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Children &

Young People

What is the current situation for children and young people?

The current Coronavirus pandemic has an ongoing, widespread and significant impact on the mental health and emotional well-being of children and young people.  Unicef UK’s report ‘Children in lockdown: What coronavirus means for UK children’ gives a snapshot of some of the ways children have been affected.


In 2019 in England, over one third of pupils did not achieve the expected standard at the end of primary school. For disadvantaged pupils, this proportion was almost one half. 


Children need social and emotional confidence to function well in school. They need to have friends, be able to trust adults, and be brave enough to take the risks required to learn. Emotional worries can result in low self-esteem, poor attentiveness and disruptive behaviour. Children are often anxious, worried or frightened about their situation at home.

Children's voices

What would most improve children’s lives?


Most common answer: “If all children could talk to someone at their school if they feel worried or stressed to help them look after their mental health.”


Children's top two worries are


•"Feeling stressed and/or sad"


•"Being/feeling pressured to do well at school”

Source: From a survey of 1,924 children aged 6-17y in England held at the end of 2019. Children's Commissioner Childhood in 2020 Business plan consultation with children 2020-2021, pages 5 & 7

Lucy, an 18-year-old young person with SEND and mental health issues, said waiting longer for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) can cause more anxiety than having the diagnosis of anxiety. 


Disadvantaged pupils are defined as those who are registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, children looked after by a local authority or those who have left local authority care in England and Wales through adoption, a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangement order.


Disadvantaged pupils do not do as well academically as their peers.


In 2019, 31% of pupils at the end of Key Stage 2 were classed as disadvantaged.

Across a typical class of 30, six children are growing up at risk due to family circumstances, including four children living in a household where domestic violence, substance misuse and/or severe mental health problems are present.


Across a typical class of 30, four children have an identified special educational need (SEN) but only one of them will have a SEN statement or Education Health Care Plan.

Difficulties in getting help

In 2019/2020, there was a 35% increase in referrals to children’s mental health services and a 4% increase in the number of children receiving support from the NHS.


“One of the major problems children report to the Children’s Commissioner is being ‘turned away’ from mental health services without getting treatment.”


‘Around half of all people who have a mental health problem at some point in their life will experience the first symptoms before they are 14 years old.’

Image by Michael Mims

The Children’s Commissioner for England speaks up for children and young people so that policymakers take their views and interests into account when making decisions about them.

Read more evidence from the Children’s Commissioner




Educational Psychotherapists help pupils to learn, achieve and develop character and resilience.  We work with children to remove emotional barriers to learning. This may be one-to-one or in groups. 

Read more evidence on how Educational Psychotherapy can help

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