to regulate their emotions, build resilience and identify those who need more targeted or specialist support. Schools must have the time to do this alongside academic recovery and the curriculum must be flexible to adjust to the social and development needs of children and young people."


Editor’s Note

  1. The State of Education: Young People’s Mental Health, April 2021 


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