Call for permanent school counsellor at Fife academy

Fife Council said the academy had decided not to use PEF for counselling.
Fife Council said the academy had decided not to use PEF for counselling.

A local councillor has called for a counsellor to be based permanently at Levenmouth Academy.

Cllr Colin Davidson believes a counsellor being based at the school, working with children at the academy and at nearby primary schools, would help tackle disruptive behaviour.

He said: “The government has indicated there’s a lack of mental health provision for pupils in schools.

“Teachers are ill equipped to deal with it and some of these kids have complex needs which manifest as extreme levels of behaviour and disruption.

“A counsellor at the academy and other schools would lead to a drop in issues.”

Mr Davidson added that the growth of social media had had an impact and that children who are being bullied at school, “can’t get away from it”.

He said: “I want schools at look at Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) and see if it can be employed to hire a counsellor to work with the kids,” he said.

“Levenmouth Academy and local primaries could share the cost of a counsellor.

“I’m talking about a dedicated, five days a week counsellor.”

Head of education Shelagh McLean explained how Fife Council was working to support the wellbeing of young people, saying: “We’ve increased investment supporting emotional wellbeing in schools from £90,000 each year to £270,000 this session, demonstrating our real commitment to this vital provision.

“This is complimented by additional investment from NHS Fife.

“Our schools, including Levenmouth Academy, have access to a wide range of specialist support as counselling is not a service that suits every young person’s emotional wellbeing needs. Often they prefer to speak with people around them who know them and our teachers and staff members are trained and supported to carry out this role.

“We also work closely with the Scottish Association of Mental Health who are rolling out mental health information sessions across primary schools and communities in Fife.”

Ms McLean also said PEF funding was available to schools to help them improve the educational outcomes of children affected by poverty.

She said: “Levenmouth Academy has taken the decision not to invest this specific additional funding in counselling this year, and is considering what is the most appropriate use for the funding they will receive in 2018/19.”