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Meeting the challenge of mental health

It is not often that I concur with the sentiments of Anne Thrope (Ms). However, I have to agree wholeheartedly with her article "I failed to understand" (1 March).

Dealing with a vast array of pastoral issues during the course of a normal school day, I often wish that Michael Gove or Sir Michael Wilshaw could sit in on our frequent "team around the child" meetings. They might then see just how overworked social services are becoming and just how overstretched the multi-agency teams are. They might realise the sheer complexity of pupil needs that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, educational psychologists and school health services attempt to address. Of course, frustratingly, each of these agencies is able to say "the pupil won't engage" and thus their work with the young person ends, leaving the school to pick up the pieces. This leaves the pupil at risk and the members of staff who teach them often ashamed, as Ms Anne Thrope says, in their attempts to get work out of children who have far bigger concerns than their English coursework.

Thankfully, schools do not have the option of accepting non-engagement as a means of clearing caseloads from overworked staff. So, I would ask Mr Gove and Sir Michael, how on earth do we get the pupil described in Ms Anne Thrope's article, and the countless others like him, to make their three levels of progress?

K. Valentine, Assistant headteacher, Nottingham.

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