Golders Green headteacher: ‘Every school needs a counsellor to stop youth mental health crisis’

A headteacher who is stepping down to work in youth mental health has said that every school should employ a counsellor to mitigate the unprecedented levels of pressure on young people today.

Dawn Moore, 51, is to leave independent King Alfred School in Golders Green in July after 12 years in the role and nearly 30 years after she first started teaching there.

The trained counsellor hopes to work in an advisory role helping schools improve their mental health provision for pupils, something that she believes should be publicly judged by Ofsted inspectors.

Mrs Moore, who sent her two daughters to the school, said: “It feels as if a crisis is brewing. The pressure that young people are under today is much greater than it was years ago.

“There’s been a huge emphasis on the need to succeed in exams, and I think society and the government puts a lot of pressure on students.”

Increasingly unstable family lives, the current examination system, easier access to alcohol and drugs, and social media were all listed by Mrs Moore as reasons for why one in 10 young people suffer from mental health problems.

But what does she suggest can be done to help?

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“Kids have so much to deal with these days,” she said. “I certainly think schools should be inspected on their provision for students in terms of their curriculum content. Children also need more help from a counselling perspective than ever before. I would like to see every school have a counsellor.”

Mrs Moore began her career in teaching with a placement at Highgate Wood School in Crouch End before joining King Alfred, for pupils aged between four and 18, as a science teacher in 1986.

Aside from a short career break to have children in the 1990s, Mrs Moore has stayed at the school ever since, rising through the ranks to become headteacher in 2003.

Her proudest moment comes every summer when the staff say goodbye to the Year 13 pupils before they leave the school for good. “It’s a poignant reminder of what they’ve given to the school and what the school has given them,” Mrs Moore, of Hendon, said.

She added that she will miss the sound of children’s laughter most after she leaves. Mrs Moore will be replaced by Robert Lobatto in September, who is currently headteacher of ‘outstanding’ state secondary Barnhill Community High in Hayes.