Healthy MindED Conference programme announced

North East conference on the mental health issues affecting children and young people will bring together leading experts and over a hundred school delegates.

Healthy MindED logo - white background

Secure your place at the Healthy MindED conference today – email or visit the event website for more information. 

We are delighted to be joined by Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, who will be explaining the current policy landscape for children and young people’s mental health. Professor Bailey is also co-chair of Healthy MindED, the first and only schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health.

Also presenting will be Professor Miranda Wolpert of the Anna Freud Centre and University College London, the UK’s leading expert on what works and what doesn’t regarding children and young people’s mental health. This will also be the focus on her keynote speech.
There will also be numerous presentations from schools and the health services sharing examples of best practice in areas such as whole school approaches to mental health, making effective CAMHS referrals, and managing transitions within and between schools.
The Healthy MindED Conference will take place on Thursday 8 June at the Durham County Cricket Club in Chester-le-Street. The complete programme with more information about plenary and breakout sessions is available to download here. Please note this is provisional and all timings are subject to change.


New mental health resource for young people launched in North Tyneside

A resource pack aiming to promote positive mental health in North Tyneside’s young people was launched at an event on 16th May.

As part of the council’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Strategy, the Emotionally Healthy Schools Resource Pack was on show at the Langdale Centre on Tuesday 16 May.

Consultation has been held previously where both schools and parents reported growing concerns about the mental health and emotional wellbeing of young people.

As a result of this, the resource pack has been put together to help schools and families understand the importance of supporting a young person’s emotional wellbeing and how to recognise when they may need additional support.

Cllr Ian Grayson, cabinet member for Young People, said: “Mental health is a huge part of a young person’s wellbeing and it’s important that it is treated as such.

“Just as you can improve your physical health, you can protect your mental health so that you are able to think, feel and act in a way that allows you to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents.

“This new resource pack will help schools and parents in North Tyneside to better understand mental health and make sure they know how best to support any young people who may need it.”

The resource pack is available in all North Tyneside schools and on the council website at

For more information on the resource pack please contact Jemma Hurrell, Commissioning Manager ( tel: 01916437775.

Researchers weigh in on free school breakfasts costs

Researchers say the Conservative Party pledge of universal free school breakfasts would cost between £180m and £400m.

Education Datalab, a group of experts who produce independent, cutting-edge research, said the manifesto pledge, which aims to offer free breakfasts to all primary school children, assumes food costs of 25p per pupil and does not include staff costs.

The group of academics led by Dr Rebecca Allen found that, when including all other costs, the party’s offer would cost £400m on a 50% take-up. They also discovered the pledge was based on an evaluation by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies of the Magic Breakfast charitable scheme, which relied on donated food.

The Conservative Party manifesto initially costed universal free school breakfasts at £60m. A spokesperson commented that the manifesto based its initial costing on a 25% take-up rate in free breakfasts. They added:

We’re promising to set up a free breakfast club, similar to the ones that the EEF/IFS said were as useful as universal infant free school meals, so that every child who would like a breakfast in school can have one.

These clubs didn’t have 100% uptake – only about 25% of children attended, as in a Department for Education trial of breakfast clubs – but they still had positive effects for all the children in the school.

If many more children now start eating breakfast in school, then the costs will go up – but the evidence of two large trials is that they won’t.

Dr Allen argued that if free breakfast clubs acted as a proper childcare substitute, parents would feel more inclined to opt out of childminders and providers services in favour of the free clubs.




Articulating messy thoughts

Anyone that knows me will tell you when asked the question ‘what is Mike’s passion?’ that the answer will, without a doubt, be looked after children and mental health. These issues are very close to my heart for several reasons, but mainly because I’ve lived with, cared for and worked with these children for many years now. No amount of professional training or qualifications shape my work as much as my own lived and shared experiences within my home. I am grateful for these unique experiences and I have been fortunate enough to experience the remarkable aspects of their being, but also witness these children falling into vulnerable and challenging spaces.

In my opinion, part of the issue in dealing with the challenge of mental health in our children is that we sometimes fail to recognise that the difficulties a child may be experiencing is often situational. Chemical imbalance, ‘lack of resilience’ and ‘emotionally sensitive’ are all phrases I hear used regularly. Of course there are children who may fall into these categories and neurotransmitters certainly play a part but there is a bigger picture here. Life is anything but linear and in my own experiences, situations have played a huge role in my own mental health. Often plunging me into mental illness or pushing my towards over functioning. This is the same for our children.

We all know that a child’s formative years are crucial. We also know that the children who are placed in the care system have experienced much trauma during and after these early years in their development. We know what comes next, but I ask you to just take a minute to contemplate this part of their lives…

That child goes into a new home, with new care givers. Often this may not be long term. They then go into school where the system expects them to function at the same level as other children their age. Then there’s also the lack of therapeutic input much of the time because of funding, provision or their age. We just accept that this is the case without really giving it due consideration. I have often questioned in my training and work why it is that we don’t pause to think on this more. Because here is the reality.

