Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb a Chyfiawnder Cymdeithasol

Equality and Social Justice Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Altaf Hussain
Jane Dodds
Jenny Rathbone Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Ken Skates
Sarah Murphy
Sioned Williams

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alex Slade Cyfarwyddwr Gofal Sylfaenol ac Iechyd Meddwl, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Primary Care and Mental Health, Welsh Government
Alistair Davey Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, y Gyfarwyddiaeth Galluogi, Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol ac Integreiddio, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director, Enabling People, Social Services and Integration Directorate, Welsh Government
Eluned Morgan Y Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
The Minister for Health and Social Services
Jeremy Miles Gweinidog y Gymraeg ac Addysg
The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language
Julie Morgan Y Dirprwy Weinidog Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
The Deputy Minister for Social Services
Lloyd Hopkin Pennaeth Diwygio'r Cwricwlwm, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Curriculum Reform, Welsh Government
Sian Jones Pennaeth Cefnogi Cyflawniad a Diogelu, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Supporting Achievement and Safeguarding, Welsh Government
Sue Tranka Prif Swyddog Nyrsio Cymru
Chief Nursing Officer for Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Roche Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Chloe Corbyn Ymchwilydd
Claire Thomas Ymchwilydd
Gareth David Thomas Ymchwilydd
Rachael Davies Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Rhys Morgan Clerc
Sam Mason Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Sara Moran Ymchwilydd
Sarah Hatherley Ymchwilydd

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 10:02.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 10:02.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Good morning. Welcome to the eighth session of the Equality and Social Justice Committee's inquiry into gender-based violence and primary prevention. This meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and there is simultaneous translation from Welsh to English. Are there any declarations of interest from Members? Thank you very much.

2. Atal trais ar sail rhywedd drwy ddulliau iechyd y cyhoedd: sesiwn dystiolaeth 8
2. The public health approach to preventing gender-based violence: evidence session 8

I'd now like to welcome Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Health and Social Services; Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Social Services; Alex Slade, director of primary care and mental health; Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, who is joining us online; and Alistair Davey, deputy director of the enabling people, social services and integration directorate. Welcome to you all. 

Ministers, thank you very much indeed for your time. I just want to start off by picking up the evidence we've had from the Royal College of General Practitioners, who report that their members are focused on this endemic issue, sadly, but that they face serious barriers to accessing the help and support that patients need once they've managed to identify that there is gender-based violence present in their lives. They report particular problems about having no feedback from social services and little or no link-up with health visitors. I wondered if you could just start off by saying whether this evidence surprises you, and if it doesn't, how do you think it's going to be addressed—well, whether or not? Most people use primary care and this is way the most likely place that endemic domestic violence is going to be experienced within the health system.


The first thing to say is that we're on a journey here, and, obviously, since the Act has been introduced, I think things have improved significantly. The very fact that we've had over 300,000 people go through training specifically in this area tells you something about how seriously this is being taken. When it comes to primary care, obviously, we're in a situation where anybody who is a clinical leader in primary care is required to do safeguarding training up to level 3, and, of course, they're not revalidated unless they've been through that. So, first of all, the awareness is in a different place. I think that's the beginning.

The fact that we have things like the IRIS programme that I hope we'll have a bit more time to talk about has really changed the environment in terms of the antennae of GPs and their practices. And there is a referral service within IRIS that people can refer to that then goes after, in particular, perhaps, some of the historic issues and whatever. So, there is a mechanism. It's not rolled out everywhere. We know, for example, in Powys, that IRIS hasn't been rolled out, and I think in Monmouthshire there's still an issue. But in most places now, that opportunity and that structure do exist for them to refer on. That is something that the NHS health boards have commissioned. So, I am slightly surprised, but my suggestion would be that, actually, things have improved significantly since the introduction of the Act.

Okay, but, clearly, they are the representatives of the front-line general practitioners, so this is information that we have to take seriously.

Deputy Minister, are you able to speak to us about how social services engage with primary care on these issues? Because they highlight in their evidence that they rarely ever get people coming back to them and it's exacerbated by the inability to share data between these services and between primary and secondary care. I can come back to Eluned Morgan on that as well. So, is social services, once they make a referral about domestic violence occurring—? If social services never come back to the general practitioner or a member of the primary care team, how are we supposed to be having joined-up approaches to what are obviously vulnerable people?

Thank you. I certainly agree with the Minister that we're on a journey, and I think things are improving, but we absolutely accept there's a long way to go. But there are lots of arrangements for collaborative working and for forums where the different professionals can get together.

On the data-sharing issue, explicit data-sharing arrangements are in place for high-risk domestic abuse cases, and they're assessed on a multi-agency basis. From the perspective of practitioners referring concerns about an adult or a child, the all-Wales safeguarding procedures and practice guides provide a consistent national framework for individuals and practitioners, irrespective of the different sectorial barriers, and they respond to those concerns and should be putting in arrangements to protect individuals and their families. The procedures are supplemented through the dedicated practice guides, and include one that is specifically dedicated to domestic abuse, together with additional guides for situations where gender-based violence is directly relevant or influences an individual's behaviour. So, those procedures for data sharing are there and these guides do set out how partners should be sharing information.

Also, obviously, we have the national independent safeguarding board, and that's also published and shared widely the legal principles for sharing information, so the data sharing issue has been addressed. And we are—we may come onto this later in the discussion—developing an independent safeguarding review, which we probably will talk about later on, and data sharing is going to be specifically addressed in that.


Just finally to come back to Eluned Morgan. High-risk cases, I'm sure, are dealt with as Julie Morgan has said. This inquiry isn't principally about that, because I think the difficulties arise where we know there are issues, but we're not quite sure what we're dealing with, and by pulling information together, we can begin to understand whether there is something that requires more robust intervention.

I just wondered how you envisage primary care professionals to be much more joined-up in the way they're collaborating with other front-line workers, for example in education and in social services. Is this something you see happening through the primary care clusters, or how do you see that we enhance that relationship?

I think you're right. I think we've got to distinguish between the more serious, where we get the police involved—. I think IRIS covers that, and the fact that there's a really close collaboration on the IRIS programme between the police and the health service. I think it's probably worth pointing out that, in relation to that whole-system approach, actually—and I think it's really important that this is underlined—it's the Minister for Social Justice who has the primary responsibility in this area—

—and leads on this with the police and crime commissioner for mid and west Wales, so it's very much a joint approach on that more serious side of things. Can I ask Alex to come in a bit more about the broader community collaboration?

Diolch, Minister. Accelerated cluster development is a means to bring together partners, and obviously, again, that is a journey. We've had a year around implementing new structures around how, both physically and through the service mechanisms, those providers come together on a local basis, broadly around 100,000 population. And that's a real effort to integrate services around the place-based care agenda, but we also have a programme of work around the physical estate and how we bring together providers to be co-located in the same place, which will again work towards that.

There are two other points just to mention. I had sight of your exchange with the general practitioners committee around data sharing. Some of the challenges they articulated work the other way round. Our efforts around data sharing and improving the way in which the service holds the information around the public and patients, such that we can make those decisions that you're drawing out, is really important, and that work is under way. There are obviously some legal aspects, but there's also the infrastructure aspect about where do you put it and how do you bring that together. We're talking NHS bodies; we're talking contracted entities; we're talking social services. So, work is under way around that to have that united picture. A number of public-sector partners have signed Wales Accord on the Sharing of Personal Information agreements; it's around data sharing, it's a sort of premise around what can be shared and for what reason, and that gets into the detail you're describing beneath those high-level severe incidents, such that there is a mechanism to do so now whilst we work on a more permanent position going forwards.

