Westminster Education Forum

Improving mental health provision for children and young people - policy developments, collaboration and the role of schools

Morning, Wednesday, 4th March 2020

The Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street, London SW1X 7DR


This conference will discuss latest thinking on priorities for improving children and young people’s mental health provision in England.

It is bringing together policymakers, clinicians, and representatives of the education system to examine:

  • Next steps for policy and practice; and
  • The implementation so far of key government measures.

The agenda includes keynote contributions from:

  • Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, Associate National Clinical Director, Children and Young People’s Mental Health, NHS England and Improvement; and
  • Kadra Abdinasir, Strategic Lead, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

Further confirmed speakers include: Laura Brothwell, Portway Primary School, Newham; Jane Caro, Mental Health Foundation; Lara Ferguson, Young Person; Dr Julie Greer, Cherbourg Primary School, Hampshire; Dr Patrick Johnston, Place2Be; Rosamund McNeil, National Education Union; Bethan Plant, Sheffield City Council and Dr Tara Porter, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The chairs are: Baroness Parminter and Baroness Massey of Darwen.

It takes place with key government initiatives already planned or in place, including:

  • Commitments to improve children and young people’s mental health as part of the NHS Long Term Plan;
  • Publication of the first State of the Nation report on children’s mental wellbeing, which highlighted trends such as bullying as a key reason for unhappiness;
  • Introduction of new mental health support teams in 48 areas across the country following initial trials last academic year;
  • The Link Programme, which aims to improve collaboration between schools and the NHS in the delivery of services to young people in need of mental health support; and
  • A new compulsory RSHE Curriculum being introduced from September 2020, which aims to prepare children for adult life and help children make informed decisions about their wellbeing from an early age.

Sessions in the agenda include:

  • Policy priorities and where next for children’s mental health provision in England;
  • Introducing the Link Programme - improving collaboration between the NHS and schools;
  • Creating a joined-up approach to children’s mental health provision: identification, collaboration, prevention, and introducing mental health support teams;
  • Mental health services in schools - inspections, links between health and education, and teachers’ mental health:
    • Greater Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools and Colleges programme - a training programme case study;
    • Tackling resource concerns and improving the mental health of teaching staff; and
    • Implementing the new health curriculum.
  • Joint inspections focusing on children’s mental health - key findings so far.

Engagement with policy officials at this conference

Westminster Education Forum conferences typically attract strong interest from policymakers. This seminar will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with officials who have reserved places representing: DfE; DHSC; Cabinet Office; DCMS; Government Legal Department and the NAO.

Keynote Speaker

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan

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

Keynote Speakers

Dr Neil Smith

Head of Analysis, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)

Kadra Abdinasir

Head of Children and Young People at Centre for Mental Health and Strategic Lead for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan

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


Baroness Parminter

Member, House of Lords Food, Poverty, Health and Environment Committee

Baroness Massey of Darwen

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Young People's Health


Dr Julie Greer

Headteacher, Cherbourg Primary School

Jane Caro

Programme Lead, Families, Children and Young People, Mental Health Foundation

Dr Tara Porter

Acting Lead Clinical Psychologist, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Rosamund McNeil

Assistant General Secretary, National Education Union

Dr Patrick Johnston

Director of Learning and Practice, Place2Be

Cait Cooper

Deputy Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing in School Programme, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Bethan Plant

Health Improvement Principal, Public Health, Sheffield City Council

Laura Brothwell

Assistant Headteacher, Portway Primary School

Lara Ferguson

Young Person Advisor