Launch of ’transformative’ children’s mental health programme at University of Glasgow

Jenny Gilruth, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, praised the University of Glasgow for its "transformative and pivotal" programme that’s empowering student teachers with the skills and resilience to create mentally healthy classrooms.

Ms Gilruth was speaking at the launch of the University’s partnership programme with children’s mental health charity Place2Be, which took place on 7 February as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.

The Place2Be ITE (Initial Teacher Education) programme aims to equip student teachers with the resilience, knowledge and skills to holistically support children’s mental health in the classroom. The UK-wide programme, which is also partnered with the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling, is now available to students at the University of Glasgow’s School of Education.

Jenny Gilruth, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said: "It is crucial that the next generation of teachers are equipped to support the mental wellbeing of young people in the classroom - especially now in the context of the unprecedented challenges from the pandemic and cost of living crisis, both of which have had a significant impact on their mental health.

"It is encouraging to see the Place2Be programme expand into the University of Glasgow, which is a positive move towards further developing teachers’ skills and understanding of mental health issues."

During the five-year partnership, a full-time Place2Be clinician, Froydis Engsvik, will be embedded at the School of Education, where she will work across Initial Teacher Education (ITE) to help improve learning on mental health in a school community context, and to empower student teachers to contribute to mentally healthy schools.

Speaking to the packed audience of students, academics and policy makers, Froydis Engsvik said: "’If a child is not emotionally stable they simply can’t access learning...I have seen the impact this support has for teachers."

Si Yates, Place2Be’s Director of Operations, said: "We’re absolutely delighted that we’ll now be able to reach more student teachers through our new partnership with the University of Glasgow (ITE) - now reaching over a third of all new ITE students in Scotland.

"We know from over 20 years of working in Scotland’s schools that you need to hold the hands of the adults who are holding the hands of the child if you want to make a real difference. You need to intervene early not only in children’s lives but in teachers’ careers - that’s why we developed our Place2Think reflective practice service and why we’ve worked successfully with Moray House student teachers for five years."

Professor Kristinn Hermannsson, Head of the School of Education at the University of Glasgow, said: "We are very proud to partner with Place2Be to provide this much-needed mental health resource for our student teachers. The benefits of mental health and wellbeing support in school communities are clear to see, and we want to equip future generations of Scotland’s teachers with all the tools they need to help create mentally healthy classrooms across the country."

ITE students Lewis McIntyre and Michael Third shared their experiences of the Place2Be programme, which they credit for helping them during a challenging time with their mental health. "My advice would be to anyone struggling as a student teacher - reach out to Place2Be, it can only make things better" commented Michael.

The partnership builds on Place2Be’s successful partnership with Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh which is shown to have had a positive impact on the wellbeing and reflective capacity of their student teachers, alongside their knowledge and confidence in supporting children’s mental health in the classroom.

With the programme extending to the University of Glasgow, over a third of all new ITE students in Scotland will benefit from this mental health and resilience focussed resource.