The Senedd Children, Young People and Education Committee has published a report on the steps needed now and in the future to support children and young people, ahead of the Senedd elections in May. The report recommends that the next Welsh Government and the successor Committee after the election maintain a close focus on children’s wellbeing and education in recovery planning after the pandemic. It also calls for more positive messaging about children and young people’s resilience and their opportunities going forward, as well as replacing the “unhelpful narrative and language about “lost learning” and need for “catch-up”” as a priority. The report calls for contingencies to prepare for any further disruption from Covid-19, and adopting a children’s rights approach to all decisions across all sectors as a priority, with emphasis on hearing children’s voices.
The report calls for particular attention to be given to support for vulnerable and disadvantaged learners – including children eligible for free school meals, those from low income households, those with Additional Learning Needs, young carers, children in care, and learners in Pupil Referral Units – underpinned by data on their experiences. The report also recommends a focus on a whole-system and whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
To support children’s mental and physical health, the report calls for increased opportunities for physical activity, work to address recruitment and retention issues in the child (physical and mental) health workforce, and ensuring that the Welsh Government and Health Education and Improvement Wales look strategically and creatively at how this workforce is used and the skillsets needed. It also says there must be recognition of the link between poverty and mental ill health, and urgent action to address the impacts of the pandemic on children and young people’s mental wellbeing. It recommends that the importance of seeking timely mental health advice be communicated, that the digital divide is addressed to ensure equitable access to telehealth services, and a more robust approach to identify and support children and young people in crisis.
You can read the full report here.