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"Prioritise inclusive education" say charity leaders and educators in joint open letter

The next government has a chance to ensure children can truly flourish at school and in life, but it must commit to bold action from the start.

As a group of educators and charity leaders, we are asking all political parties to prioritise our children’s futures and address the school absence crisis by committing to an inclusive, relational approach to education that supports children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Pupils and teachers deserve better support. School attendance is lower than ever, exclusions are high, and children are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing like never before - with a devastating impact on learning.

The growing teacher recruitment and retention crisis is leaving many pupils without the consistent teaching and relationships they so desperately need. And the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their wealthier peers is at its highest point on record.

The status quo is simply no longer working for children, families or teachers, and for our society, it’s time to do things differently.

We know that happy children learn better. In order to turn things around, the incoming government needs to put support for children’s social, emotional and mental health firmly at the top of the agenda – recognising its vital role in developing essential life skills and achieving improved school attendance and academic success.

We must create inclusive school environments where children and young people feel genuinely safe, supported and able to learn – teachers need the right tools and support to do this.

We believe:

● The SEMH needs of all pupils should be identified and addressed.

● The Department for Education should develop a fully resourced, national implementation programme to support every school, college and university to adopt a whole-school relational approach to mental health and wellbeing.

● Further research and evaluation should be commissioned to expand and deepen our knowledge of the impact nurturing, relational approaches make on pupil wellbeing, behaviour, attendance, exclusions and educational outcomes.

We want teachers to be properly supported to introduce approaches that will address the challenges preventing young people from participating in school. And a national commitment to creating inclusive, nurturing school communities.

As educators, we ask you to talk to us about what works, and help us to implement the right tools and approaches to support children’s social, emotional and mental health needs.

As charities, we ask all political parties to meet with us and draw on our knowledge to truly understand how we can support children to be happy in school and remove barriers to attendance and learning.

And as parents, we urge you to listen and act on our experiences so that every child is able to learn. You can find out more here about

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