A leading mental health charity in Scotland has said they are 'delighted' Education Secretary John Swinney acknowledged the impact of social distancing on pupil's mental health in his school statement.

Scottish schools had been preparing to return with a "blended" model of face-to-face teaching and at-home learning.

In a move branded a 'u-turn' by opposition parties, Mr Swinney announced Scottish schools are now aiming to reopen full-time with no physical distancing in August if coronavirus continues to be suppressed.

He had previously targeted having pupils spend at least half their time physically in the classroom, leading to concerns from parents.

But the education secretary said: "When we prepared our plans back in May I frankly would not have imagined we would have made as much progress in virus suppression as we have.

"It is this more positive outlook that allows the Scottish government to make this change in planning for schools."

Toni Giugliano, Senior Policy Manager at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: “We’re pleased that the Scottish Government has acknowledged that children are concerned about their mental health and we’re delighted John Swinney has listened to the concerns of parents, teachers and pupils across Scotland.

"Keeping children apart through social distancing in schools after many months of limited contact could have exacerbated mental health problems in children and young people, and the proposal for children to return to school full time with no social distancing measures has been welcomed.

“However, we still need more clarity on a number of issues – we need a commitment to expand the range of mental health support workers in schools to cope with the likely increase in demand for support when term resumes.

"And we need a commitment that schools will dedicate more timetabled hours on health and wellbeing to help children process what has happened and ease their way back to normality."

Dr. Punam Krishan, a GP in Glasgow's East End, told The Glasgow Times: "I welcome the comments and agree whole heartedly with what’s been said so far.

"I believe there still needs to be infection control measures implemented in the schools ahead of children going back.

"I am worried about the mental health of children right now as they have had a prolonged period of time away from their social groups at school.

"The mental health services available for children and adolescents was already stretched prior to the pandemic and efforts need to be made to support the mental health service to manage the deluge of cases that will present moving forward.

"I would like systems to be put in place to be able to recognise signs of deteriorating mental health in children so that early intervention can take place."