Our Children, Young People and Families Lead Jo Holmes welcomed a commitment by Labour to ensure every school in England has access to a trained counsellor.

Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time Bridget Phillipson, the Shadow Education Secretary, confirmed Labour’s plan to provide school counselling in England if they win the next General Election.

Early access

Responding to an audience question about what a Labour Government would do to improve access to mental health services in schools Ms Phillipson said: “Early access to care, support and ongoing treatment is incredibly important, that’s why Labour would make sure mental health support is directly within our schools.

“We want a trained mental health counsellor available in every secondary school.”

Speaking to a school counsellor can be a transformative experience for children and young people. It can help them cope with the difficult circumstances they face in their lives – and to go on and flourish in the future.

England is lagging in its provision of counselling in schools. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have government-funded school counselling services, while England does not.

This means some schools have provision, others don't. In our 2023 Public Perceptions Survey most parents (85%) said that counselling services should be freely available in schools. The survey also revealed that almost one-in-five children had asked their parents for access to a counsellor.

School counselling campaign

All of which is why we’re campaigning for a paid counsellor to be available in every secondary school, academy and FE college in England.

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead said: “We are delighted to hear the Labour Party’s commitment to funding school counselling provision in England.

“We have been pleased to advise the Shadow Education Team on costings, based on all our learning from working with devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where funding streams for universal school-based counselling provision are already well-established.

“We’ve recently launched our guidance for school leaders and commissioners, outlining best practice in school counselling provision, which will further support implementation of this very welcomed commitment.”

Welcome commitment

We’ve been working in close partnership with Citizens UK and key teaching unions to jointly call for additional funding for national school counselling provision following a successful evaluation of counselling provision in the North East of England.

Reverend Dr Simon Mason, chair of Citizens UK school-based counselling campaign, also welcomed the commitment.

He said: “This is the kind of early intervention and ongoing support Citizens UK and its national allies have been campaigning for.

“Our evidence-based research demonstrates that, the provision of a trained mental health counsellor in every secondary school will address the mental health challenges of children and young people whose needs fall outside the remit of Mental Health Support Teams and that of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services.”

Find out more about our School counselling in England campaign.