Opportunity area cash pays for mental health training for 1,200 school staff

Lucy Frazer visits Nigel Clayton, farm manager at Henry D’Abo Farming.

Lucy Frazer visits Nigel Clayton, farm manager at Henry D’Abo Farming. Topics discussed included the impact of the pandemic and protecting British farmers in future trade deals. - Credit: LUCY FRAZER'S OFFICE

It’s been a tough time for all those students who did online schooling over the last year. 

Children have missed out on being with their school friends. 

They also haven’t had that personal interactive support that comes from being in a classroom – where a teacher can see that a particular child is struggling. 

And for those who find it difficult to concentrate at the best of times, or who aren’t that interested in learning and who found it easier not to log on at all, getting back into the groove of school will have been tough.

So, the announcement last month of an extension of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area is such great news.

The additional £1,158,500 of funding has been granted by the Department for Education to our area to August 2022. 

And I am particularly pleased that the opportunity area has been focussing some of its opportunity area funding on mental health support.

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We know that lockdown has affected people in different ways and there will undoubtedly have been an impact on the mental health of some children.

So as we come out of lockdown that additional funding will be vital. 

We are lucky to be one of only twelve areas in the country to benefit from that funding.

Over the last few years, I have been pleased to hear from schools across the district of the benefits that the funding has brought.

Last month I visited Robert Arkenstall Primary School, in Haddenham.

I saw first hand the real difference this funding has and will continue to have over the next several months.

Kate Bonney, the school's headteacher told me how the funding supports good mental wellbeing of students and provides extra training for staff. 

Across our area, opportunity area funding has helped to fund mental health training for 1,200 school staff.

Over 90 per cent of participants reporting increased confidence in their ability to identify the early signs of mental ill health and offer support to those that need it. 

45 mental health leads have been established, with 1,300 parents and carers accessing support.

Additionally, the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Recruitment Incentives Grant has helped recruit 79 teachers into 19 local schools by providing funding for training, development and resources.

This funding comes on top of the additional funds for schools to deal with the pandemic, including the sums available or the national tutoring scheme.

It is in addition to the measures that the government will implement to ensure that those who have missed out on education are enabled to catch up.

As we open up the country from lockdown we must make sure that children are given the skills and support to continue to reach their potential.

And I am delighted that the government sees this as one of their top priorities.