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Written Question
Special Educational Needs
15 Sep 2021

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he will make additional support available for SEND pupils from September 2021 to assist with (a) closing the attainment gap in accordance with their projected attainment and (b) wellbeing and mental health support.

Answered by Vicky Ford

I refer the hon. Member for York Central to the answer I gave on 14 September 2021 to Question 43696.

Mental health and wellbeing are a priority for the government. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have prioritised keeping schools open above all else, as long as it was safe to do so, because it is vital for children and young people’s wellbeing, as well as their education.

In May, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we announced more than £17 million of mental health funding to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges. This includes £7 million additional funding for local authorities to deliver the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme. This builds on our £8 million funding for the Wellbeing for Education Return programme in the 2020-21 financial year, which provided free expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people experiencing additional pressures from the last year – including trauma, anxiety, or grief. Wellbeing for Education Return has been used by more than 90% of councils since its launch last summer.

The £17 million funding will also support up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England, who will be offered funding worth £9.5 million to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the next academic year, and is part of the Government’s commitment to offering this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025. More information on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/senior-mental-health-lead-training#which-staff-can-get-the-training.

Additionally, our Mental Health in Education Action Group, has worked to identify and put in place further specific help to education settings to provide support for children and young people’s mental wellbeing at this critical time, and in the longer term.

This support for practice in schools is in addition to the £79 million boost to children and young people’s mental health support we announced in March, which will include increasing the number of Mental Health Support Teams. The support teams, which provide early intervention on mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in schools and colleges, will grow from the 59 set up by last March to around 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children. This increase means that millions of children and young people will have access to significantly expanded mental health services.

The department has brought together all of its sources of advice for schools and colleges into a single site, which includes signposting to external sources of mental health and wellbeing support for teachers, school staff and school leaders. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support-in-schools-and-colleges#mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources.


Written Question
Assessments
15 Sep 2021

Questioner: Helen Hayes (LAB - Dulwich and West Norwood)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support his Department is providing to help schools and students prepare for exams in summer 2022 before Ofqual publishes final details of adjustments to those exams.

Answered by Nick Gibb

It is vital that pupils, including those due to take exams, attend school to minimise the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their education, wellbeing, and wider development. Due to this, the Department has implemented a comprehensive attendance strategy to ensure absence as a result of COVID-19 is minimised. We continue to closely monitor absence levels and trends to ensure a focus on attendance remains throughout this academic year. The Department continues to work closely with local authorities and schools to help them re-engage pupils, including providing best practice advice. The Government’s Supporting Families programme also continues to work with families where attendance issues are a significant concern.

The Department has also committed to an ambitious education recovery plan, including an investment of over £3 billion. This will provide direct and flexible support to schools through the introduction of the catch-up premium in academic year 2020/21 and the recovery premium in academic year 2021/22, as well as a significant expansion of the tutoring programme, to support children and young people to make up for education lost during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition, from Autumn 2021, schools and colleges will be able to access a grant to pay for senior mental health lead training, helping develop the knowledge and skills to implement an effective whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. An additional £7 million has been made available for local authorities to deliver the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme.


Written Question
Mental Health Services: Children and Young People
15 Sep 2021

Questioner: Justin Madders (LAB - Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the current waiting time is for CAMHS from referral to appointment in (a) Elllesmere Port and Neston constituency and (b) England.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

The information requested is not available as a national access and waiting times standard for child and adolescent mental health services has not yet been defined.


Written Question
Mental Health Services: Children and Young People
15 Sep 2021

Questioner: Justin Madders (LAB - Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many children and adolescents are waiting for CAMHS treatment in Ellesmere Port and Neston constituency.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

The information requested is not available as a national access and waiting times standard for child and adolescent mental health services has not yet been defined.


Written Question
Education: Finance
14 Sep 2021

Questioner: Kim Leadbeater (LAB - Batley and Spen)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the adequacy of funding for education recovery from the covid-19 outbreak; and what (a) support and (b) resources he is providing to teachers and schools to assist with (i) recovery from the covid-19 outbreak and (ii) catch-up learning.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The Department has announced significant investment of over £3 billion in education recovery funding to support children and young people to make up for education lost during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes over £950 million worth of funding direct to schools and a significant expansion of our tutoring programmes.

