A new 12-strong team at Highgate primary has reduced exclusions and referrals to mental health services to zero, for just £8,500 a year

Statistics show that one in 10 children – or an average of three children in every classroom – has a diagnosable mental health problem, and 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health issues have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early stage.

It is against this backdrop – and the school funding crisis – that Highgate primary school has transformed the usual pastoral care function with an innovative new grassroots model that has achieved incredible results and made it the winner in the health and wellbeing category of the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards.

Related: How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".