Thank you for that. I'd now like to call Sarah Murphy.

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm going to ask some questions now about the implementation of the 'ask and act' framework. Can I ask how has the national training framework to support implementation of 'ask and act' been rolled out to all health and social care professionals? But if possible, can you particularly focus on GPs this morning, as we don't have an awful lot of time? We have received evidence from the Royal College of General Practitioners that many of its members were not aware of where it was or where they could access it, and there is no clear guidance on how they can do the training. Has this come up in the Welsh Government evaluation?

Thanks very much. The 'ask and act' programme again is something that has kind of fallen out of the Act, and again, is something that is led by the Minister for Social Justice. What's happened is that Welsh Ministers have published a number of statutory guidance documents in terms of what is expected in 'ask and act' as part of that national training framework. So, 'ask and act' is a part of that framework, and what we've done is we've identified key health and social care professionals in terms of the priority groups to go through that training. So, we're still, as I say, on that journey of trying to get to as many as we can.

We have already—it is now fully operational, and 27,000 professionals have been through that training, which is not an insignificant number. And, if you take that together with the 300,000 who have been through the safeguarding training, we are getting up to some pretty big numbers. So, what that really is about is just making sure that there is an enquiry, an automatic enquiry, that happens routinely—that routine enquiry. And what's interesting is that that is monitored by health boards. So, they are keeping an eye on that; they're just making sure. And it's not just about primary care. If you think about maternity interventions, you think about WAST, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, accident and emergency, all of those places are involved in this routine enquiry that is also part of that 'ask and act'.


It's interesting that you mention that, Minister, as we unfortunately as a committee have not received evidence from Cardiff and Vale health board, Swansea Bay health board or WAST.

So, unfortunately, we don't have the evidence for that, the written evidence from them. But, just to come back to GPs specifically, my question about GPs, we have had written evidence to say that there is currently no information available to members of the Royal College of General Practitioners about how they do the training, how they access the training. And, of course, there are many other people within the health boards and health service, but GPs obviously do tend to be the first point of contact for people, so this does seem to be a huge gap in joining up this programme. 

Okay, well I think you've got to see this—. There are three different aspects, okay? So, you've got 'ask and act', you've got the identification and referral to improve safety programme, and we've got the national training framework as well. So, the completion rate for the national training framework within health boards is 87 per cent. So, actually, it's not just 'ask and act'; you've got to look at those other two as well. And they all complement each other, and it's a kind of pick and mix; they have to determine what is it that suits them best. So, just because they're not doing 'ask and act' doesn't mean that they're not participating in that national training framework.

Are GPs required to do the 'ask and act', though? Are they not required to do it? No. Okay. It's up to them. 

It's not mandatory. It's worth noting that the royal college sets the curriculum for GP training, which covers in a lot of detail the components around 'ask and act', around safeguarding, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, those with vulnerabilities—obviously that's quite a broad category—and hate crime. So, for training, in order to pass their training, GPs are accredited in this. And, of course, they do go through revalidation and accreditation to maintain their status as doctors to operate in the NHS and in primary care. So, as part of their accreditation, this is also picked up through that mechanism. So, as the Minister describes, 'ask and act' doesn't create a gap by GPs not having it; they probably had it earlier than many other professions. 

Okay. Thank you very much. I'll move on. So, pregnancy can be a trigger for violence, and existing abuse might get worse during pregnancy or after birth. Obstetricians, midwives and health visitors are required to conduct a routine enquiry at every contact, in accordance with standards. Is there baseline data from which you are monitoring disclosure and the impact of 'ask and act' in maternity settings, which you mentioned earlier? And who has the strategic oversight of the process and is undertaking that regular monitoring, please?

Thanks very much. Well, routine enquiry is standardised, particularly within the all-Wales pregnancy pathway. And women are routinely asked. So, they're asked twice—not just once but twice—and perhaps in particular if their partner is with them, for example, you need to just make sure that there's an opportunity for them to go away and think and then ask again. And if there are any concerns, what happens then is that that's escalated to a named midwife, and if they're handed over, then the information is handed over. As I say, there's an expectation that health boards assess not just the population needs, but there's also a requirement for them to audit how often routine enquiry happens—does it happen consistently? That is part of what is expected within the responsibilities of those health boards.


Wonderful, thank you. I'll just finish up, Chair, with my final question. As I've already mentioned, unfortunately, we didn't receive evidence from the Welsh ambulance service, so I'm going to ask a question about Welsh Government's oversight of this. Routine enquiry should also be implemented in emergency departments and minor injury units to enable early recognition and appropriate intervention to prevent the violence escalating. Does this include paramedics? What action is the Minister taking to ensure the WAST understands its role in this prevention?

Well, I think WAST takes this very seriously and I'm surprised that they haven't come back to you, so we'll get onto that, just to find out what's going on there. They do take this very seriously. That routine enquiry is audited by health boards and trusts, and that has to be reported through their quality and safety governance arrangements, at least annually. So, this is something that they have to report on frequently. I think there's a mechanism to make sure that it's happening, as well.

Okay, wonderful. Thank you very much. Thank you, Chair.

Thanks Chair. It's good to see you. My question is about domestic violence and abuse as a leading contributor to the physical and mental health of women. Recent international guidance recommends that undergraduate medical curricula should include DVA. There have been many studies to find that out, and, in their conclusion, most medical students in the United Kingdom received a very small amount of teaching on DVA, which was towards the end of their curriculum. It is about zero to two hours at the most, which is perceived as very inadequate. I'd like you to take a lead on it, and let the world know how we are dealing with this in our medical schools, because at present we know that there are no trainers in the United Kingdom who can teach about it. It's a new subject, and people don't know about it, and so it needs to be recognised and taught fully to the medical students, who are the bread and butter of our NHS. I would like to know your thoughts about that, Minister.

Thanks very much. We covered GP training. So, the Royal College of General Practitioners do cover a lot of this in their curriculum. So, safeguarding, domestic violence, hate crimes, all of those things are covered in RCGP training. But what you're talking about, Altaf, is the broader medical students. Obviously, there is a requirement in Wales for them to undertake specific training. So, for example, on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, that is a statutory requirement that has to be undertaken once every three years. That is a statutory requirement. Beyond that, we in Wales then, within the NHS, have a mandatory 'treat me fairly' training requirement that has to happen once every three years as well, and we also have 'safeguarding people', which is recommended once every three years. So, actually, there are three effectively mandatory training requirements of NHS workers in Wales. If they didn't get it through RCGP training, then there is a requirement for them to do it through those three compulsory approaches.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. O gofio amcanion 1 a 2 y strategaeth genedlaethol, ydy'r Gweinidog wedi darparu canllawiau i fyrddau iechyd i godi ymwybyddiaeth o effaith a phrofiadau gwahanol fathau o drais ar sail rhywedd ar wahanol grwpiau o fenywod a merched, yn enwedig, er enghraifft, ffactorau risg a dangosyddion trais sy'n gysylltiedig â'r hyn sy'n cael ei alw'n gam-drin ar sail anrhydedd, anffurfio organau cenhedlu benywod, a phrofi gwyryfdod. Roedd yna stori am hyn eleni—rwy'n meddwl ym mis Ebrill—stori newyddion, pryd gwnaeth y prif swyddog nyrsio, sydd gyda ni y bore yma, ddweud, 'Dwi'n meddwl bod hwn yn rhywbeth sydd ddim yn cael ei drafod ddigon.' 