Continue reading “Articulating messy thoughts”

2017 General Election: main Parties pledge more mental health support in schools

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservative Party all promise to help schools improve the mental health support they offer to pupils.

All three manifestos published this week include proposals and plans for better mental health provision to help tackle the growing issue.

The Liberal Democrats pledge to: 

  • Ensure that all teaching staff have the training to identify mental health issues and that schools provide immediate access for pupil support and counselling.
  • Include promoting wellbeing as a statutory duty of a school, to be part of the Ofsted inspection framework.
  • Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.

The Labour Party pledges to: 

  • Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health, at a cost of £90 million per year.

The Conservative Party pledges to: 

  • Introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every primary and secondary school by the end of the parliament.
  • Ensure that every school has a single point of contact with mental health services.
  • Include mental wellbeing and the mental health risks of internet harms in the curriculum.

SCHOOLS NorthEast welcomes the Parties’ focus on improving the mental health support available for children and young people in schools across the country. This has been a major concern for Head Teachers in the North East, which resulted in the launch of Healthy MindED – SCHOOLS NorthEast’s schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health.

Find out more about how to improve pupils’ wellbeing and mental health in your school – book your place today for our full-day Healthy MindED Conference.

Taking place on Thursday 8th of June, the event will hear from leading experts as well as schools and health services sharing examples of best practice. Visit the event website for more information. 

National Citizen Service Bill receives Royal Assent as new social mobility research shows participation in NCS boosts university admission

A new report using data from UCAS shows young people who take part in the extra-curricular National Citizen Service programme are significantly more likely to get into university, with an almost 50% increase in higher education participation for the most disadvantaged.

A groundbreaking new longitudinal research report released today shows that young people who take part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) are significantly more likely to get into university. The impact is greatest among those from the most disadvantaged areas, amounting to half of the current gap in university admission between the poorest areas and the rest in a major boost for social mobility.

This data is released following the National Citizen Service Bill receiving Royal Assent, having received cross party support. The legislation will help ensure that NCS is there for young people for generations to come, enshrining the programme in statute and granting it a Royal Charter. It will also help NCS to grow even more quickly, with the ability to write to all young people as they turn sixteen, inviting them to take part in the summer programme. This summer more than 100,000 young people are expected to take part in NCS, with over 5,100 signed up in the North East, making it the largest and fastest growing youth movement for 16-17 year olds in the country.

As teenagers prepare to take exams, the report, which analyses data provided by UCAS, shows that university admission is about more than just exam grades. Since its launch in 2009, NCS has given more than 300,000 young people from all social backgrounds the opportunity to spend four weeks experiencing the great outdoors, learning important life skills and volunteering in their local community.

This new social impact report revealed that the higher education participation rate for NCS graduates was on average 12% higher than for non-NCS graduates. However, most marked was the impact of NCS on young people living in areas of low and medium participation in higher education. The data revealed NCS graduates living in areas with the lowest rates of higher education participation were almost 50% more likely to go onto university or college than non-NCS graduates – thereby closing the higher education participation gap between these areas and the current national average by more than half.

In addition, the research report released today also looked at the significant impact that NCS has on boosting wellbeing, increasing life satisfaction and reducing anxiety. Taken together with the impact on university admissions, it found that the government funded programme had a positive return on investment. For every pound invested in NCS, up to £8.36 was returned in social benefits.

In the North East NCS is delivered by a partnership of v•Inspired and the National Youth Agency (NYA) alongside thirteen local delivery partners.

Contract Director for NCS North East, Kim Smith, said: “The passing of Royal Assent further cements NCS as a rite of passage for young people in the North East. The latest research that suggests NCS graduates are more sought after for university places is encouraging, particularly for deprived areas of the region where NCS has opened up the option of university for many. It is also worth noting that NCS boosts the CVs and personal statements for young people looking to secure apprenticeships and jobs with leading companies such as Accenture, who offer digital sector bootcamps for NCS North East graduates, as well as many local authorities and colleges, who recognise the value of NCS.”

Michael Lynas, CEO, NCS, said: “This important longitudinal study shows that NCS helps young people to get on in life – especially those from less well off backgrounds. NCS is leading to a 50% increase in higher education admission among the most disadvantaged – giving young people a leg up by learning vital life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. The investment in young people’s futures has a big social return for our country, up to over £8 for every £1 invested. I’d urge all sixteen year olds to take part in NCS after GCSEs this summer. Not only will they make new friends and have an adventure, they will also be fast tracking their future.”

Stephen Greene, Chair, NCS, said: “Today marks a milestone in the history of NCS. We are immensely proud of what the young people have achieved and the network of brilliant organisations who have made the programmes happen. Receiving Royal Assent recognises the vital role that NCS has in helping young people realise the difference they can make to their futures, their communities and their country. As we make the transition to being a Royal Charter body we will be seeking ways to partner with even more organisations, helping us ensure NCS is accessible to every young person in the land.”

