Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Priorities for children’s mental health - the pandemic, support in schools, holistic and intersectional approaches, and CAMHS recovery

Morning, Wednesday, 2nd December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining priorities for improving children and young people’s mental health services and the role of schools in England - particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

The discussion is bringing stakeholders together with staff from the House of Commons and key policy officials who are due to attend from DHSC; DfE; Ofsted; DCMS; the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health); the NAO; and the Youth Justice Board.

The agenda:

  • Assessing today’s child mental health provision in England
  • Tackling the challenges for child mental health support in the wake of COVID-19
  • Serving the mental health needs of groups facing specific issues - fostering an intersectional and holistic approach to provision of support
    • Providing effective support for children with experiences of domestic abuse
    • Children from Black & Asian communities and their journey to positive mental health
    • Supporting the mental health needs of children with SEND
    • Adapting modular approaches to meet complex mental health needs
  • Securing the recovery of children’s services post-pandemic
  • Next steps for child mental health services - resources and rising demand, support in schools, and fostering a joined-up approach to provision
  • Supporting child mental health - key policy priorities going forward

Key areas for discussion:

  • lockdown - the impact on child mental health, and what can be learned and applied for services and best practice going forward:
    • maintaining contact - how well the system fared with staying in touch with vulnerable children remotely, and the role of mental health technology and online services into the future
    • effectiveness of support - how well government initiatives helped mitigate worsening mental health in vulnerable children and young people, and priorities for future provision
    • ensuring that vulnerable children do not fall through the cracks - and are able to access mental health support to cope with ongoing pressures
  • education:
    • the role of the education system - providing mental health support for children, including the stable routine and social interaction with peers provided by school attendance
    • Wellbeing for Education Return - the £8m launch of a training programme by the DfE to support staff working in schools and colleges to respond to additional pressures that children may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic; Dr Julie Greer, Member of the Expert Advisory Group for the programme, will be speaking
    • Relationships and Sex Education - the likely impact of the new curriculum on young people’s mental wellbeing, and what can be learnt from the schools that have already began teaching
  • mental health services recovery:
    • coping with likely rise in demand - addressing the capacity of mental health support services to respond to the easing of lockdown restrictions
    • new lockdowns - how stakeholders and policymakers can work to ensure that, children’s mental health needs are taken into account, particularly at short notice and a local level
  •  funding, coordination and meeting policy commitments:
    • funding - resourcing children’s services and child mental health support services, with the predicted economic downturn resulting from the pandemic, and priorities for the Spending Review
    • joined-up policy - including strategies for a coordinated, multi-agency approach between schools, the NHS, and charities to tackle mental health concerns
    • health policy implementation - next steps for meeting commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan
  • groups facing specific issues:
    • improving the system - how a more holistic and intersectional approach to the provision of mental health support can be better built into practice going forward
    • priorities - looking in particular at support for children with:
      • experience of domestic abuse - following a spike in cases of domestic abuse during the lockdown as well as recent increases
      • ethnic minority backgrounds - including increased support at a time of the disproportionate health and economic effects of the pandemic on ethnic minority communities
      • SEND - in the face of worsening anxiety during the pandemic and loss of daily routine, and with emergency legislation affecting access of some children their EHC plan support

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and officials from the Department of Health and Social Care; the Department for Education; Ofsted; DCMS; the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health); the National Audit Office and the Youth Justice Board.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior officials from the DHSC, MHCLG, DfE, Ofsted and other government departments and agencies, health service and social care representatives including specialists in children and young people’s mental health, charities and advocacy groups, emergency services, schools and teaching professionals, representatives of trade unions and local government, groups representing parents and students, academics and commentators, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan

Associate National Clinical Director, Children and Young People’s Mental Health, NHS England

Keynote Speakers

Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan

Associate National Clinical Director, Children and Young People’s Mental Health, NHS England

Wendy Ghaffar HMI

Specialist Adviser, Cross Remit Safeguarding, Social Policy, Ofsted


James Sunderland MP

Baroness Doreen E Massey of Darwen


Dr Julie Greer

Headteacher, Cherbourg Primary School, Hampshire and Member, Expert Advisory Group, Wellbeing for Education Return

Sally Amor

Child Health Commissioner, NHS Highland

Nick Harrop

Head of External Affairs, YoungMinds

Sally Thomas

Policy Specialist, Gender Equality and Child Mental Health, National Education Union

Gavin Freeguard

Programme Director, Head of Data and Transparency, Institute for Government

Alun Ebenezer

Headteacher, The Fulham Boys School

Sarah Dove

Director, Phoenix Education Consultancy, and Founder, The Reintroduction Hub

Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent

Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Special Projects, Coram

Dr Jasmine Chin

Clinical Lead, Coram

Brian Walton

Headteacher, Brookside Academy, Somerset

Dr Bernadka Dubicka

Chair, Child and Adolescent Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Catherine Roche

Chief Executive Officer, Place2Be

Dr Arnon Bentovim

Child and Family Psychiatrist and Director, Child and Family Training

Professor Barry Carpenter

Professor of Mental Health in Education, Oxford Brookes University