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Emphasis on emotional health

(Photograph) - PETER WILSON (pictured right)

Director of Youth Minds, the National Association of Child and Family Mental Health

My key priorities would be teacher training and support. The emphasis on the national curriculum means not enough recognition is being given to the emotional well-being of children and other developmental issues.

I am concerned about how well teachers are being trained about children's development, the kinds of problems children can present and how best to respond. The educational agenda has become too tightly focused around achievement.

I am really worried about how much teachers are taught about how children develop, and how their education is affected by emotional factors. You won't get the best out of children unless you are tuned into how ready they are to learn.

With all the pressures teachers are under, they need all the assistance they can get, particularly for children with behavioural difficulties in the classroom.

They need back-up and a whole array of educational help for difficult children including remedial help and on-site special needs centres. We have exclusions many of which I think would be needless if there were better facilities to deal with children and teachers were better trained and equipped to spot those children early on.

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