Mental health report calls for regular PSHE and dedicated ITT

A major report from the Coalition for Youth Mental Health stresses the need for regular PSHE education curriculum time alongside an initial teacher training (ITT) route for PSHE teachers.

The Coalition for Youth Mental Health is made up of high performing multi-academy trusts and leading independent schools working together to find ways to support children and young people’s mental health. Its ‘Fixing a failing system - rethinking mental health in schools for the post-covid generation’ report presents new evidence of increasing mental health issues and includes a range of recommendations relating to counselling, CAMHS, teacher training, phone use and the curriculum. 

The report argues that that when ‘taught well, PSHE can have a huge impact on the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people’ but that ‘it is often an afterthought in schools’.

To address this, it recommends:

  • A commitment to at least one timetabled PSHE education lesson every week for all pupils in all schools. This would allow effective planning, sequencing, teaching and assessment as of PSHE education (including statutory RSHE) as well as greater legitimacy among staff and students. The report suggests that limiting PSHE to one-off events, assemblies or irregular lessons inevitably results in only superficial coverage.
  • Government investment in a new ITT route for specialist PSHE teachers: it recommends £11.6 million a year from 2023 into Initial Teacher Training to ensure every secondary school in England has a specialist trained PSHE teacher by 2030.

This report is the result of a major study involving academic research, opinion polling and focus groups. Expert witnesses included the Children’s Commissioner, leading children’s mental health charities, advisors to the Department for Education and our Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley.

Commenting on the report, Jonathan said:

“Mental health’s too important to cover in the odd assembly, so all schools must be supported and encouraged to guarantee regular PSHE education curriculum time. Compulsory Health Education was a major step forward, but this report makes it clear that the delivery model makes all the difference. Many teachers and schools are doing a great job but we want access to high quality PSHE for all.

A minimum weekly PSHE lesson in every school will help ensure mental health education that makes a difference and help satisfy Ofsted’s requirement for ‘a carefully sequenced RSHE curriculum’.

We also strongly welcome the call for investment in initial teacher training, to help ensure all teachers are better equipped and supported to plan and teach this vital subject. PSHE isn’t a one-size-fits-all subject, so every school must have the expertise to tailor it to their pupils’ needs.”

Read the report 

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