Thank you, Chair. Given the first and second objectives of the national strategy, has the Minister provided guidance to health boards to raise awareness of different kinds of gender-based violence on different groups of women and girls, in particular the risk factors and indicators of violence related to so-called honour-based abuse, female genital mutilation and virginity testing. There was a story about this this year—I think it was in April—a news story, when the chief nursing officer that we have here today said that this is something that isn't discussed sufficiently.


Wel, byddwn i'n hoffi gofyn i Sue ymyrryd fan hyn, jest i roi tamaid bach mwy o gefndir ar hwn, os yw hwnna'n iawn. 

Well, I would like to ask Sue to intervene here, just to provide more background information on this. 

Sue, are you okay to cover some of this?

Thank you, Minister; I think I'm off mute now. Thank you very much. Yes, I did talk about virginity testing earlier this year. I was joined with Minister Hutt at BAWSO, who published and announced their framework for virginity testing in health services, but particularly across the communities as well.

I think it is a little known and little understood issue currently amongst our communities, and I think it is one that is really important for us to raise awareness, through the training, which is now incorporated within our national training framework, on understanding the type of discussions that need to be had, which are person centred and, particularly, that can be relationship based. So, where, generally, these disclosures will happen, which are quite difficult to undertake, I guess, the consultations to ensure people do disclose, because you have to try and build quite a bit of a relationship. So, it's never disclosed in the first consultation, hence the relationship-based care, and it is a difficult one in communities; it's not often discussed. It's one that is also not visible, unfortunately, particularly virginity testing is one that nobody can—. You can't see it, it's not visible, and it is not legal, firstly. And I think this is the bit that communities need to understand first and foremost. 

I particularly think education needs to start all the way down from schools. I think it's really important this is taught to girls, but also to boys. And I think it's really important that practitioners who are undertaking or being part of this, or aiding and abetting in any way, understand that this is completely illegal. It removes dignity, it is gender-based violence, and it is completely unacceptable. I think more needs to be done in communities, and I think this can be done through community leaders engaging and starting communications and discussions within the community. But I really do fundamentally think this sort of education starts at school level.

Diolch. Ydych chi a'r Gweinidog yn fodlon gyda'r hyn sydd wedi cael ei ddarparu o ran canllawiau i'r byrddau iechyd i godi ymwybyddiaeth am y math arbennig yma o drais?

Thank you. Are you and the Minister satisfied with what's been provided in terms of guidance for health boards in raising awareness of these specific types of violence?

Wel, mae wastad mwy y gallwn ni ei wneud, ond dwi'n meddwl bod yr ymwybyddiaeth yma yn rhywbeth—. Ers i ni gyflwyno'r Mesur, dwi'n meddwl bod pethau wedi symud yn eithaf pell o fewn y byrddau iechyd, achos mae'r disgwyliadau yna, fel bod rhaid iddyn nhw sicrhau eu bod nhw'n cadw llygad ar yr hyn sy'n digwydd yn y maes yma. 

Well, there's always more that can be done, but I think that this awareness is something—. Since we introduced the Bill, I think that things have moved quite far within the health boards, because the expectations are there and so they have to ensure that they monitor what's going on in this area. 

Ie, ocê. Diolch. Cwestiwn wedyn am episodau ailadroddus o heintiau sy'n cael eu trosglwyddo'n rhywiol, beichiogrwydd anfwriadol. Mae'r rhain yn gallu bod yn ddangosyddion o drais ar sail rhywedd. Ydy'r Gweinidog wedi darparu digon o gyfarwyddyd i wasanaethau iechyd rhywiol ac atgenhedlu i sicrhau eu bod nhw'n chwarae rhan yn adnabod goroeswyr yn gynnar?

Okay, thank you. A question, then, on another aspect, which is repetitive episodes of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. These can be indicators of gender-based violence. Has the Minister provided sufficient direction to sexual reproductive health services to ensure they play a role in the early identification of survivors?

Wel, dwi'n meddwl bod gyda ni system, a dwi'n meddwl bod rhaid i ni fod yn ymwybodol bod y byrddau iechyd yn cael eu harwain gan y British Association for Sexual Health and HIV a'r Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare standards and guidance. A beth mae hwnna'n dweud yw, ym mhob interaction, fod yna gyfle i ymyrryd pryd bynnag mae gyda chi gyfle lle mae pobl yn dod atoch chi gyda issues sexual reproductive. Mae yna gyfle i siarad am hyn yn y maes yna. A beth sy'n digwydd wedyn yw bod yr ymyrraeth yna'n digwydd ac mae'n cael ei anfon i'r gwasanaeth sydd ar gael iddyn nhw. 

Dwi'n meddwl ei fod e hefyd yn werth nodi yn fan hyn ein bod ni'n datblygu women's health plan. Bydd hwn yn gynllun NHS, ond byddwn ni fel Llywodraeth yn sicr yn gofyn iddyn nhw ystyried cael gender-based violence fel rhan o'r hyn y byddan nhw'n ei ddatblygu fel rhan o'r NHS women's health plan.

Well, I think that we do have a system, and I think that we need to be aware that the health boards are led by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health standards and guidance. And what that says is that all interactions have intervention opportunities, where you have that opportunity when people approach you with a sexual or reproductive issue. There is an opportunity to discuss that in that area. And what then happens is that that intervention happens and it is directed to the appropriate service for that. 

I think it's worth noting here also that we are developing a women's health plan. It will be an NHS plan, but we as a Government will be asking them to consider, certainly, having gender-based violence as a part of what they're developing as part of the NHS women's health plan.


Diolch. O ran dyletswyddau cyfreithiol, oes yna unrhyw rai ar wasanaethau i ddarparu clinigau sy'n mynd i'r afael yn benodol ag anghenion goroeswyr trais ar sail rhywedd? Ydy e'n realistig i gydleoli arbenigwyr trais yn erbyn menywod, trais ddomestig a thrais ar sail rhywedd mewn lleoliadau iechyd? Roedd yr ymgynghorydd cenedlaethol, Johanna Robinson, wedi dweud wrthym ni'n gynharach, ac fe wnaethom ni glywed hefyd gan ein grŵp ni sy'n ein cynghori ni, grŵp o oroeswyr sy'n cynghori ni yn ystod yr ymchwiliad yma, ei fod e wedi bod yn amhosib ceisio cael mynediad at gwnsela a therapi ar gyfer plant y goroeswyr, ac roedd goroeswyr yn grac am y diffyg cefnogaeth sydd ar gael i helpu'r plant prosesu'r hyn a oedd wedi digwydd iddyn nhw. Rŷn ni'n gwybod, wrth gwrs, wrth siarad am yr hyn mae'r ymchwiliad yma'n edrych arno, sef yr atal yna a'r approach iechyd gyhoeddus, fod hyn yn hanfodol. Ydych chi'n meddwl byddai cydleoli'n help yn hyn o beth, ac ydy hynny'n bosib?

Thank you. In terms of legal duties, are there any on health services to provide clinics that specifically address the needs of survivors of gender-based violence? Is it realistic to expect the co-location of specialists in health settings, VAWDASV specialists in health settings? The national adviser, Johanna Robinson, told us earlier, and we also heard from our advisory group, our group of survivors, that it's been impossible to try to access counselling and therapy for children of survivors, and survivors were unhappy with the lack of support available to help children process what had happened to them. We know, of course, in talking about what this inquiry's looking at, which is the prevention and the public health approach, that this is essential. Do you think that co-locating would help in this, and is that possible?

