Yesterday saw the parliamentary launch of a new campaign on wellbeing in schools. “Wise Up” led by YoungMinds with support from NCB, calls on the Government to rebalance the education system so that wellbeing and good mental health are key priorities in every school, alongside academic attainment. The General Election on 8 June is a huge opportunity - and we’re calling on all parties to include a commitment in their manifesto.
We are calling on the next government to send a clear message that schools have a crucial role to play in keeping children happy and healthy, as well as supporting them to fulfil their potential and prepare for adulthood.
Currently, an estimated three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem and one in four children experiences emotional distress. Exam pressure, 24 hour social media, cyber-bullying, “sexting”, and an increasingly competitive jobs market mean many young people feel worrried or stressed at school.
For too long, successive governments have focused on GCSE and A Level results as the key indicator of school success. Overwhelmed by the pressure of league tables and fear of falling behind, schools have been left with little resource to invest in the wellbeing of their students. As financial pressures mount, we know schools are being forced to make tough decisions, and cut back on staff. The fear is that school councillors, mental health training and non-academic aspects of the curriculum will be easy targets.
So, now’s the time for action. As Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee said yesterday, we need to think again about the very purpose of our school system.
It’s not just about exams, it’s about meeting children’s needs and giving them all the skills they need to thrive.