Today (Tuesday 21 September), Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza publishes the findings of her Big Ask survey.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said: “As the Children’s Commissioner’s research attests, the current crop of school pupils is anything but a ‘lost generation’. They are thoughtful and full of hope for the future. They are determined to see that progress is made on the issues that are most important to them, like climate change and equality.
“There is no doubt that the intense work of schools during the last eighteen months shielded many young people from the worst effects of the pandemic. The Prime Minister's promise that no child would be left behind due to lost-learning during the pandemic now needs to be delivered.
“Many aspects of the Children’s Commissioner’s report resonate with what NAHT has found in surveys of our own members, and with what we have been urging government to do. Whilst there will be many different conflicting priorities this autumn, the case must be made that funding educational recovery is an investment in this country's future, not simply another drain on the nation’s finances. Now is the time for the government to get serious about recovery. With the Comprehensive Spending Review due in a just a few weeks, there is no time to waste.
“School leaders have seen the impact that the pandemic has had on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Pupils need not only academic support, but a wide range of pastoral support too, all of which requires additional resources. We back this report’s suggestions for improved, expanded mental health support for children and families because schools cannot be the only place children or their families are able to turn to for help with their mental health and wellbeing. The provision of well-integrated and well-funded health and social care services is vital. Sadly, these services have been seriously damaged by a decade of austerity.
“On the issue of online safety, while schools play a part in educating children and young people, greater responsibility must be taken by online providers to regulate the access children and young people have to inappropriate online content. If websites and platforms are to be used by children and young people, providers must ensure that the content and function is appropriate for the age of those users and that they actively help to keep them safe.”
First published 20 September 2021