(2) if he will bring forward plans for a comprehensive national independent school-based counselling service for children and young people who need to access it;
(3) how many children in England have access to independent school-based counselling services.
We believe that individual schools are best placed to decide the arrangements which should be put in place to meet the needs of their pupils; if a school decides to provide a counselling service, it is free to choose an external provider or directly to provide the service on an ‘in-house’ basis. The Department does not collect data on the amount spent on independent school-based counselling services or on the number of children who have access to such services.
There are already many alternative sources of help for pupils experiencing difficulties within and outside school, including learning mentors, Connexions personal advisers and Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs). They can all help pupils tackle problems in schools (e.g. bullying, poor attendance) and they can provide young people with access to specialist services that treat problems such as anxiety, depression, eating problems, drug addiction and family breakdown.
Supporting the psychological well being and mental health of pupils is already a key component of school based programmes such as the National Healthy Schools programme and social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL). Through the development of comprehensive Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) we are seeing increasing numbers of CAMHS teams working in more effective and innovative ways with their local schools and extended schools.