There have been a number of key parliamentary and government reports in the past few years which have highlighted the importance of schools promoting children and young people’s mental health, attachment and wellbeing. These are listed below:
The Health Committee Report ‘Children’s and adolescents’ mental health and CAMHS’ in November 2014 recommended that awareness of mental health issues, child development and their implications should be a mandatory part of initial teacher training and continuing professional development.
The Department of Health (DoH) Report ‘Future in mind’ of March 2015 referred to the importance of whole school approaches to promoting mental health and wellbeing, with specific reference to vulnerable groups. It identified as a key issue ‘Significant gaps in data, information and system levers’ in this area.
The joint Department for Education (DfE) and Department of Health (DoH) Statutory guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked after children, published in May 2015, made specific reference to attachment aware schools.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines on children’s attachment, (November 2015) made specific reference to the importance of children’s experience at school and the need for further research in this field.
DfE Advice for school staff on mental health and behaviour in schools, (March 2016) again made specific reference to attachment awareness as an important issue.
The Education Committee report on The Mental health and well-being of looked-after children published in April 2016 included a witness session on this issue with specific reference to the work undertaken by Bath Spa University and other colleagues.
The Core Framework for Initial Teacher Training, published by the DfE in July 2016 included attachment awareness as a core part of the programme for trainee teachers.
Public Health England ‘Improving the mental health of children and young people in England’(December 2016) identified secure attachment as the most important protective factor for children, and called for schools to have a positive climate that enhances belonging and connectedness, an ‘open door’ policy for children to raise problems and a whole school approach to promoting good mental health.
The DfE research review ‘Children and young people’s mental health: peer support’ (March 2017) again highlighted the importance of emotional literacy and talking therapies.
The Education and Health Select Committees’ joint report in April 2017 - Children and young people’s mental health – the role of education, stated that all teachers should be trained to recognise mental health issues, and that senior leadership must embed well-being throughout the whole culture and provision of the school. The report also pointed out that ‘Promoting attainment and well-being is not a ‘zero-sum activity’’ and that good schools do both.
The DfE research report ‘Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges’, (August 2017) indicated a need for shared vision for mental health, strong leadership, trusting relationships and high quality training in schools.