Parents prioritise pupil wellbeing over extra spend on school trips

Children's mental health is recognised as a priority among parents
Children's mental health is recognised as a priority among parents

Parents are increasingly aware of the need for child mental health support in schools, new polling suggests, as they prioritise investment in happiness and wellbeing over school trips.

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In its annual survey, charity Parentkind polled parents on their thoughts and concerns, with many revealing rising fears over costs such as the price of uniforms and school dinners.

The survey polled parents of school age pupils about their fears and experiences and where they believed additional funding should be spent. Image: PA

The survey polled parents of school age pupils about their fears and experiences and where they believed additional funding should be spent. Image: PA

But alongside funding for textbooks, laboratory equipment and technology, parents also prioritised spending on mental health services and support for children with special needs.

“It’s interesting to see parents are embracing a wide set of priorities beyond academic attainment, calling for more investment in learning resources, child mental health and SEN services - particularly among those eligible for free school meals - and for improving buildings and maintenance,” said John Jolly, chief executive of Parentkind.

“These are critical to a positive learning environment without which we are failing our children.”

Survey

More than three-quarters of parents felt the cost of sending a child to school was rising, with uniforms, trips, and school meals all highlighted as areas of concern. Image: PA

More than three-quarters of parents felt the cost of sending a child to school was rising, with uniforms, trips, and school meals all highlighted as areas of concern. Image: PA

The Parentkind survey, polling 1,500 parents, suggested that many families are being asked to support schools financially.

Nearly a third of parents had given a cash donation to a school fund in the past year, it revealed, with many gifting over £10 a month. One in 10 parents also admitted they had been asked to help with school maintenance, such as redecorating classrooms and cutting grass and hedgerows.

More than three-quarters of parents felt the cost of sending a child to school was rising, with uniforms, trips, and school meals all highlighted as areas of concern.

Earlier this month, ministers announced plans to inject an extra £7.1bn into schools in England. Under the pledge, one in five primary schools in Yorkshire and a third of secondaries will see per-pupil funding rise.

Schools that have been underfunded will get the biggest increases, ministers said, after years of lobbying by teachers and school leaders.

The extra funding will mean that all secondary schools in England will level-up to at least £5,000 per pupil next year, a spokesman for the Department of Education said, and primary schools will get at least £4,000 per pupil by 2021/22.

Priorities

The Parentkind survey, carried out ahead of the funding announcement, questioned how any additional investment should be spent. More than half prioritised spending on learning resources such as textbooks and science equipment, with 43 per cent highlighting the need for greater spend on IT.

But in addition to this, 39 per cent said extra funding should be in invested in child mental health services, with a third wanting to see more support for those with special educational needs and disabilities.

Just over a third thought money should go on the maintenance of school buildings, and the same number wanted extra funding for school trips.

It comes as a new approach to offering mental health support is launched in parts of Yorkshire.

The NHS funded Leeds Recovery College, opening in October, is to offer courses, workshops and training aimed at supporting those struggling with mental and physical ill health.

The goal is to use education as a route to recovery, rather than medication or therapy.

Organisers say the hope is that it will ease waiting lists and offer a recovery route, with a focus on education around living well.