Schools must link up with youth services to improve student wellbeing, MPs said
Secondary schools are “missing an opportunity” to partner with local youth services to provide after-school activities and improve pupil wellbeing, MPs have been told.
Youth and volunteer facilities should be used to provide clubs and activities without increasing teachers’ workloads, Moussin Ismail, director of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Center in London, told the education select committee.
AT a trial session look children’s mental health and welfare, Speaker Robert Halfon asked attendees about government and think tank suggestions that extending the school day could help children recover from the pandemic.
“Some statistics suggest that if you have more enrichment activities it not only improves wellbeing but also education,” said Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow.
Ismail added that “most school leaders would like to do this, but the eternal issue will always be funding and who is going to pay for it”.
“I remember a time when I was in school where there were lots of clubs in the local community who could send volunteers to run sessions.
“I think there is a missed opportunity in secondary schools to use youth centers and volunteers. Using some sports facilities and sports coaching provided by youth centers on extended days would take away some of the burden that schools face in terms of workload and finances,” he said. added.
Catherine Roche, chief executive of children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said it was “tremendously important” to increase access to after-school activities for all pupils.
“The challenge is how to make it work financially for school staff. I think it’s probably down to what’s available within the local community,” she added.
Echoing the points made by Ismail and Roche, Lord Richard Layard, an economist who was also commissioner of the Legatum Institute’s Welfare and Policy Commission, told the committee that the combination of staff expertise school and youth services is “where the power is”. in terms of improving student well-being.
“I like the idea of having volunteers who come to offer activities. If you can bring people in, I don’t want to add to the burden on teachers, so if you can combine the two, that’s where the power is,” he said.
The evidence session took place during Children’s Mental Health Week 2022, which runs from February 7-11.