Q: Our school would like to employ a school counsellor but can't afford a full-time member of staff. What are the alternatives for us?

Published: Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A. Rising concerns about the mental health of children and young people in our schools, coupled with the difficulties in getting support from children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), has led the DfE to recommend strongly that schools invest in a counsellor. This is beyond the budget of the majority of smaller schools and some bigger ones.

However, the DfE's document Counselling in schools: A blueprint for the future provides some alternative models that schools might use in order to make it feasible to have a counsellor. One of the preferred models is primary schools is sharing a counsellor with a secondary school. This is particularly beneficial as secondary schools and their feeder primary schools are likely to share the same families.

Other models suggested by the DfE include:

  • contracting an individual
  • counsellor directly
  • engaging with an LA team of counsellors
  • contracting with a third party
  • paying for specialist children's mental health services.

 You will need to work closely with your senior leadership team to look at which of these options is likely to be the most cost effective and beneficial for you. When making your decision you should also take into account that a school counsellor needs clinical line management as well as being managed by an individual within the school. For this reason many schools have preferred to commission the services of experienced providers who will make sure that the development and supervision needs of counsellors are met.

The DfE points out that if a school feels that counselling will have a positive impact on pupils' attainment, in particular for disadvantaged pupils, they may want to consider using pupil premium funding.

Further information

Counselling in schools: A blueprint for the future: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools


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