The Department has supported the Oak National Academy, helping schools to provide high quality online lessons, including making resources available online throughout the summer holidays.

Alongside this, the Department provided additional targeted funding to support schools through the exceptional costs fund, the COVID-19 workforce fund, and additional support to provide free school meals to eligible pupils.

Through an investment of more than £400 million, the Department has provided internet access and over 1.35 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. We will continue to provide internet access for disadvantaged pupils whose face-to-face education is disrupted during the Autumn term.

In May 2021, the Department announced a further £17 million towards improving mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges. This is in addition to the £79 million announced in March 2021.

The Department continues to discuss education recovery across Government and in the context of the Spending Review.


Written Question
Autism and Hyperactivity
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Zarah Sultana (LAB - Coventry South)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the length of time for people to receive ADHD and ASD assessments.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

In 2021-2022 we are investing £2.5 million as part of the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce autism diagnosis waiting times for children and young people. We are investing £10.5 million through the COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Plan to address waiting times for children and young people, proactively identify those at risk of crisis and reduce waits for adults. In the NHS Long Term Plan we committed to working with local authority children’s social care, education services and expert charities to develop packages to support neurodivergent children, including children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their families, throughout the diagnostic process. To enable the system to address this, five-year funding allocations are conditional on improving services like these in line with Long Term Plan targets.


Written Question
Mental Health Services: Finance
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Justin Madders (LAB - Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding has been allocated to reducing waiting times for mental health treatments.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

While we have not specifically made an allocation for reducing waiting times for mental health treatment, the NHS Long Term Plan invests at least an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24. This will ensure an additional 345,000 children and young people and 380,000 more adults have timely access to quality mental health support.

We are also providing around an additional £500 million in 2021/22 to support people’s mental health in 2021/22 and to address waiting times for mental health services.


Written Question
Eating Disorders: Mental Health Services
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Helen Hayes (LAB - Dulwich and West Norwood)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 30 March 2021 to Question 173104, what monitoring his Department currently undertakes of waiting times and demand for NHS eating disorder treatments.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

For children and young people, the standard is 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases. This standard contains information on the number of children and young people who have accessed or are waiting for treatment following a routine or urgent referral for a suspected eating disorder, which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/cyped-waiting-times/

For adults, a four-week waiting time standard for adult community mental health services, including eating disorder services, has been piloted and evaluated. NHS England and NHS Improvement launched a public consultation on the standards, which concluded on 1 September 2021. NHS England and NHS Improvement will analyse the consultation responses to inform a recommendation on whether and how to implement any new standards in due course.


Written Question
Mental Health: Young People
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Bim Afolami (CON - Hitchin and Harpenden)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to improve young people’s mental health as part of the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

We are providing an additional £79 million in 2021/22 for children and young people’s mental health services to allow around 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services, 2,000 more to access eating disorder services, and a faster increase in the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges.

We are also providing £13 million to ensure young people aged 18 to 25 years old are supported with tailored mental health support, helping bridge the gap between children’s and adult services.

These investments are in addition to the commitments of the NHS Long Term Plan, through which mental health services will receive an extra £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24, allowing 345,000 more children and young people access to National Health Service-funded mental health services.


Written Question
Schools: Mental Health Services
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Louise Haigh (LAB - Sheffield, Heeley)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the findings of Mind’s report entitled, Not making the grade: why our approach to mental health at secondary school is failing young people, published on 30 June 2021.

Answered by Vicky Ford

The government is grateful to Mind and Young Minds for their report about mental health in secondary schools. We recognise the difficulties that a significant number of young people are facing with their mental health and wellbeing, and that this can be linked to experiences of racism, trauma and abuse. We also know that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a particular impact on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Mental health and wellbeing are a priority for the government, and we are working closely with schools and colleges to support pupils to return in a way that supports their mental wellbeing.

