A charity is calling for Ofsted to put wellbeing at the heart of its new inspection framework, as a survey revealed teachers are spending over half a day a week on pupils' mental health.
In an open letter to chief inspector Amanda Spielman, YoungMinds charity said that integrating mental health into ratings criteria would incentivise schools to tackle the “crisis in our classrooms”.
“When school leadership teams have to make difficult decisions about how to spend their limited budgets, it can be hard for them to make wellbeing initiatives a priority,” says the letter, which has been signed more than 22,000 times.
“We very much welcome your recent announcement that the new inspection framework will no longer focus on exam results and grades. But we urge you to build on this by ensuring that wellbeing is at its heart.”
This week the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, told MPs the government should quadruple its mental health plans to encompass all schools.
The government has committed £1.4 billion to expand mental health services to reach a third of young people by 2020-21, but the National Audit Office has warned current figures dramatically underestimate the scale of the problem.
According to survey results published by YoungMinds today, teachers spend an average of 4.5 hours every week responding to concerns around their students’ wellbeing or mental health.
Among the 5,095 teachers who had been teaching for more than five years, 94 per cent had seen a rise in pupils presenting with mental health problems over that period.
Sixty per cent of the total 6,719 surveyed said they had taught a child who they believed to be self-harming, while 44 per cent said they had pupils who they thought had eating disorders.
More than 80 per cent said they did not think teachers get enough support for their own wellbeing and mental health.
“These results clearly show that mental health is becoming a more and more prominent issue in our classroom,” said YoungMinds chief executive Emma Thomas.
“While schools shouldn’t be expected to do the job of specialist mental health services, they have an important role to play in promoting wellbeing and intervening quickly when problems first emerge.”