The children’s commissioner has said she is looking for a dialogue with teachers to help her identify the key issues in children’s welfare.
And she has said that her priority for the remainder of her time in the post will be meeting the needs of vulnerable children who are falling through the gaps.
Speaking to Tes, Anne Longfield said: “I would really love a dialogue with teachers about the issues that they’re identifying and covering and facing, month in and month out.
“In my experience, there aren’t many people that know more about children’s welfare and what’s going on in children’s lives than the teachers that see them in the classroom every day.”
Falling through the gaps
She said that children in care or on the child protection register had already been identified as vulnerable. But she added: “Actually, there’s a group of other children that were vulnerable but weren’t high enough in vulnerability to get that support. And it seemed to me that they often fell through the gaps.”
Ms Longfield will devote the next three and a half years – the remainder of her tenure as children’s commissioner – to identifying and meeting the needs of these children.
Her first step will be to look at particular areas where she says some children are falling through the gaps: pupil referral units, alternative provision, home-schooling and madrasas.
She will also focus on lower-level mental health: pupils who are not ill enough to require the intervention of child and adolescent mental health services, but who experience low levels of anxiety or depression. Longfield estimates such cases account for 85 per cent of mental illness in schools.
“I’d like to see counsellors in every school – I think that’s what children want to see,” she said. “There’s a cost about that, and I think that cost will have to be met.”
Ms Longfield wants schools to serves as hubs for a range of different services for children: her goal, she says, would be to bring the services to the children, rather than vice versa.
“I’m a big supporter of agencies working together,” she said. “I love the idea that GPs go into schools. Social workers in schools.
“If you can get groups of different professionals, including voluntary sector, working around a school, you can offer a really valuable range of support for children, and for parents too.”
This is an edited article from the 23 June edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here