School staff acting as counsellors due to cost-of-living crisis





A new report by NFER has revealed the increased pressures on pupils and their families because of the cost-of-living crisis. The ‘Cost-of-living crisis: Impact on schools - pupils and families’ report by the research foundation showed that over 90% of primary, secondary and special schools are subsidising extra-curricular activities for pupils. 70% of schools are providing food to pupils through food parcels, food banks, food vouchers and subsided breakfasts. The majority of senior leaders (over 84% across all settings) report that cost-of-living pressures have increased both the numbers of pupils requiring additional support and the level of need, particularly in the most disadvantaged schools. According to senior leaders, the crisis is also exacerbating wellbeing and mental health needs among pupils. Over 25% of pupils in mainstream schools needed extra support for mental health and wellbeing this year, a significant increase from 2022. This is even higher in special schools at over 40%. Teachers feel unable to access the support they need from external agencies such as Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS, formerly known as CAMHS) and schools are having to step in to fill gaps in support. In the study, conducted in collaboration with ASK Research and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, NFER recently asked more than 2,500 senior leaders and teachers in mainstream schools, and more than 100 in special schools, a series of questions to understand the impacts of cost-of-living pressures on schools in England. Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The government must provide more support for families beyond the school gates, with better funding for social care and mental health services, targeted support like extending free school meals to all children in households receiving universal credit, and a real drive to tackle the root causes of child poverty.”