“Significant” rise in pupil referrals for support with health and wellbeing issues
The number of East Riding school pupils referred for early support with health and wellbeing issues totalled 30 in May, almost doubling year-on-year according to council figures.
An East Riding Council report stated there had been a “significant” rise in referrals for support with issues including mental health, emotional wellbeing and issues with peers since April.
The report also stated that of the 647 pupils referred for early help since September, 210 were due to anxiety and panic attacks.
Council schools head Deborah Myers told the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee officials were working with schools to address the coronavirus lockdown’s impact on pupils’ mental health.
She added the “greatest challenge” for vulnerable pupils had been going back to working in larger classes after being in smaller groups with more staff contact.
It comes as the committee also heard there were currently 156 East Riding pupils self-isolating due to coronavirus.
The council report submitted to the committee stated that although early support referrals dropped from 395 in 2019 to 292 last year, there had been a “significant” rise since April.
Referrals in May which totalled 30 were up from 18 compared to the same month last year, with normal levels also returning in the 2020 summer term when lockdown restrictions eased.
Anxiety and panic attack related referrals made up almost a third of the 647 referrals received since September.
A total of 51 related to anger management, 45 to emotional wellbeing, 29 to depression, 27 to bereavement and 25 to self harm.
Self esteem related referrals totalled 23, family relationships 19, gender or sexuality 11, sexual abuse and assault 11, peer relationships 10 and trauma seven.
Referrals related to suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and physical illnesses totalled five, four and two respectively.
Separately, Ms Myers said officials were working with schools to ensure pupils isolated for the right amount of time and only children that had related contact with coronavirus were sent home.
She added the amount of children whose parents opted for home educated was 459 as of Thursday, June 11 which was broadly in line with pre-pandemic levels.
The committee heard that of the 311 pupils whose families opted for home education since September, 64 were now back in schools with overall returns numbering 131.
The officer said: “While the coronavirus pandemic continues the council continues to support schools and the most vulnerable.
“We currently have relatively low numbers of pupils self-isolating, previously I’ve reported the numbers to be in the hundreds of thousands.
“We’re offering support to schools who want to keep face coverings for pupils.
“The amount of pupils in elective home education is comparable with those of previous years and is significantly less than levels seen in 2018-19.
“Free school meals were funding during the May half term with government grants.
“We’re currently looking at free school meals for the summer, we’ve had government communications come in on that.”
Committee member Cllr Anne Handley told councillors free school meal families would be able to collect supplies from food banks in a four week window in the summer.
The councillor, who works with the East Riding Food Poverty Alliance, added eligible families could collect two “substantial” bags of food with also include menus with healthy eating options.