Wel, rŷn ni eisiau gweld lot mwy o gydleoli, a dwi'n meddwl bod cyfle ar gael gyda'r clystyrau yma rŷn ni'n eu datblygu, ac rŷn ni'n dal ar y siwrne yna o ddatblygu'r clystyrau, ac, wrth gwrs, mae gyda ni gynllun i adnewyddu ac i ddod â mwy o'r gwasanaethau yma ynghyd mewn un man. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yna gyfle i ni fynd ymhellach nag ydym ni wedi mynd hyd yn hyn achos y clystyrau. 

Well, we want to see a lot more co-location, and there is an opportunity with the clusters that we're developing, and we're still on that journey of the development of the clusters, and, of course, we have a plan to refresh the services and bring more of them together in one location. So, I think that there is an opportunity for us to go further than we have previously because of those clusters.

So, I don't know, Alex, is that something you'd like to expand on?

A beth am y ddyletswydd gyfreithiol wedyn i ddarparu'r clinigau yma? Ydy hynny'n rhywbeth rydych chi'n ei ystyried?

And what about the legal duty, then, to provide these clinics? Is that something that you're considering?

So, the legal duty will fall under NHS statutory responsibilities for the needs of the population. There isn't a specific legal duty as you described for that group. You've asked and you mentioned about challenges accessing child and adolescent mental health services—or specialist CAMHS it would be—for these groups. It's worth noting—you know, it's not without challenges in terms of the demands upon those services across a wide group of individuals, but—performance is improving across health boards, so we're seeing improved trajectories around specialist CAMHS, with most now meeting their 80 per cent target. So, clearly, that doesn't mean that it covers all areas, but, actually, the mechanism in terms of accessing that support is performing at a good level.

I think the other part I'd mention there is that it's not necessarily all about mental health referral services and specialist CAMHS. So, the trauma-informed Wales framework is an important mechanism here, and that approach, taking a trauma-informed approach to things—settings around schools, third sector et cetera—for that engagement, particularly young children having large amounts of engagement with other services in the public sector and having a trauma-informed response mechanism is really important there, such that we don't medicalise everything into specialist CAMHS, but clearly making sure that's available for those when they do need it.

Diolch. A jest i gloi, te, cwestiwn i'r ddwy Weinidog, mewn gwirionedd. Mae ein grŵp cynghori ni, fel roeddwn i'n sôn, sy'n cynnwys goroeswyr trais ar sail rhywedd, yn dweud bod angen integreiddio gofal ar gyfer goroeswyr trais o fewn gwasanaethau iechyd a gwasanaethau cymdeithasol yn hytrach na sefydlu gwasanaethau cyfochrog. Beth yw'ch ymateb chi i hynny, ac a fydd y cynllun iechyd menywod yn cyffwrdd ar hyn?

Thank you. Just to close, a question to both Ministers, really. Our advisory group, as I mentioned, which includes survivors of gender-based violence, say that there is a need to integrate care for gender-based violence survivors within health and social services rather than setting up parallel services. What is your response to this, and will the upcoming women's health plan touch on this?

Wel, dwi'n meddwl ein bod ni i gyd yn deall bod angen integreiddio, fod angen dod ag iechyd a gwasanaethau cymdeithasol at ei gilydd. Dwi'n meddwl dyw hwnna ddim jest yn rhywbeth mae eisiau i ni ei weld o ran gofal cymdeithasol, ond mae hefyd yn rhywbeth mae angen i ni ei weld, er enghraifft, yn ein hysgolion. Felly, mae yna gyfle yn ein hysgolion hefyd, ac mi fyddwch chi'n ymwybodol bod yna whole-system approach i iechyd meddwl yn ein hysgolion ni nawr. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yn rhaid iddo fe fynd hyd yn oed yn fwy eang na jest gwasanaethau cymdeithasol. So, fel dywedais i reit o'r cychwyn, rŷn ni ar siwrnai fan hyn. Rhan o beth sydd angen inni ei wneud yw dod â'r data ynghyd. Mae peth o beth siaradoch chi amdano yn gynharach, er enghraifft, y GPs sydd biau'r wybodaeth, felly mae'n rhaid iddyn nhw roi caniatâd i rannu'r wybodaeth. Ac mae yna'n dal lot o drafod ynglŷn ag i ba raddau mae'r wybodaeth bersonol yma yn gallu cael ei rhannu. Achos mae'r berthynas yna gyda GP yn un sydd yn rili sensitif, ac felly, os ydych chi'n rhoi hwnna, ac mae'r GP wedyn yn dweud, 'Na, dwi ddim yn mynd i'w rannu e; dwi ddim yn fodlon ei rannu e', achos y berthynas yna, mae'n rhaid inni—. So, mae'r rheini'n gamau rŷn ni'n ceisio gweithio trwyddynt ar hyn o bryd gyda'r GPs. A dwi'n deall pam maen nhw yn y sefyllfa yna, ond mae'n rili, rili sensitif o ran rhannu gwybodaeth a phwy sydd biau’r wybodaeth. Ar hyn o bryd, y GPs sydd biau'r wybodaeth yna.

Well, I think that we all understand that there is a need to integrate, and that we need to bring health and social services together. That's not just something we need to see in terms of social care, but it's something that we need to see, for example, in our schools. So, there's an opportunity in our schools too, and you'll be aware that there is a whole-system approach to mental health in our schools now. So, I think it has to be even more broad ranging than just social services. As I said at the outset, we're on a journey here. Part of what we need to do is bring the data together. In terms of what you mentioned earlier, for example, the GPs own that information, so they have to provide consent to share that information. And there are discussions ongoing regarding the extent to which that personal information can be shared. Because that relationship with the GP is a very sensitive one, so, if you provide that and the GP says, 'No, I'm not going to share that information', because of that relationship—. Well, those are actions that we are trying to work through at the moment with the GPs. And I do understand why they're in that situation, but it is very sensitive in terms of sharing information and the ownership of that information. At the moment, the GPs own that information.


Thank you. We've got three further issues that we want to try and address in these last 10 minutes, so starting with Jane Dodds.

Diolch yn fawr iawn, a bore da ichi. Dwi eisiau gofyn am systemau diogelu mewn iechyd a hefyd mewn systemau gofal hefyd. Pa mor hyderus ydych chi fel Gweinidogion yn y sytemau diogelu, a sut ydych chi'n monitro'r rheini hefyd yn iechyd a hefyd mewn gofal?

Thank you very much, and good morning. I want to ask questions about safeguarding systems in health and also in care systems. How confident are you as Ministers in the safeguarding systems, and how are you monitoring those as well in health and also in care?

Dwi'n mynd i ofyn i Julie.

I'm going to ask Julie to answer this.

Okay, fine. Thank you. Yes. Well, obviously collaboration and working together is the key issue in safeguarding, and it's absolutely critical that all agencies and employees, and everyone they care for, are able to respond to concern when somebody is at risk of abuse, or is experiencing abuse. So, we have got comprehensive and consistent arrangements that cross professional, organisational and geographical boundaries to protect people: so, as you'll be aware, the Wales safeguarding procedures, supported by detailed practice guidance and national safeguarding training, and learning and development standards that focus on the presenting need, for example, domestic abuse, while enabling practitioners to explore any other additional risks arising from the initial concern. And just to give—. An example of this is demonstrated within the violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence blueprint work streams on children and young people and older people. Designated nurses from the NHS attend the blueprint work streams, and any relevant messaging for the wider NHS safeguarding network is fed back through the communication mechanisms that are set up and are discussed in the VAWDASV steering group. And also health boards and trusts are encouraged to attend, to ensure wider engagement within organisations to align with the agreed recommendations. So, I think there are collaborative methods set up in order to deal with safeguarding issues, and we depend on them being implemented effectively. 

