It feels like there’s been a seismic shift in the support for Government funded school and college counselling provision for children and young people in England. When I started working for BACP in January 2019, it often seemed as if we were a lone voice campaigning for access to paid, trained counsellors in every school and college in England.
But in the past few months, it’s been heart-warming to hear MPs speaking out in support of school counselling during a debate in Parliament.
I’ve been thrilled to see high profile organisations such as the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Local Government Association (LGA), all speak publicly this year about the need for counsellors in every school.
And I can’t forget the thousands of letters our members sent to MPs in 2020, as part of our Invest in School Counselling campaign calling for additional funding.
It no longer feels like we’re a lone voice.
But how do we turn all these voices from a lot of positive noise – into something that makes a real difference?
How do we ensure this support is something that results in England finally being on a level playing field with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when it comes to investment in school counselling?
One way is by working with these other voices. We’re building relationships with individuals and organisations, and the MPs who spoke in Parliament. We’re sharing information with them and highlighting the skills and expertise of our members. I’ve been privileged to be in some really positive meetings and conversations with people who share our messages and ideas about increased funding for school counselling. The more people talking about this and emphasising the need for paid counsellors in schools, the more chance the Government will listen. We need this to become a ‘movement’ that the Government can’t ignore.
We have a good working relationship with the Department for Education and recently advised on the need for a rewrite of the 2015 Counselling in Schools Guidance, originally written as a blueprint for schools considering employing counselling services. BACP, alongside a number of key organisational representatives, have met with the DfE to look at next steps, which will include guidance for colleges, too. These are important inroads for us.
We’re also drawing on our members’ expertise and experience. Our school and college-based counselling expert reference group has gone from strength to strength.
They’re telling us what’s happening on the ground and helping us to explore new campaign ideas.
They’ve helped us involve school and college leaders so they have a voice in future campaign work.
We’ve now developed a school and college leaders survey to help us understand more about the current situation in schools and colleges. It will help us shape future campaigns.
We’ve strengthened our links with the Association of School and College Leaders, the NAHT and NASUWT, who’ve kindly shared the survey to schools and colleges. It’s their members who will be able to give us a powerful insight into where their funding comes from for school counselling, how it’s changed in recent years, and how much demand and need there is for further support.
Other organisations are also helping us share the survey so we can reach as many school staff as possible, including Education Support, the Charlie Waller Trust, Young Minds, Kooth, Place2Be, the Association of Colleges, Citizen’s UK and the Children and Young People Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC). The Local Government Association are on board too.
We’re hoping this further insight into school counselling across the UK will be a boost as we continue campaigning.
If you know a head teacher or school or college leader who may be interested in completing our survey, please do share this link below with them.
I’m looking forward to sharing the findings of the survey and the next steps in our campaigning with you in the future.
School counselling in England campaign
We believe that a paid counsellor should be available in every secondary school, academy and FE college in England.
BACP Children, Young People and Families division
BACP CYPF is for practitioners and other professionals interested in counselling and psychotherapy for children and young people.
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Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.