We recently announced more than £17 million to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges. This includes funding to train a senior mental health lead in 7,800 schools and colleges in England this academic year. Senior leads will learn about the range of mental health issues likely to be encountered in schools and colleges, the risk factors associated with specific groups, including pupils who have suffered from trauma and vulnerable groups and how to put in place whole school approaches that embed that knowledge into wider staff training and school processes, including behaviour and attendance policies.

This is in addition to the £79 million we announced in March to boost children and young people’s mental health support. This funding will increase Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) to cover around 35% of pupils in England by 2023. MHSTs work with groups of schools and colleges to identify specialist needs of pupils in their areas.

We understand that mental health difficulties can lead to challenging behaviour, and we know some students require additional support to behave well. Our Behaviour Hubs programme equips schools and multi-academy trusts to create and sustain positive behaviour cultures. The programme includes specialist training modules on managing challenging behaviour and inclusive practices and policies.

However, we will always support headteachers to use exclusion when required as part of creating calm and disciplined classrooms – and our guidance sets out how headteachers can make these difficult decisions in a way which is lawful and fair. At times, it may also be necessary to use reasonable force to restrain a pupil – for example, to break up a fight to protect teachers and other pupils. We trust schools to use their judgement in recording incidents involving force and, when serious incidents occur, we would expect schools to record the incident and let the parents know.

Furthermore, recently the department carried out a call for evidence as part of a fundamental review of both the behaviour and discipline and suspensions and permanent exclusions guidance. For this we gathered views on behaviour management which included interventions that support pupils with particular vulnerabilities. This will help us understand how schools have appropriate provision to support any mental health needs, special educational needs or disability that a pupil may have.

Racism has no place in schools, or in society. We expect headteachers to put effective behaviour policies in place to tackle this, including actions to prevent bullying, and have put in place support. Our Respectful School Communities tool can support schools to develop an approach which promotes respect and discipline, in order to combat bullying, harassment and abuse of any kind. We are also currently running a procurement exercise to fund anti-bullying organisations in 2021-22, to make sure that schools have the right support in place to prevent bullying of all pupils, including those with protected characteristics. This builds upon the changes we have made to make relationships education compulsory in all schools, which covers teaching pupils the knowledge they need to foster respect for other people and for difference. Where bullying and racist incidents do occur, schools should develop their own approaches for monitoring these and exercise their own judgement as to what will work best for their circumstances.


Written Question
Eating Disorders: Mental Health Services
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Helen Hayes (LAB - Dulwich and West Norwood)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve waiting times for children and young people to be referred for urgent and routine eating disorder treatment.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

The number of children and young people entering urgent treatment for an eating disorder increased by 73% in financial year 2020/21 compared to 2019/20 according to NHS England data. We have created the first waiting time standard for children and young people eating disorder services so to ensure that 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases.  While performance has been affected due to increased demand, in quarter 1 of 2021/22, 61% of young people who started treatment for an urgent case were seen within one week, and 72.7% of young people who started treatment for routine care were seen within four weeks.

We are investing an additional £79 million in 2021/22 to significantly expand children’s mental health services, including allowing 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also announced a further £40 million in 2021/22 to address the pandemic’s impact on children and young people’s mental health, including eating disorders.

The Government is funding an eating disorder study via the National Institute for Health Research jointly led with Kings College London and eating disorder charity, Beat. The study aims to better understand what may lead to an eating disorder as well as how best we provide more effective treatment. UK Research and Innovation has recently announced an extra £3.8 million on a research project on eating disorders to inform prevention and early intervention in young people.


Written Question
Mental Health Services: Young People
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Louise Haigh (LAB - Sheffield, Heeley)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing the recommendation by Mind, Young Minds, Youth Access, the Children’s Society and the Children and the Young People’s Mental Health Coalition for the Government to fund a network of mental health support hubs for young people across England.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

While no formal assessment has been made, the Government is exploring the model of early access of support for children and young people’s mental health with stakeholders.