Lord David Blunkett, Board Member, NCS, said: “NCS represents a fundamental investment in the future of our country, building strong foundations and knitting together the bonds that tie us together as citizens.”

Conservative Manifesto: ‘The world’s great meritocracy’ education pledges

The Conservative Party has published its 2017 General Election manifesto today, outlining their plans if they remain in government.


Below are the pledges made by the Party to the education system, based on the Conservatives’ desire to make Britain “a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow”:

  1. Deliver more school places by ending the ban on selective schools and continuing the free schools programme, aiming to build 100 new ones each year
  2. Prohibit councils from creating any new places in schools that have been rated either Inadequate or Requires Improvement
  3. Ask universities and independent schools to help run state schools
  4. Increase overall schools budget by £4bn by 2022 and ensure no school is worse off as part of the new funding formula
  5. Open a specialist maths school in every major city in England
  6. Introduce a curriculum fund for developing knowledge-rich materials
  7. Expect 75% of pupils to have entered EBacc subjects by end of next parliament, with 90% by 2025
  8. Offer forgiveness on student loan repayments for teachers to help retain them within the profession
  9. Create a jobs portal for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help with recruitment
  10. Offer free school breakfast to all primary school pupils and scrap universal infant free school meals 
  11. Introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every school
  12. Replace unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules preventing establishment of new Roman Catholic schools

The Conservative Party also wants to create more nurseries by introducing the presumption that all new primary schools should include one. They promise to deliver a world-class technical education by replacing 13,000 existing technical qualifications with the new T-levels.

Read the 2017 Conservative Manifesto here.

Continue reading “Conservative Manifesto: ‘The world’s great meritocracy’ education pledges”

Lib-Dem Manifesto: education pledges ‘Put children first’

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto for the 2017 General Election yesterday, pledging a £7bn investment in children’s education.


Leading with their belief that teachers should be “given the flexibility to apply their expertise and develop children’s passion for learning”, the Lib-Dems have set the following plan for education if they win this year’s General Election:

  1. Scrap grammar schools plans and devolve all capital money for new school spaces to local authorities
  2. Introduce a fairer National Funding System with a protection for all schools
  3. End the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises
  4. Extend the free school meal programme to all primary school pupils
  5. Introduce 25 hours of high quality CPD by 2020, to rise to 50 by 2025
  6. Tackle teacher workload by reforming Ofsted inspections and focusing on an evidence-based approach
  7. Allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains
  8. Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum
  9. Prioritise primary progress measures instead of floor thresholds and work with the profession to reform tests at 11
  10. Provide training to all teaching staff to identify mental health issues
  11. Amend the Ofsted inspection framework to include promoting wellbeing as a statutory duty of schools
  12. Improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in employment and enterprise schemes

The above are the headline pledges, but the Liberal Democrats have published an extended education section of their manifesto which you can read here.

Their entire 2017 General Election manifesto is available to read here

Continue reading “Lib-Dem Manifesto: education pledges ‘Put children first’”

Labour Manifesto: ‘For the many, not the few’ education pledges

The Labour Party officially launched its manifesto for the 2017 General Election on Tuesday, 16th of May.


Labour is proposing to commit an extra £25.3bn for education, which will be funded from extra tax revenue.

Below is a round-up of the pledges made to the education sector:

  1. Create a unified National Education Service (NES) as one of the “central institutions of fairness” for the 21st century.
  2. Introduce a fairer funding formula to redress the historical underfunding of certain schools, which would leave “no school worse off”.
  3. Reduce class sizes to less than 30 pupils for all five-, six-, and seven-year-olds.
  4. Introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.
  5. Abandon baseline assessments and review SATs
  6. End the public sector pay gap and consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements with industry.
  7. Give teachers “more direct involvement” in the curriculum
  8. Reduce “monitoring and bureaucracy
  9. Reintroduce national pay bargaining for teachers.
  10. Undo requirement for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy
  11. Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health, at a cost of £90 million per year.
  12. Deliver an inclusive SEND strategy and embed it more substantially into training for all school staff

Labour also promised to extend free childcare to 30 hours for all two-year-olds, scrap tuition fees in England and reintroduce maintenance allowances.

Last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that extending free school meals to all primary school pupils would cost a Labour government £950m each year.

Read the 2017 Labour Manifesto here

Continue reading “Labour Manifesto: ‘For the many, not the few’ education pledges”

Worth a MOOC? Free industry recognised digital skills offer for schools and colleges

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership is supporting Accenture in rolling out their digital skills programme for school and college students aged 16+. The sessions, taught online and completely flexible in terms of when they can be delivered, cover:

• Digital fundamentals
• Social media
• Digital marketing
• User experience
• Mobility
• Analytics

On completing the course, students will achieve a quality mark from Accenture – one of the leading professional services companies – that they can use on their CV, as part of UCAS and in the workplace.

To participate in this exciting programme, please contact Dawn Bewick.