The Department for Education has set out details of the first round of funding for designated mental health leads (DMHLs) in schools as well as additional resources to fund resources for staff supporting children affected by the pandemic.
The DfE wants every school to have a DMHL by 2025 and has previously committed to fund the staff training that would be required to achieve this. Pilot schemes began work in December 2018 with 59 teams set up by March 2020 and a target of around 400 teams in place by April 2023.
The announcement, which was timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, revealed that £9.5 million had been earmarked for training DMHLs in the next academic year with the funding set to be made available to 7,800 schools and colleges.
The announcement also included a new £7 million Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which provides 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.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I know how difficult the pandemic has been for many children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and the next few months will be crucial in supporting their recovery. Getting back into the classroom was a vital step in this process but success in school and college goes beyond an excellent education – as parents we want our children to feel settled, calm and happy while they learn.”
At Thrive®, we welcome this funding announcement and the opportunity it offers schools to prioritise mental wellbeing so that children are in a place where they are able to access learning and meet, or even exceed, attainment targets. We know that prevention is better than cure when it comes to mental wellbeing and that the best way to develop resilient, healthy adults is to ensure that children have positive relationships with adults they trust so that they can develop the self-awareness and insight to recognise and express their emotional needs.
Thrive offers a whole-school approach to supporting the social and emotional development of children. It equips adults with the tools, skills and insights needed to help children and young people become more emotionally-resilient so that they are better placed to engage with learning and with life. Alongside our training, which is grounded in established neuroscience, attachment theory and child development, the Thrive Approach® also includes the Thrive-Online® web-based assessment and monitoring tool. This allows schools to identify social and emotional development needs, for individuals and groups of children, and to track progress as they move forwards. This data can be easily extracted and presented to use as evidence for reporting funding outcomes.
Schools which have embedded the Thrive Approach tell us that it works – with benefits often being felt in a short period of time.
Holly Pottle, Deputy Headteacher of Thomas Arnold Primary School in Dagenham, said: “Thrive has helped us to manage the impact of Covid-19 disruptions to our school community. We were quite worried about how the children would come back to school, but we have found that Thrive has definitely made the children more resilient. When we remained open for vulnerable and key worker children during the first lockdown, we continued Thrive work with them. For the children that were at home, we published Thrive based activities on the school website weekly. This was really important for us and, as a school, we prioritised Thrive support being available to all pupils during the lockdown. Pupils came back to school with such a positive attitude and they are really happy to be back. For us, this reaffirms that our approach to mental wellbeing is an ongoing success – our pupils are glad to be in school and they are thriving.”