Ann Coffey


Stockport Express column July 2017

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21st July 2017

It’s nearly the end of the school term, when children and teachers can take stock of a busy year and look forward to the summer holidays.

I was delighted to be invited back to Stockport Academy in Cheadle Heath to hear about the students’ achievements over the year, which are truly impressive. They put in so much hard work and are a real credit to the excellent teaching and learning at the Academy.

Meeting members of the Academy’s School Council, it was also clear that school is not just about exams. So much work in schools goes into helping young people develop the skills which they need to cope and succeed in today’s complicated and often stressful world.

It seems there are increasing numbers of children and young people in the UK who are experiencing anxiety or may have a diagnosable mental health condition. And they are facing more pressures than ever before – including exam pressure, social media bullying, worries about body image.

When I was researching my reports into child sexual exploitation, some of the best examples of good support for young people came from other young people. We should listen more to young people.

So I was interested to hear that the Academy’s School Council is involved in a project to help support students’ wellbeing; encouraging young people to talk about their worries, thinking about the best way to support one another emotionally, being aware of any mental health issues and understanding what might actually make a difference.

If a young person’s mental health issues can be picked up early, and they get support, then they are more likely to flourish and succeed in whatever they do – including exams.   As parents, we all want our children to be happy first and foremost, and it is good that the education system recognises this.