We’re concerned the government’s announcement of limited funding for its education recovery programme will have a devastating impact on the mental health of children and young people.

We believe the package is a missed opportunity to ensure no pupil is left behind in the recovery from the pandemic.

It ignored crucial evidence that mental health support – such as counselling – needed to be included in the recovery plan.

Instead of the £13.5 billion over three years calculated by independent, evidence-based research unit The Education Policy Institute (EPI), the Prime Minister announced £1.4 billion for the long-term recovery plan to help pupils in England make up for lost learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Half-hearted approach"

The announcement triggered the resignation of the recently-appointed education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins who described the announcement as a "half-hearted approach" which "risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils."

Critically for us, the EPI report which was published in mid-May included an unequivocal call to ensure that the mental health of all pupils is included in the recovery plan and is adequately resourced.

It highlighted the psychological impact of the pandemic on children and young people and acknowledged the evidence base for counselling to reduce psychological distress, stating that flexibility on how schools can use extra government funding must include opportunity to buy in counselling services.

Labour and the NASUWT Union have reiterated their support for school counselling in their responses to the Government's recovery plan.

Failure to fully invest

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: "The evidence from The Education Policy Institute has been ignored by the government, and ultimately it will be England’s children who pay the price of this failure to fully invest in their educational recovery.

"We believe the government should rethink its decision to ignore the expertise and evidence-based advice that it has received.

"We urge our members and partners, and the public at large to continue to support our school counselling campaign to ensure that school-based counselling is available to all children and young people who need it.

"Ensuring children and young people are supported with the mental health impact of the pandemic is vital in also ensuring they are able to catch up on missed learning. 

"School counselling can be a transformative experience and we believe funding for paid school counsellors is crucial to supporting children and young people, who are struggling with their mental health because of the far-reaching consequences of Covid-19, to go on and thrive."

Support for school counselling

Labour has released its own plan called the Children’s Recovery Plan which sets out proposals for all children to ‘play, learn and develop’.

This plan includes quality mental health support in every school.

It says this would "give every child the support they need to transition back to school and manage personal challenges, with access to qualified in-school counselling staff alongside boosting wellbeing through extra activities."

And the NASUWT Teacher’s Union's response to the Government's plan has also highlighted the importance of school counselling.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: "The Government needs to recognise that schools alone cannot solve the problems caused by the pandemic and that substantial additional investment will also be needed for a raft of essential services to support children and families, including investment in mental health and counselling services."

Support our campaign

The latest stage in our school campaign is asking for members, organisations and the general public to support our petition asking for an emergency resilience fund to be available in schools and colleges.

This will help head teachers and college principals to access additional funding to pay for vital counselling provision.

Join us in our school counselling campaign and sign our emergency resilience fund petition.