Gaf i ofyn a ydych chi'n hyderus a pha mor hyderus ydych chi yn y systemau? Dŷch chi wedi siarad am y prosesau, ac mae hynny'n bwysig, wrth gwrs, ond gaf i ofyn i chi'ch dwy: pa mor hyderus ydych chi yn y systemau a pha fath o gamau sydd yn rhaid inni eu cymryd inni i gyd bod yn fwy hyderus yn y systemau gofal?

May I ask if you're confident and how confident are you in the systems? You've spoken about the processes, and that's important, of course, but may I ask you both: how confident are you in these systems and what sort of steps do we need to take to ensure that we're all more confident in the care systems?

Yes, I have confidence in the systems, and I think we do our utmost to safeguard people and children, so I would certainly give my confidence towards that. But we are developing lots of ways of working, and if I can refer to the single unified safeguarding review that we're introducing, which I think is going to be a very important way of bringing all these things together, and we will look there, in that, at other issues that have been raised here this morning already, such as data sharing—look again at these issues—I'll perhaps ask Alistair to say something to say something about the safeguarding review, because I think that is one of the crucial ways that we are moving ahead on this work. But, to your question, yes I am confident, but I think we've still got a lot to do, and this is one of the ways we're going to do it. 


Certainly. We've just gone out to consultation on the single unified safeguarding review and we're just analysing that at the moment. And, obviously, we're looking at putting in place that review and that new mechanism from the beginning of next year. We've already got the Wales repository, run by Cardiff University, up and running. That will include our ability to look at thematic reviews and include metadata from gender-based violence. It's really important, because, obviously, it's going to pick up on the learning from adult practice reviews, child practice reviews and domestic homicide reviews and offensive weapon reviews. So, that data, we know some of it has been held by the Home Office for a long time, particularly on domestic abuse, and that hasn't actually been taken forward. So, that is something that we want to make sure within Wales, and we've got a ministerial oversight board to ensure that that learning is embedded. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Oes amser i jest clywed gan y Gweinidog iechyd? Pa mor hyderus ydych chi am y system yn gyfan? 

Thank you very much. Is there time just to hear from the health Minister? How confident are you in the systems? 

Wel, dwi'n meddwl bod y system—. Dwi'n meddwl bod ni ar siwrnai. Dwi'n meddwl bod dal gwaith gyda ni i'w wneud, ond dwi yn meddwl bod ni mewn sefyllfa lle mae yna gydweithio yn digwydd yn systematig nawr, a dwi'n meddwl bod yr arweinyddiaeth gan Jane Hutt yn dangos hynny'n glir. 

Well, I think that the system—. I think that we're on a journey. I think that we do still have work to do, but I do think that we're in a situation where there is collaboration happening on a systematic level, and I do think that the leadership from Jane Hutt does show that clearly. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Mae amser yn brin. 

Thank you very much. Time is scarce. 

Thanks, Chair. Thanks, Ministers. The main concern women from our advisory group had was the lack of access for their children to specialist mental health support. So, do you think that there's a case for prioritising access to CAMHS for those children who witness or experience gender-based violence?

Well, I think this has got to be a clinical decision, and, as you've heard earlier, we are now in a situation—and this is quite a recent place we're in—where the majority of those requiring a CAMHS appointment are being seen within the target time of four weeks. So, those children who need that support are getting fairly quick support, and I think this is an area where there is a particular sensitivity. What we've got is this trauma-informed Wales framework just to make sure that there's an understanding of how we can support people—in particular, children—who've been through that trauma. And, of course, we've got things like the youth mental health toolkit, but I think the kind of experience you're talking about needs a bit more intervention and a bit more hand holding than online support. So, I think standing with and by children who've been through this is really critical, and the fact that we're down to four weeks now I think is really—. That's a huge improvement. 

Thanks, Minister, and just another brief question from me about mental health and the consequences of gender-based violence on well-being. GPs can be trusted, very much so, by women who experience gender-based violence, but how concerned are you that workload pressures and changes to the way GP practices operate may be undermining relationship-based care? 

So, this is really interesting. I've been reading a lot over the summer about the trade-offs that we have to make in relation to health, and they're really difficult—they're really difficult—because we all know that having that particular relationship with a particular GP, clinically, outcomes are better—this is evidence-based stuff—but you've got to trade that off against accessibility, and accessibility is really important to the public. So, it's a really, really difficult trade-off that we have to manage. 

So, I just think that, in terms of workload, we all know about workload pressures and GPs. We all know that they're trained—. When they're tested at the end of their training, they're tested for a 12-minute consultation, which they get down to 10 minutes. Look, GPs are professionals. They flex. I can't remember the last time I had a 10-minute consultation. I can be in and out within a couple of minutes, usually, and that's fine. But actually that means that there's space for others to have a much longer consultation. So that's where the professionalism of the GP needs to kick in.

But the other thing we have to remember is that it's not just GPs that can do this. There are other specialists, which is why that kind of cluster approach that you were talking about earlier, about what else can we wrap around these GP services, is key. And I think the more we can work as clusters, the more specialist we can make those services, and the easier it will be to refer to a specialist within primary care. And I think that's the ideal of where we need to get to. 


I think we've run out of time, unfortunately, now. There are a couple of other issues we wanted to address to you, but I think we're going to have to write to you, because I know that at least one of you has got another meeting. Thank you both very much for your contributions today. We'll obviously send you a transcript, which you can correct if we've recorded something incorrectly. So, thank you, both, to the Ministers and your officials for coming along today. 

3. Cynnig o dan Reolau Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix) i wahardd y cyhoedd o’r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitemau 4 a 7
3. Motion under Standing Orders 17.42(vi) and (ix) to exclude the public from items 4 and 7 of the meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 4 a 7 y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheolau Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the items 4 and 7 of the meeting in accordance with Standing Orders 17.42(vi) and (ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Can I now move that, under Standing Order 17.42, we exclude the public for items 4 and 7 of today's meeting? So, we will be resuming the public session at 13:30, when we are going to be interviewing the Minister for education on this important subject of gender-based violence.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:46.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:46.


Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 13:30.

The committee reconvened in public at 13:30.

5. Atal trais ar sail rhywedd drwy ddulliau iechyd y cyhoedd: sesiwn dystiolaeth 9
5. The public health approach to preventing gender-based violence: evidence session 9

We are now continuing with the public health approach to preventing gender-based violence, and, in evidence session 9, I'm very happy to welcome Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Sian Jones, head of supporting achievement and safeguarding, and Lloyd Hopkin. I'm afraid I don't have your title, but perhaps you can tell us when—

Head of curriculum reform.

Excellent. Thank you very much indeed. 

So, Minister, I just wanted to start off by saying that, obviously, schools face a very challenging time; they have plenty on their plates, including collapsing ceilings and things like that. To what extent are education settings able to prioritise prevention as a response to gender-based violence amongst all the other things they're having to do?

Thank you for the invitation to join you, Chair, today. I think the critical thing with all of the work we're trying to do in schools is to align as much of it as possible, and if you have a common vision for what you're trying to achieve, that, I think, is supported and facilitated. So, the approach that we expect and hope schools to be taking is one where prevention is integrated, really, where practicable, into all aspects of the curriculum and the way in which schools are expected to operate more broadly. And you can see themes that illustrate that.

