I guess I’ve gotten used to daily debates about remote learning standards, policy decisions on the fly and heartbreaking numbers reporting loss of life portrayed like a totaliser. But when did education become more about ‘stuff ‘ than the pupil? More devices, more free resources, more money, more tutoring, more Pupil premium – more of the same.
When did we lose our unrelenting focus on our young people and stimulating their love of learning? When in our policy making did we lose sight of our humanity, and our shared love of life? We need to get back to basics.
Those of us on the ground, those involved day-to-day in the running of schools, or in mental health support, are seeing our young people in turmoil like never before. Anxiety, isolation, self-harm, abuse, PTSD, suicide – every barometer, EVERY BAROMETER, is pointing to a seismic issue. A generation which is so troubled due to this pandemic, a ‘perfect storm’ in our most disadvantaged communities, and we are not doing enough. Not close.
In the UK 40% of young people say that ‘they cannot cope with life’. Pause and let that sink in. It won’t be much different I’d wager across the world. 40% cannot cope with life….so how possibly can they learn?.
I have by my side a report from the Sutton Trust, a trusted advisor to the DfE, published today (21/01/21) which recommends £2bn+ of extra funding in England to support the education system but not one penny (not a mention even) goes towards mental health and wellbeing support. NOT ONE PENNY! How can that be?
We can no longer ask whether we can afford to invest in mental health. The make it or break it question is not if we should invest in mental health, it’s how we pour our efforts into the growing mental health pandemic to help support the generation most in need.
This isn’t about permission, top down direction, a fad or a mandate – this is about the very nature of what it means to educate. Let’s shine a light on wellbeing for teachers and the pupils they serve, and ensure that learning and wellbeing are conjoined, and not disparate. Once we build wellbeing into the fabric of education we will start to demonstrate our humanity, and give our young people the support that they need.
GLUU, through the eduu.school project, is leading this system change by creating a public-private partnership bringing together powerhouses in mental health and publishing combined with a leading Multi-Academy Trust to keep our delivery grounded, and to address wellbeing alongside learning. The MVP proved the model and we are now set to scale nationally and internationally. We want to progress this collaboratively and from within, and engage with teachers to rebuild practice in the new world of hybrid.
 Prince’s Trust Jan ‘21