Written Question
Eating Disorders: Mental Health Services
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Helen Hayes (LAB - Dulwich and West Norwood)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the change in the number of children and young people referred for eating disorder treatments during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he is taking to tackle the causes of such referrals.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

The number of children and young people entering urgent treatment for an eating disorder increased by 73% in financial year 2020/21 compared to 2019/20 according to NHS England data. We have created the first waiting time standard for children and young people eating disorder services so to ensure that 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases.  While performance has been affected due to increased demand, in quarter 1 of 2021/22, 61% of young people who started treatment for an urgent case were seen within one week, and 72.7% of young people who started treatment for routine care were seen within four weeks.

We are investing an additional £79 million in 2021/22 to significantly expand children’s mental health services, including allowing 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also announced a further £40 million in 2021/22 to address the pandemic’s impact on children and young people’s mental health, including eating disorders.

The Government is funding an eating disorder study via the National Institute for Health Research jointly led with Kings College London and eating disorder charity, Beat. The study aims to better understand what may lead to an eating disorder as well as how best we provide more effective treatment. UK Research and Innovation has recently announced an extra £3.8 million on a research project on eating disorders to inform prevention and early intervention in young people.


Written Question
Students: Mental Health Services
9 Sep 2021

Questioner: Navendu Mishra (LAB - Stockport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the findings of the National Student Survey that 42 per cent of students felt enough was being done to help them, what steps he is taking to tackle mental health challenges in colleges and universities.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The past year and a half has been an incredibly difficult time for our students and I recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous bodies, independent from government and have a responsibility to support students with mental health conditions. They are not only experts in their student population but also best placed to identify the needs of their particular student body.

While it is for HE providers to determine what welfare and counselling services they need to provide to their students to offer that support, the government is proactive in promoting good practice in this area. I have engaged with universities on this issue and have written to Vice Chancellors on numerous occasions, outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. I have also convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors to specifically address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform providing a range of valuable resources dedicated to students. I am delighted to confirm that the OfS will continue to provide funding to Student Space into the start of the next academic year, which will mean that students can continue to receive this expert advice and support.

Furthermore, we asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through reforms to the Strategic Priorities Grant funding, to help address the challenges to student mental health posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard to reach students.

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, and I have convened a Mental Health in Education Action Group to drive action to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and staff in nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. The group has focused on supporting mental wellbeing as children and young people return to education settings and to provide enhanced support for transitions between education settings in this new academic year. Our Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George, who has been appointed to advise the government and raise the profile of mental health education and wellbeing in schools, colleges, and universities, is a member of the group.

As part of our Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, the government has provided an additional £13 million to ensure young adults aged 18 to 25, including university students, are supported with tailored mental health services, helping bridge the gap between children’s and adult services. This will support a cohort which has historically faced a ‘cliff-edge’ in support and is being especially impacted by COVID-19 with a rising prevalence of mental health problems and changes to the economy and labour market.

My department is continuing to work with our counterparts in the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as with stakeholders in the HE sector through the Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce Subgroup, and the Mental Health in Education Action Group to ensure that the wellbeing of our students remains a priority.


Written Question
Students: Mental Health Services
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Sarah Owen (LAB - Luton North)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of ending blended learning on the mental health of college-aged students who are accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health. As set out in the '16 to 19 Study Programmes: Guide for Providers', on-site education should be the norm for the majority of the 16-19 curriculum. However, remote or online learning can add value for some students and courses where it is underpinned by a clear educational rationale and forms part of a clear strategy.

In making decisions concerning the use of remote and online delivery, providers should give particular consideration on how best to support vulnerable and disadvantaged students and students with special educational needs and disabilities and mitigate effects on their mental health and wellbeing. Providers should also be considerate of the wider socio-economic and well-being implications of remote and online learning.

In all circumstances, quality should be the key criteria for determining use of remote and online learning.

The department realises that many students and staff members will be feeling uncertain and anxious at this time. Further education providers should identify young people who may need additional support and engage with them and their representatives to understand their needs, and ensure they have appropriate mental health and wellbeing support in place. To provide support, the government remains committed to its joint green paper delivery with the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England, which is establishing Mental Health Support Teams, covering an estimated £3 million children and young people by 2023, and providing senior mental health led training to all state schools and colleges by 2025. As part of this commitment, from this autumn, we will offer 7,800 schools and colleges in England grants to train a senior mental health lead in their setting, which is being backed by £9.5 million.