So, the whole-school approach to mental health and well-being has a part to play in demonstrating healthy, trusted relationships in a school setting, but perhaps most important is the role of the Curriculum for Wales and in particular within that, obviously, the area of learning and experience that is to do with health and well-being. And, of course, probably at the top of the list of priorities in this space in terms of the preventative work, certainly, is the relationships and sexuality education code, which is very specific. It's obviously mandatory and it's obviously taught in a way that is age appropriate, but it is clear that recognising harmful, abusive or coercive behaviour in personal relationships is one of its objectives from age 11 onwards, and, more broadly than that, understanding and having an awareness of different kinds of harmful or abusive behaviour, including violence on the basis of sex and gender. So, it's very much in this space, and the guidance that we've provided is obviously crucial to the implementation of the code and itself talks about learners being supported to recognise all forms of discrimination and domestic abuse and sexual violence, and, crucially, sitting alongside the preventative focus, how, also, to seek help and advice as well—so, that sense of individual and collective responsibility, modelling healthy relationships and then specifically engaging on questions to do with sex and gender-based violence as well.

Obviously, it's very welcome that well-being is front and centre of the new curriculum and seeing children as individuals rather than as a group, but it's quite a challenging journey as well in terms of how individual teachers are going to deliver the relationships and sexuality education to the pupils they're responsible for. So, could you underline what monitoring mechanisms you have or plan to put in place to assess adherence to the legal duties that obviously exist around safeguarding, which go with this RSE agenda?

Yes. That's a broader set of questions, really, isn't it, around safeguarding more broadly. In terms of the compliance by a school with its legal obligations, obviously, the role of the governing body is central to that and our role is to issue statutory guidance or guidance to schools and governing bodies then have regard to that and must have regard to that in how they perform their functions. But I suppose the first level of monitoring to ensure those responsibilities—and there's quite a range of legal duties that arise, obviously, in the context of safeguarding—is the responsibility of the local authority. From our point of view, the guidance that we provide, 'Keeping learners safe', which provides very specific support to schools about how they can discharge their legal obligations, also includes, for example, an audit tool that enables schools to understand their obligations and to map that on to the operations of the school. Obviously, anybody working in an education setting employed by a local authority, for example, has a duty to report incidents when they arise.

I suppose the final piece of that picture, the monitoring point that you made importantly at the end—well, it's a fundamentally important part of Estyn's role in inspection to ensure that schools have appropriate safeguarding measures in place from a compliance perspective, but perhaps more ambitiously, that that is part of the culture of the school as well. So, it's not simply a question of complying with the legislation. Estyn will look more broadly than that around the creation of a safe environment and a safeguarding environment, and monitoring that is important from their point of view as well.


Given that it is a new agenda to endeavour to use the relationships and sexuality education to prevent gender-based violence in the future, what Welsh Government programmes are there to drive this really quite challenging change?

Well, there are a range of programmes that support schools in this, and many of them will originate in funding that we provide as a Government, but which we haven't ourselves directly commissioned, as you will appreciate—so, regional consortia, local authorities and others will also be creating programmes that will have originated in our funding, if you like. But, from our own point of view, I suppose to highlight two very specific ones that we directly fund and support, the first is the Wales police community schools programme, which has as part of its core programme learning around online safety, sexting, but then also sexual exploitation and domestic violence—so, it has a broad and important range of core elements. The Minister responsible for that programme is, in fact, the Deputy Minister for mental health, but we obviously work very closely together in this area and in a number of others. And, actually, that programme has been running for many years very successfully, and it has a preventative component as well as developing that trusted relationship with the police, and, obviously, that can be important in some of the context that the committee is exploring here. That programme has just been reviewed for effectiveness, and the results of the review, I think, have just been presented to Lynne Neagle, so she will be considering that. So, that's one.

Another, and I'm sure Members will maybe even have seen this in action—I saw it in a school in the Bridgend constituency, actually—is that we fund Hafan Cymru's Spectrum project, which is a very effective project when you see it in action. It provides support to staff and governors, but I saw it in action in supporting young people in a primary school to understand the implications of domestic abuse in that context. But it's a very effective programme, and we're looking for ways to enable that to be extended as well.

Thank you very much, and thank you, Minister, for being here today. I can concur; it was very good to see that programme and I do think there'd be value in rolling it out.

I'm going to ask some further questions about the Welsh curriculum. So, as we know, education settings can help to promote healthy relationships, to challenge stereotypes and foster gender equality, particularly relationships and sexuality education, which will aim to prevent the messages to ensure schools are challenging societal gender norms that drive gender-based violence—so, a huge area that they're being expected to work with, really. Could you talk us through any work that you'll be doing to commission impact assessments and evaluations of the health and well-being area of learning and experience or relationships and sexuality education? You mentioned monitoring, so how can we find out how this is working, where this is working?

Okay. So, I think the point you made, if I may say, is really important, to recognise that what we're looking at here is a broader societal problem, and schools are reflecting what's happening around them. I think it is important to see it from that point of view, because it tells you about how best to try and respond. But the point you make about understanding the impact of the curriculum is obviously fundamental. So, there are a number of things under way in this space already. Our curriculum impact assessment has—from the start, actually—recognised that how we deliver RSE is fundamentally important. It’s fundamentally important to the discussion we’re having today, but also much more broadly as well. So, that will continue to be an ongoing area of focus for the evaluation work that we are doing.

The annual report that we published identified the need to develop the continuing professional support for teachers in order to be able to deliver this successfully, just in the way that the Chair was mentioning earlier. So, over the next academic year, we’ve got a programme of work working with our practitioners and other partners that develop the resource base in this area.

In terms of the initial research that we’ve done into efficacy of aspects of the curriculum, I published the first of those in April. I’m publishing the second of them next week, and the first one identified the importance of RSE and how we can make sure that’s well implemented. Actually, our research showed us that despite, perhaps, some of the messages that we’ve heard more broadly in the media, the experience of most schools has been one in which it’s been effectively delivered and supportively delivered, and I think it’s very important that we bear that in mind. But we also identified—consistent with what we’d picked up and reported in the annual report—a call from some heads, perhaps, to say they wanted a little bit more support for introducing this part of the curriculum successfully. So, we’ve definitely heard that.

The other aspect to this, more broadly on the health and well-being area, is that you will have seen a few weeks ago that we published our plans for curriculum evaluation in the longer term, and some of that is about to start later this term. There'll be a review process that we'll initiate, and part of that is, if you like, a series of deep-dives into aspects of the curriculum—this is a longer term piece of work, really—and the health and well-being area will be one of those areas that we’re doing a deep-dive into. Obviously, the objective is for us to learn how it’s being implemented and do teachers feel they need more support—so, just that really practical stuff around how we deliver this well.


Okay. Thank you. And you mentioned Estyn earlier on, and, in 2017, Estyn published a review of healthy relationships education. How well, in your opinion, have schools progressed with the issues raised in that report? Are you willing to include follow-up work on this in Estyn's next remit letter, recognising that RSE is now taught in primary schools under the new curriculum?

Well, it was a good report. We accepted all the recommendations and we continue to discuss it with Estyn, and we will consider whether we need to do further work through Estyn on this. What I would say, though, as we would all recognise, I think, is that the context has changed quite a lot since 2017. So, obviously, now we have mandatory healthy relationships learning in schools as part of the new curriculum, and, alongside that, I've just touched a little bit on some of the evaluation and monitoring that we are doing. So, there are other statutory bases and other sources of monitoring and evaluation happening in the system, which weren't in place in 2017, so I just think the context is probably worth bearing in mind as well.

