Ofsted 'should inspect mental health and wellbeing'

A major report also calls for teachers to be given better training in identifying pupils with mental health issues

Richard Vaughan

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Ofsted should inspect schools on the mental health and wellbeing of their students, an independent commission has recommended.

The Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health has also called for the prime minister to launch a “Challenge on Children’s Mental Health” to deal with the issue.

The proposals have been put forward in a document published by the Education Policy Institute.

The report, called Time to Deliver, warned that there have been indications of a “significant rise” in children’s mental health problems over the past five years, and it called for more action from the government.

It estimated that 720,000 children and young people are currently experiencing a mental health problem in England.

'We need urgent action'

The commission’s chair, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, said that while progress had been made since the government invested £1.4 billion to tackle mental health problems, “significant obstacles” remained.

“The prime minister in her very first speech rightly highlighted the inadequacies of the country’s mental health provision as a ‘burning injustice’,” Mr Lamb said.

“Today we call on the government to meet this commitment and take urgent action to ensure children and young people with mental health problems receive the care they need.”

One of the commission's recommendations was for Ofsted to pay more “specific attention to mental health and wellbeing” when inspecting schools.

The report also suggested that teachers should be given better training to identify children in need of support.

Every school senior leadership team should have a member who has undergone full mental health training, it added.

According to the commission, one in 10 young people aged between 5 and 16 has a mental health problem, which equates to three in every classroom in England.

The report also said that nearly a quarter of children (23 per cent) referred by teachers and GPs to specialist mental health services were being turned away.

The commission added to the wider call for mandatory, statutory personal, social and health education (PSHE) in all schools.   

The report stated that while teachers "are not mental health specialists", schools influence young people's wellbeing through areas such as the school ethos, curriculum and policies.

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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