Evolve Managing Director John Bishop supports recommendations from a recent report that calls for a greater focus on children’s mental health in schools and a new approach to how children’s services are funded by the Departments for Health and Education.
The Education Policy Institute’s Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health report, Time to Deliver, calls for every school to have a mental health lead, evidence-based training and be inspected on pupil wellbeing.
However, John feels that broadening the scope of the current Ofsted framework to cover pupil wellbeing could do more harm than good. “Schools need to be able to redefine what the purpose of education should be in order to help children to develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally,” he says.
John warns that chasing academic results can come at a cost and it is hard for schools to get the balance right when they are under constant pressure from the Department for Education about SATs and GCSE results.
“The disproportionate focus on academic results that we are currently experiencing is part of the problem. Expecting schools to deliver more on pupil wellbeing without a change in school climate and the financial resources to do so will exacerbate the issue.”
Evidence from independent reports by Leeds Beckett University and LKMco into Evolve’s work have found that emotional wellbeing can be improved as a result of dedicated Health Mentors, who receive relevant training and support to help children develop the resilience and emotional skills to cope with potential causes of mental health issues.
As well as addressing this growing public health challenge, it is widely recognised that emotionally mature pupils perform better in their studies.
John will be developing this argument further at a forthcoming public health conference, where he will expand upon these research findings and demonstrate how co-funded health and educational solutions can cost effectively deliver shared outcomes with schools becoming more productive and functional national resources.
You can access the full report by clicking here