TEACHERS will argue the case today for schools to provide dedicated counsellors as increasing numbers of children — some as young as six — are self-harming or attempting suicide.
An ATL survey found that 18 primary schools had reported children attempting suicide.
And one in five teachers reported pupils had attempted suicide because of pressures at school ramped up by the Tory government’s grades-driven education policies.
Almost half of teachers were aware of pupils self-harming due to stress or suffering from eating disorders.
Manchester primary-school learning mentor Samantha Barlow said that “children as young as six years old” are affected by anxiety about exams and the pressure to get good grades.
A support staffer, who did not wish to be named, at a secondary academy in London said: “I have seen a huge increase in physical symptoms of stress and incidents of self-harm, and suicidal thoughts have escalated beyond control.”
Another unnamed teacher at a special-needs primary school in Warwickshire said it was “heartbreaking” that some schools are now having to employ full-time counsellors.
Almost 90 per cent of teachers surveyed said that testing and exams are the greatest source of pupil stress.
Mental-health support offered by schools varies considerably, however, with more than one in 10 having no strategy in place to identify problems.
ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “It is horrifying that young people feel under so much pressure that many are self-harming or contemplating suicide.”
She blamed the government’s “test-focused, overcrowded” curriculum that is piling stress on young pupils.
The union is calling for all pupils to have access to an appropriately trained dedicated counsellor, with more promotion of mental-health awareness in schools.