Merton students in need to be given extra help

Children with emotional or behavioural problems will benefit from extra support and guidance as part of a new early intervention programme to be introduced in schools in the London Borough of Merton.

The Government has announced that Merton Council will take part in one of 25 pathfinder projects being implemented across the country to provide extra help for students at risk of mental health issues.

It will build on the important work already being done in schools and target groups that are known to have high levels of need, such as those from black and minority ethnic groups and children in care.

In the first year, up to 17 schools are expected to take part. To participate, they must already be involved in the SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) programme.

The funding awarded to help set up the project in its first year will be spent on extending the support available to students with high levels of need; training more teachers to help them; and the employment of school based therapists to guide and supervise activity, and work directly with individual children.

There are several problems that this work will focus on. They include anxiety and attachment issues, aggressive or disruptive behaviour, self esteem linked to eating disorders and conflict resolution.

Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Councillor Debbie Shears, said: “Merton Council is pleased to have been chosen to participate in this pilot project for students at risk of, or experiencing, mental health issues. We aim to help children work through their problems before they escalate and lead to anti-social behaviour or being excluded from school.”


Notes to editors:

· The “Pathfinder” pilot project is a Government initiative.
· The project will be carried out in conjunction with the Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust and the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.