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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

3 February 2021 weekly update

3 February 2021

This week, Matt introduces Children's Mental Health Week and provides clarification on the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

Dear Colleagues

Monday 1 February was the start of Children’s Mental Health Week and now, more than ever, the focus on emotional and mental health is seen as a priority for all age groups, across the country and within your school communities.

It is quite clear that the impact of Covid has turned children’s lives upside down with disruption to their education, limited access to families, friends and not being able to simply play and engage with activities to enrich their lives. Many studies have confirmed that during this pandemic children have been stressed, anxious and unhappy and that a staggering one in six now have a probable mental health condition, a rise of 50% when compared to previous surveys.

We need to move fast to develop a response to this mental health crisis, there needs to be a focused and ambitious recovery for all children to regain their lost education, to build resilience to the challenges now and in the weeks and months ahead. I am pleased to say that my management team and I are at an initial stage of developing a recovery programme will tap into and support resources for Kent schools, County wide. I will write further about this as soon as possible.

Earlier today, an email was sent to you and provided clarification from Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about the vaccine programme after the link to NHS Covid-19 vaccination booking services was wrongly shared to schools in Kent. Unfortunately a number of bookings by school staff (who are not in the priority groups) were preventing more vulnerable people at risk of serious ill health from being vaccinated. School staff, (outside of the priority groups) who have made bookings will be cancelled and will turned away from vaccination centres.

I am pleased that Kent and Medway CCG have confirmed that teachers at special schools who work directly with children with complex health needs have been defined as frontline carers and as such are eligible for vaccination. Special schools will receive a letter confirming the booking process for these frontline care staff this week.

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education