Dr Dave Walters, Exeter University Honorary Fellow, Research Director of Thinking Schools experts Thinking Matters, and former secondary school Deputy Head, responds to the Budget announcement on funding for the establishment of specialist teams in schools supporting pupils and crisis teams linking schools, colleges and social services to other mental health services:

‘The Chancellor’s Budget announcement that mental health services are to receive a £2bn cash injection by 2023/24 in a bid to create a parity between physical and mental health treatment is to be welcomed.

While the enormous growth in demand for mental health support among our young people has complex causes, there is growing evidence that the education system’s overwhelming focus on exams – high-stakes testing – is a contributory cause. Pupils and teachers are exhibiting levels of mental health issues never before imagined.

‘The exam factory model comes at an enormous cost at a human level.

 

‘Thinking Schools put the children first and prioritise their all-round development and growth. And by doing this, the outcomes take care of themselves.

‘In Thinking Schools, the emphasis is on cognitive, or thinking, skills. This has to be a whole- school approach, where children are taught how to think, monitor their thinking and self-regulate their learning habits

‘The Government has taken a backward step in emphasising the importance of fact learning, based on worries that the UK was falling behind in international education league tables, such as Pisa. But that move was made based on a narrow interpretation and that successful nations were moving in the opposite direction, putting the UK at risk of falling further behind.’

Thinking Matters works with schools all over the UK and overseas which want to become accredited Thinking Schools.

For more on accredited Thinking Schools, visit http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/education/thinkingschools/

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