WALES’s Minister for Education, Jeremy Miles, has announced that funding for mental health and well-being support for school staff will be trebled in the next financial year.
The spending on support for school staff will increase from £350,000 in 2021-22 to £1.25 million in 2022-23. The Welsh Government plans to increase this funding year-on-year to over £3 million by 2024-25.
The increased funding is part of the Welsh Government’s ‘whole School approach’, with total funding for schools, for pupils and staff, increasing to £12.2 million in the next financial year. The funding will be more than double the level compared to the start of the pandemic, from £5 million in 2020-21.
The Welsh Government’s whole-school approach aims to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of learners and staff in schools.
The funding will aim to tackle waiting lists, increase support for younger children and provide more training for support staff in schools, including on the impact of Covid19.
New funding will also be targeted towards well-being support for learners in Pupil Referral Units, with £1.45 million announced over the next three years.
Jeremy Miles said: “Covid-19 has presented new challenges for schools and learners, as we all adjusted to changes to the way we live our lives. The pandemic has emphasised the need for us to build resilience, by strengthening and widening the support net for learners and staff.
“As well as continuing to provide support for children and young people, the next phase of funding aims to boost support for school staff in particular, by trebling the support next year.
“We have invested in increasing support during the pandemic, but I am clear that this is not a one-off, short-term measure – I want to build up the support year-on-year, to make it easier for staff and learners to access the support they need, when they need it.”
The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, said: “The last two years have had a tremendous impact on everyone in Wales, including teachers and other school staff.
“It is vital to recognise that by supporting their emotional and mental wellbeing, we can help our young people reach their full potential. This is why we convened the Joint Ministerial Task and Finish Group on a whole-system approach to wellbeing in 2018 and why it will continue to drive delivery and improve provision in this area.
“It is fantastic we have been able to treble investment in emotional, mental health and well-being support to help everyone in the education system.
“This funding will ensure more people can access the support they need, reducing the number of those feeling overwhelmed or unsure of where they can seek help and advice.”
David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Education Union Cymru, said: “Pressure on the education workforce has never been higher, with Covid-19 still having an impact in our schools.
“In an NEU Cymru survey last year, 80 per cent of respondents said that work had an impact on their mental health, with 60 per cent saying work had made their mental health worse since the pandemic.
“Our members tell us there is a significant lack of support measures in place for workers experiencing poor mental health. Workload is the single most important factor in terms of pressure.
“Alongside tackling workload, this extra money should mean that schools are able to identify and support staff with their wellbeing.
“We’re asking schools and local authorities to work with union representatives and use this opportunity to audit the wellbeing of the education workforce in every workplace. This money should help them make sure the findings of such an audit can be acted upon, and make a difference to staff.
“NEU has our own mental health charter which we are asking every workplace in Wales to adopt and puts the wellbeing of staff at the heart of the school.”