Deeside AM praise for Shotton Primary school in Senedd debate on emotional support for pupils in Wales
Last week’s short debate in the Welsh Assembly was led by Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) on emotional and social support for school pupils.
Jayne Bryant said children now have more information available to them than at any point in history, but often face far greater challenges in terms of social and emotional development. 47% of people in Wales have had at least one “adverse childhood experience” before the age of 18 which can carry emotional or social development baggage through into adulthood.
The Children & Young People Committee published a report in 2018 which:
“….sets challenges to Welsh Government. ‘Mind over Matter’ found broad consensus that school settings are key to promoting emotional well-being and good mental health, that the preventative approach needs to be embedded within the ethos of a school, not just the lessons taught, and that teachers are not solely responsible, but it requires joint working between professionals from across sectors—health, education, social care, third sector and youth work are key.”
– Jayne Bryant AM
Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) cited work at Ysgol Ty Fynnon in Shotton, He said:
“I’d like to put on record a school in my constituency as well, Ysgol Tŷ Ffynnon, which has taken on this approach and actually, earlier this year, became the first school in Wales to complete the national nurturing schools programme—a two-year programme, which I fully endorse to other schools to take part in around Wales.”
“As part of this, the whole school has embraced the six principles of nurture, and the nurture group sessions”... to “allow their pupils to take part in activities that develop self-awareness, build self-esteem, perseverance and positive thinking.”
“But that also helps the teachers and the families as well; it’s all about looking after each other, being kind to each other and giving each other respect throughout the day.
So, I’m very proud of the school in my constituency, Ysgol Tŷ Ffynnon, and I know they’re honoured to be the first school known in Wales as a nurture school, but not just that, a nurture school for the whole community, as well.”
Replying on behalf of the government, Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), said that while she didn’t expect schools to become experts in psychology or psychiatry, they still need to be able to recognise when children are struggling emotionally or in any other part of their development.
“Our national mission action plan sets out how we intend to improve the school system by developing a transformational curriculum and assessment arrangements that will place well-being at the heart of our education system.
Our new curriculum for Wales is the anchor for our commitment to emotional well-being, supporting young people to become healthy, confident individuals, building their mental and emotional well-being by developing their self-esteem, their resilience and empathy.”
– Education Minister, Kirsty Williams
She accepted that there was a need for more support to teachers to enable them to properly respond to children in difficulty.
Based on the examples given by AMs during the debate, it was clear to the Minister that there was a good foundation to build upon.
An in-school Child & Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) pilot will be extended until 2020, backed by additional Welsh Government finance.
School staff involved in the pilot have said having timely on-site support to expert advice was a clear benefit.
Ysgol Ty Ffynnon in Shotton
The school has developed a range of interventions and support to give vulnerable children and young people the opportunity to overcome difficulties inhibiting their progress and limiting their life chances.
One of the initiatives is the National Nurturing Schools Programme which aims to develop staff personally and professionally whilst embedding a nurturing culture throughout their schools, enhancing teaching and learning, promoting healthy outcomes for children and young people
Ysgol Tŷ Ffynnon has said that during its nurture group sessions, its pupils take part in activities to develop self-awareness, build self-esteem, perseverance and positive thinking, which support their well-being, behaviour and, therefore, their learning.”
Ysgol Ty Ffynnon was the first school in Wales to complete the 2-year National Nurturing Schools Programme, which allows staff to develop personally and professionally whilst embedding a nurturing culture throughout their schools, enhancing teaching and learning, promoting healthy outcomes for children and young people.
This is achieved by focusing on emotional needs and development as well as academic learning in a whole school environment.
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