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Bexley teachers concerned about children’s mental health

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 July 2018

Headteachers from across Bexley have expressed concerns about mental health support for pupils. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Headteachers from across Bexley have expressed concerns about mental health support for pupils. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Headteachers from across Bexley have expressed concerns about mental health support for pupils in the borough.

At a school forum meeting on June 25, school representatives outlined their worries that some aspects of the services were not being delivered in the best way.

The meeting was discussing school budgets, and questions were raised about the amount of cash spent on mental health support.

The heads were told more information about what is being provided would be shared at the next meeting, following confusion about what services could be provided by Public Health England and local clinical commissioning groups.

Corinne Botten, special school governor, told the meeting: “I wonder if there is any way to monitor what is coming into schools.

“It was a government initiative to put mental health into schools but the resource, I don’t think, has been put in place to that and we don’t seem to have the resources to do it.

“When governors recently had a presentation, it was clear to us that criteria is so high to access support – even a GP letter was not always enough. It is something that concerns us. We do have schools at all levels where children are suicidal for example, or parents and carers are not coping.

“I think it’s a strand that runs through every school. I am just concerned that millions of pounds has been allocated to it, and we are not seeing it on the ground.”

The council said services had a “dip” in staff shortages, but it was now back up.

Services can be provided by several different public bodies, leading to confusion and miscommunication about where care should be coming from.

Mark Hannon, headteacher of St Fidelis school in Erith, said: “We are struggling across two sectors to work in partnership. For me it is more about how do we monitor the outcomes that are happening in schools, rather than what is presented at the start.

“We are still finding our way with that. I think they are doing one thing, and they think they are doing something else.”

Council bosses said they recognised the concerns, and that it would be useful for members to sit on a transformation board that would clear up “myths” about the services, and for mental health professionals to address the concerns.

It was also said that a working group within the council would include schools.

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