Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week: How counselling helps some pupils get the most from tutoring - 3rd February 2021 Concerns about relationships with family and friends present challenges to the young people involved in our Right Angle project. The project, aimed at pupils who are either not in mainstream schooling or are Cared for Children, offers tuition support from our qualified tutors plus counselling sessions from our partner charity TLC (Talk, Listen, Change). Offering counselling helps these pupils address any challenges they face, enabling them to gain more from their tuition sessions. A report into the success of the pilot project revealed that, in counselling, pupils identified a number of issues that were troubling them, with the most frequently mentioned being relationships with their parents and friends. The pupils also mentioned emotional wellbeing – concerns around stress, anger or frustration, self-care and feelings of shame or guilt – almost as regularly in counselling sessions. Jo Meredith, the Tutor Trust’s Director of Alternative Provision, said that the findings reflected a lot of the challenges faced by many young people. And, in Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a reminder that it was important to offer mental health support to young people too. “Our pupils in these settings are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Many are already facing multiple challenges, so to be able to offer them counselling, alongside tuition, has made a real difference in supporting them to achieve their potential – for example those accessing both counselling and tuition were twice as likely to improve their GCSE grade. “Our tutors already have mental health awareness training as part of their induction, so all our tutors, whether they work in Alternative Provision or mainstream school settings, know how to support their pupils to achieve their best. “For the tutor to be able to create a trusted relationship with the pupils really supports their learning, and the benefits of offering counselling as part of the support package has been invaluable. “Giving the pupils the opportunity to be able to discuss issues that are worrying them, in a safe environment, really makes a difference to their self-esteem and confidence.” Other areas of concern raised by the young people included identity and issues around confidence and self-esteem, mental health issues including anxiety, low mood and trauma as well as issues within the school, including fighting and being excluded. Worries around changes in life (including being in care or fear of going into care, moving schools and worries about a new foster placement), the future, feeling uncertain about counselling and issues related to COVID-19, including worries about their family, were areas mentioned least frequently. The need for The Right Angle project continues to grow. This is particularly pertinent in the current climate where we know that the most vulnerable children and young people are struggling as we traverse through a global pandemic. We currently have a waiting list for the support provided by The Right Angle intervention and schools, virtual schools and partners are making enquiries about becoming involved. We are working hard to secure additional funding to ensure that we reach as many pupils as possible.