NI's Department of Education overturns decision, allows funding for counselling
After urgent requests from schools, an additional £5m allocated to schools in mid-November to help address staff and pupils' mental health and wellbeing will be allowed to be used for individual counselling for at-risk students, the department announced. Initial NI Education Authority guidance had indicated that the funding -- amounting to between £3,200 and £14,000 per school, depending on number of pupils -- could not be spent on providing counselling for individual students, but must go to initiatives such as speakers, equipment or programmes, that reach at least half the student body and staff. Before Covid, an estimated 800 post-primary students were on waiting lists to receive counselling.
NI's mental health champion called for schools to reconsider and scrap January's transfer test amidst emerging evidence of the harm caused to primary age children's mental health and wellbeing by the pandemic.