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Schools: Counselling

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many (a) primary school pupils and (b) secondary school pupils in England have access to a professional counsellor in their school; and by what mechanism such provision is funded; (297003)

(2) how much was spent on counselling in schools in (a) 2003-07 and (b) 2008.

The school funding system provides a sum per pupil in a local authority for it to distribute for all its education responsibilities including schools. Once delegated to a school, it is for the school governors to decide upon the use of the delegated budget to meet the school's priorities, which may include purchasing the services of a counsellor.

We do not collect information on the use of school funding in sufficient detail to capture information about which schools are providing counselling services and what is spent on these services. We do not collect information on which schools employ professional counsellors.

We are committed to improving the emotional and mental health of children and young people and to help them develop social and emotional skills, improve self-esteem and self-control, enabling them to develop good relationships and to promote their resilience, so they can adapt to change and cope with difficult circumstances. This may include the use of services such as counselling.

Access to counselling services has been provided locally through a number of DCSF initiatives developed in recent years. Counselling services may be provided through schools (including Pupil Referral Units) working with other agencies such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, social care and or third sector organisations. For pupils with behaviour related difficulties, counselling support may be provided through local Behaviour and Education Support Teams and Learning Support Units.

Supporting the psychological well being and mental health of pupils is a key component of whole school programmes such as the Healthy Schools Programme and the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme. Such programmes are intended for pupils generally and may need to be supplemented by more specialist support for certain pupils.

The “Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future” White Paper, published in June, stated that in order that every young person in secondary school gets the help they need to progress in learning and has a source of personal support, we will make sure that each one has a Personal Tutor who knows them well and who will support them in planning their learning, in making choices and through difficult times.

The Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) programme, funded by £60 million between 2008-2011, builds on the successful social and emotional aspects of learning programme (SEAL) for those pupils who need additional support. Some of the schools involved in the programme have chosen to offer counselling-based approaches as part of their package therapeutic interventions to children at risk of developing mental health problems.