In May 2017, our predecessor Committees published the report of a joint inquiry into Children and young people’s mental health—the role of education. The report emphasised the front line role of schools and colleges in promoting and protecting children and young people’s mental health and well-being. It also highlighted the need for education and mental health services to work closely together in order to improve these outcomes.
We welcome the publication of the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care’s Green Paper on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision.
However, whilst welcoming the direction of travel, we are disappointed that the recommendations of our predecessors’ report have not been fully taken into account. The Government’s strategy lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it. The narrow scope does not take several vulnerable groups into account, and the proposals put significant pressure on the teaching workforce without guaranteeing sufficient resources. There is also little or no attention to prevention or early intervention. The suggested speed of delivery will leave hundreds of thousands of children with no improvements in provision for several years and with possibly worsened provision if staff leave to join trailblazer areas elsewhere.
We heard evidence that the Green Paper does not adequately connect to other relevant policies, for example opportunity areas and social mobility, and misses opportunities to address fragmented services. Witnesses raised concerns that the Government was “tinkering” rather than using the opportunity to “truly transform” the system. We want to see more evidence that the changes proposed in the Green Paper will join up services in a way that places children and young people at the heart of the strategy.
Other concerns raised with us included:
We also heard about potential risks to implementation of the Green Paper, including:
The long timeframes involved in the strategy will leave hundreds of thousands of children and young people unable to benefit from the proposals. Rolling out the plans to only “a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022/23” is not ambitious enough. We advocate more widespread implementation and iterative learning methods to inform best practice across the piece.
Published: 9 May 2018