The first Centre of Excellence dedicated to strengthening mental health in schools across the whole of the UK has been established in partnership between Minds Ahead and Leeds Beckett University.
The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools was created in 2017 to strengthen the mental health of the next generation by supporting schools in making positive changes at all levels of the UK’s education system, improving outcomes and life chances of children across the country.
Professor Damien Page
Professor Damien Page, Dean of the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, explained: “Through the Centre, we are creating a network of practitioners – educators, mental health service providers and researchers – to define and share best practice and to support schools across the UK to implement this.
“As one of the country’s best performing providers of teacher education, we’re committed to working with schools to improve outcomes for children. But focusing on improving classroom practice is not enough; we need to address the mental health of children first and train our students to look after children in the widest sense. The new Centre will give them the best possible grounding whilst boosting the skills of existing teachers and showing senior leaders how to take on a whole school approach to tackling mental health.”
The initiative is a partnership between Minds Ahead and the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett. At its core is a collaborative approach, which brings together existing expertise from a range of sectors, working together to make real changes and to lead innovation across the country in response to the needs of schools, pupils, parents and carers.
Dean Johnstone, CEO of Minds Ahead, said: “ Minds Ahead and Leeds Beckett are the first organisations in the UK to be establishing a centre for mental health in schools. There is one in the US and one in Canada, so it was only right that school colleagues and children in the UK deserve such a resource too. Minds Ahead is committed to finding innovative solutions so that mental health difficulties don’t limit success at school and beyond. Starting this Centre with Leeds Beckett University is a key part of this plan.”
Professor Page added: “This Centre will lead the way in addressing what has rightly been described as a ‘social injustice’. With the mental health expertise of Minds Ahead and the educational expertise of Leeds Beckett, we’ll make a real impact in improving the life chances of children in our schools.”
Key to the Centre’s offering will be the opportunity to apply for the School Mental Health Quality Mark. Through existing research collaborations, the Centre has devised an accreditation process against which schools can be evaluated and assessed, allowing them to evidence the effectiveness and impact of their mental health strategies and outcomes and their whole school approach to mental health.
The Centre also offers: professional development courses for everyone working in schools; a professional community to harness experience across schools; support and guidance to help schools develop and improve mental health policies and practice; world-leading research to back up projects with evidence; and partnerships with like-minded organisations, such as Minds Ahead, to add support to schools.