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Primary teachers 'ill-equipped' to spot pupils' mental health problems

But the vast majority believe that primary schools have a crucial role to play, survey finds

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But the vast majority believe that primary schools have a crucial role to play, survey finds

The vast majority of primary teachers in England believe that primary schools have a crucial role to play in identifying pupils with mental-health issues, but very few of them feel personally equipped to do so.

And almost three-quarters would like to see mental health become a compulsory topic of education in all primaries.

The poll of 400 primary teachers,  commissioned by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and conducted by YouGov, reveals that 92 per cent of primary teachers believe that schools can play a key role in identifying pupils with mental-health problems.

But only 10 per cent agreed strongly, when asked whether they had the necessary training to feel confident about how to respond to a child with a mental-health problem.

And fewer than half – 42 per cent – said that they felt confident about which organisations to approach to help these pupils.

Primary teachers respond

Earlier this week, Tes reported that the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families launched a short film highlighting the importance of talking to pupils about mental health.

But few teachers feel equipped to do this. Almost half of respondents in the NAHT survey – 41 per cent – said that they had not taught a class on mental health as part of a planned lesson during the last year, or could not recall when they had last taught such a class.

But most believe that such lessons should be happening: 72 per cent believe that mental health should be a compulsory curriculum topic for primary pupils.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “We know schools have a vital role to play in promoting pupil wellbeing, and in the early identification of children with mental-health needs.”

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