Okay, thank you very much. And my last question: we do have members of our advisory group in the gallery this afternoon, and one of the things that they raised, actually, is just that—. And I thought I'd heard it all, I'll be honest with you, but some of the examples that we heard of some of the relationships and some of the conduct that's happening in schools, that's happening among students, did shock me, and NSPCC Wales has said that the RSE curriculum must be frequently reviewed to ensure it remains aligned with emerging trends and the changing experiences and needs of young people. So, I just wanted to ask, really: how do you intend to ensure this? Because, as we know, things move on; things change. There are so many different influences out there outside of the home, outside of the education settings. We've had particular personalities who have been mentioned—I'm not going to mention their name in here, but—who kind of pop-up in these trends and put out there some really, really damaging, dangerous messages. So, how can we ensure that it's always kept up-to-date with those emerging trends? Also, how can we ensure that young people are involved in that, so that they know that there is a safe space to really talk about what's really happening?

Yes. Well, the learner voice and learner experience is an important part of our evaluation of how the curriculum generally works, and definitely in this area it's particularly important, for the reason that you gave. You mentioned the NSPCC. Just to acknowledge, the work that they did with us in developing the RSE element of the curriculum and their continued advocacy for it, I think, is wonderful.


So, I thank them for that. I think the point you make is really important, and I also won't mention the individual, for the same reason that you won't, but I have spoken to a number of heads, and it's been an eye-opener, if I can be completely honest with you, hearing how they described the influence of social media influences, as it were, very vividly on aspects of school life, which can be quite shocking when you hear some of the consequences of it. So, I do think, then, that it's important that we do keep this area live, really. That's the point, isn't it? It's a live part of our curriculum, it's reflecting society and it needs to continue to do that. 

We've got an annual cycle of small-ish, contained amendments, if you like, to the curriculum. So, there's an opportunity to pick up on changes and emerging trends and changed context as part of that. But, there's also a longer term cycle of review, some of which I've just touched upon now. So, between the two, there are plenty of opportunities for us to keep an eye on not just how it's being implemented as it is today but, as you rightly say, how we might need to adapt it in future. 

Can I just follow up and ask how easy or difficult, or how challenging it is to involve parents in developing more respectful relationships, in the sense that we can be talking to children about what respectful relationships look like, but we also need to work with the other people who are fundamental to a child's life, particularly in primary school, otherwise that poor child is just getting conflicting arguments, and some of them are very, very confusing for a child?

Well, our guidance in relation to how to deliver this as part of the RSE element of the curriculum, I suppose, which is the most tangible and concrete manifestation of it that I've suggested today, is very clear that we expect schools to work with parents in order to deliver this successfully. And we've spoken with a number of schools about how best to go about that, and there is some really, really good practice that schools are, I think, sharing quite effectively through their regional consortia, and increasingly effectively. It's a very practical thing at the end of the day, isn't it, really.

I, myself, have visited a cluster in Cardiff to talk to the staff there who had had some challenging experiences about how they have started to overcome that by having open conversations with parents. And sometimes, for different reasons, those can be quite challenging, can't they? But that, I think, experience is suggesting to us pretty clearly that where schools have been able to have those open discussions with parents, that's where that part of the curriculum has been most successfully embedded and is being rolled out most successfully. 

But there are challenging conversations and, obviously, as part of the broader picture, with attendance levels not being anywhere near where we want them to be, there is a range of ways in which schools and parents need to engage differently with each other, perhaps, and some of that can be equally challenging. So, I think that broader context is important, but, on this particular point, we know that where that communication is open is where it's working best, basically.

Thank you. I'd like to call Ken Skates now to ask some questions. 

Thanks, Chair. Thanks, Minister. I'm going to ask some questions, if I may, about the whole-school approach. The committee has heard that there is strong evidence to support a whole-school approach in preventing gender-based violence. What influence do you think needs to be exerted to ensure that school leaders and governors prioritise and also take ownership of this issue within their school setting? For example, are there minimum standards and a monitoring framework in place?

Well, I think the context around this has become more publicly discussed and, in that sense, perhaps better understood by society generally. So, I'm sure you would have been as shocked as I was to read some of the evidence in the Everyone's Invited survey, for example. And that has been a catalyst for a discussion, which this committee's work forms part of, and it's very important that that happens. I'm clear, though, that I think that school leaders do take this seriously, and I think the work Estyn has done to review, for example, peer-on-peer sexual harassment, has some very tangible things that we need to help schools to deliver. And there are questions there around confidence to deal with some of these complex issues, but I don't think there's a lack of priority attached to it.

On the two particular points that you asked about, I do agree with you that the way to succeed here is effectively linking all aspects of a school's thinking and operations and curriculum, so that you've got that common set of principles, which I talked about at the start. The guidance that we've provided, which is the VAWDASV guidance for governors, recommends that schools appoint a governor specifically to support the head and senior staff in relation to their policy on VAWDASV. We recommend that being the child protection link governor, most often, for obvious reasons. So, there's an expectation that that is already in place. And as I just touched on in passing at the start, from a monitoring point of view and a minimum expectations point of view, the work that Estyn does in its inspection regime covers this area as well. So, there's an expectation that schools are delivering on this, and most take this very, very seriously.


Thank you. Are you willing to reconsider a national programme of professional learning to better equip teachers with the skills necessary to deal with this matter?

The annual report I mentioned earlier did in fact talk about the importance, which we would all recognise, of continuing professional support for teachers in aspects, certainly, of RSE in the curriculum. In the next academic year, we'll be doing a programme of work with practitioners, as I mentioned earlier. That will include reviewing options for a national approach. Any of you that have come across DARPL, which is the diversity and anti-racist professional training programme—. It's very successful and very popular. The question we're asking ourselves is, 'Is there a case for a DARPL in RSE?' if you like. That's what we're working through at the moment, and over the course of the next year, working with practitioners, we'll explore that option, certainly.

That's good to hear. Thanks. Just finally, and it follows on from the supplementary question asked by the Chair regarding the role of parents in this area of concern, what do you think the key challenges are for schools in forging alliances with parents and the wider community?

I do some of this work jointly with Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, who I think you took evidence from just this morning—

Oh, next week. Forgive me. We work closely in this area. I touched in my response to the Chair on some of the broader challenges that schools face in terms of engagement at the moment. Our community-focused schools policy is intended to get to the heart of this, really, which is about breaking down barriers between the community and the school, but I think, also, crucially, engaging parents and sometimes re-engaging parents with the school, and recreating for parents the image of what a school is. Some parents may not have had a great experience themselves of school, so that will colour very much, obviously, their dealings with the school on behalf of their child. I've seen some very effective working, and many of us will have in our constituencies, I'm sure, which has really been about just making schools more porous, to bring parents in in different ways, so that it's not solely a place of education but also a broader set of experiences. That has been very effective. We all know that family engagement work, and family engagement officers, is a really effective way of reaching families who are maybe struggling or finding it challenging to send their young people to school, so we've increased the funding in that area quite significantly, as you will know. It's over £6.5 million now, and I think that's very important work. It's not work that all schools have, but the schools that need the support are able to get it through that fund.

