It’s 2022 in Britain’s classrooms, and we’re on a one-way route to normal. Bubbles have long since burst, masks are increasingly seldom-seen, cases are plummeting and testing is no longer a school’s duty. Could now really be the time, once and for all, for the school sector to call a wrap on the pandemic and live like we used to live?
If only it were so simple. While many of the more visible markers of the Covid-19 era are receding, the experience has had such a stark effect on our children’s mental health that any return to how things were years past seems a long way off. In July 2021, a sixth of children between five and 16 were identified with a probable mental health problem. This is a precipitous, deeply concerning rise from the equivalent figure in 2017 of just one in nine.
This is a perilous moment for all of us working in education, but it also presents the opportunity for longer-term change. We mustn’t brush over this troubling surge in emotional distress among our young people and rush to declare business as usual. Children’s mental health and wellbeing must shape our approach to education at every level, from DfE policy to MAT strategy to classroom technique.
Protocol Education has long worked with schools and alternative providers to help them foster emotional resilience in their pupils. We train our people to deal with even the most severe cases of poor mental health in young people. After such a grueling two years, we were especially proud to take part in Children’s Mental Health Week 2022, which took place between 7-13 February.
To mark the event, Protocol Education hosted a special webinar on how to support children with severe and profound learning disabilities who have been affected by trauma. The session was delivered by Dr Julie Calveley, a highly experienced learning disability nurse and Founder Director of NAC, a company dedicated to the emotional wellbeing of individuals with severe learning disabilities and complex needs. The webinar was made freely available to all our registered educators, and is available to watch back on demand here.
Children’s Mental Health Week was set up by charity Place2Be, who provide counselling and mental health support and training in schools across the country. To raise money for their mission to improve young people’s wellbeing, Protocol Education staff across our different branches joined hundreds of schools in donning their most flamboyant outfits in Place2Be’s Dress2Express costume competition.
The nation’s children have dealt with two years of hardship at some of the most crucial stages in their development. Protocol Education will do everything we can to cultivate mental and emotional health in the thousands of young people we work with every year. We are proud to stand with organisations like Place2Be and their work to bring mental health to the forefront of the educational agenda.