Thank you very much. If I can now call on Sioned Williams.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Mae trais ar sail rhywedd, wrth gwrs, yn cymryd nifer o ffurfiau gwahanol, nifer o agweddau iddyn nhw. Fe wnaethoch chi grybwyll yn eich ateb blaenorol chi y gwnaethoch chi ymateb i adroddiad y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg y llynedd ar aflonyddu rhywiol rhwng cymheiriaid, ac fe sonioch chi y byddai yna gynllun amlasiantaeth. Ydy hynny wedi cael ei gyhoeddi, ac, os nad yw e, pryd ydych chi'n disgwyl cyhoeddi'r cynllun?

Thank you, Chair. Gender-based violence, of course, takes many different forms, and there are many aspects to that. You mentioned in your previous answer that you had responded to the report by the Children, Young People and Education Committee last year on peer-to-peer sexual harassment, and you said that there would be a multi-agency plan. Has that been published, and, if not, when you do expect to publish it?


Dyw e ddim wedi cael ei gyhoeddi, ond mae e ar fin cael ei gyhoeddi, a'r bwriad yw cyhoeddi fe yn ystod y tymor hwn cyn y Nadolig. Felly, bydd cyfle i'r pwyllgor graffu arno fe yr amser hynny. 

It hasn't been published, but it's about to be published, and the intention is to publish it before Christmas in this term. So, there will be an opportunity for the committee to scrutinise it then. 

Iawn, diolch. Oedd yna unrhyw reswm penodol ynglŷn â pham mae e heb ddod i'r fei hyd yn hyn, neu—

Thank you. Was there any specific reason why it hasn't been published yet?

Wel, fel rŷch chi'n dweud, mae e'n waith cymhleth, onid yw e, i sicrhau bod yr holl elfennau, yr holl agweddau, yn cael eu hymdrin ar y cyd. Felly, yr holl bwrpas yw sicrhau bod asiantaethau yn dod â'u profiad a'u perspectifs nhw at ei gilydd, ac mae'r gwaith hwnnw, er mwyn ei gyflawni fe'n iawn, yn cymryd amser, ond y bwriad yw yr hydref yma. 

Well, as you say, it's complex work to ensure that all the elements and aspects are dealt with jointly. So, the whole purpose is to ensure that agencies bring their experiences and their perspectives together, and that work, for it to be delivered correctly, takes time, but the intention is for this autumn. 

Diolch. Roedd Estyn, yn eu tystiolaeth ysgrifenedig i ni, wedi codi pryder penodol nad yw pob athro yn ymwybodol o'r dyletswydd adrodd orfodol arnyn nhw ynghylch FGM. Pa sgyrsiau ydych chi wedi cael gydag Estyn yn benodol ar hynny, a pha gamau ydych chi wedi eu cymryd mewn ymateb i'r pryderon yma?

Estyn, in their written evidence to us, did raise a specific concern that not all teachers are aware of the mandatory reporting duty placed on them regarding FGM. What conversations have you had with Estyn about this specific issue, and what action have you taken in response to their concerns?

Mae'r rhifau sy'n cael eu hadrodd yn achosi pryder, onid ydyn nhw, i weld y ffigurau hynny. Fel rŷch chi'n dweud, mae'n rhywbeth mae Estyn wedi'i godi. Mae dyletswyddau cyfreithiol, fel rŷch chi'n dweud—ac maen nhw yn rhai pwysig iawn—ar athrawon i weithredu yn yr amgylchiadau, pan fyddan nhw'n tybio bod plentyn â risg o FGM. Gwnaeth fy rhagflaenydd ysgrifennu at bob ysgol pan oedd hi'n Weinidog i ddwyn hyn at eu sylw nhw, ond byddwn i'n hapus i gael fy swyddogion i drafod ymhellach gydag Estyn beth mwy y gallwn ni wneud yn y maes hwn hefyd.  

The numbers reported cause great concern, don't they, seeing those figures. It is something, as you say, that Estyn has raised. There are legal duties, as you say—and they are very important ones—on teachers to take action where they suspect that a child is at risk of FGM. My predecessor wrote to every school when she was a Minister to draw this to their attention, but I'd be happy for my officials to speak to Estyn to discuss what further we can do in this area. 

Diolch. Ac wedyn, mae'r hyn rŷn ni wedi bod yn ei drafod yn gyffredinol—pa mor gyffredin, yn anffodus, yw trais ar sail rhywedd mewn cymdeithas—wrth gwrs, yn golygu y bydd pob rhiant, pob disgybl, pob aelod o staff, efallai, yn dod ar draws trais sydd wedi'i gyflawni ar sail rhywedd. Felly, pa sicrwydd y gallwch chi ei roi i'r pwyllgor bod gan ysgolion ac adrannau addysg awdurdodau lleol bolisïau priodol i fynd i'r afael â'r materion hyn, ac efallai nid jest y polisïau penodol yna sydd efallai yn gallu bodoli weithiau mewn rhyw fath o seilo, ond yr hyn sy'n mynd ar draws eu polisïau? Fe wnaethon ni glywed gan ein grŵp ymgynghori ni y bore yma ynglŷn â'r drafferth sy'n codi weithiau o ran polisïau mynediad, a'r diffyg dealltwriaeth bod pobl yn gorfod symud eu plant o ran diogelwch, a bod hynny wedyn ddim yn alinio gyda pholisi dalgylch ysgol, gorfod mynd i esbonio hynny, gorfod mynd i fwrdd apêl, gyda phobl sydd efallai heb ddealltwriaeth. Ac rŷn ni wedi clywed, yn anffodus, dystiolaeth nad oes yna lot o gydymdeimlad chwaith gyda'u sefyllfa. Felly, oes yna fodd o fynd i'r afael ar draws polisïau, nid jest cael polisi penodol?

Thank you. Then, what we've been discussing in general—how prevalent, unfortunately, gender-based violence is in society—means that all parents, all pupils, and all members of staff, perhaps, will have encountered gender-based violence. So, what assurances can you give to the committee that schools and local authority education departments have appropriate policies in place to deal with these issues, and maybe not just the specific policies that can exist in some kind of silo, but that which runs across their policies? We heard from our advisory group this morning about the difficulty that arises in terms of access policies, and the lack of understanding that people do have to move their children for safety reasons, and that that doesn't align with the school catchment policy, and they then have to go to appeal boards, where there are people who perhaps don't have an understanding of these issues. And we've unfortunately heard evidence that there is not much sympathy with their situation. So, is it possible to tackle this issue across policies, not just through a specific policy?

Byddai gyda fi ddiddordeb i glywed beth yw casgliadau'r pwyllgor yn sgil beth rŷch chi wedi ei glywed yn hynny o beth, achos mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n clywed y dystiolaeth honno rŷch chi wedi ei chlywed. Mae'r canllawiau rŷn ni'n eu darparu i gyrff llywodraethol, ac i gynghorau lleol, fel roeddwn i'n sôn yn fras gynnau, yn golygu mwy na jest cyd-fynd gyda pholisi; mae ynglŷn â chreu diwylliant ehangach, y math o ddiwylliant rŷch chi'n sôn amdano fe, lle mae pob elfen o'r ysgol yn deall hyn, rili. A dyna beth yw pwrpas y teclyn gwerthuso—yr audit tool—fel bod ysgol yn gallu mynd trwy'r broses hon o ddeall goblygiadau’r math yma o ddiwylliant, a sut maen nhw'n gweithredu. Ond, fel rŷch chi'n dweud, os ydych chi wedi clywed tystiolaeth bod mwy y gallwn ni ei wneud, byddai gyda fi ddiddordeb clywed am hynny hefyd. 

I'd be interested to hear the committee's findings in light of the evidence that you've heard with regard to that, because it's important that we, too, hear the evidence. The guidance that we provide to governing bodies, and to local authorities, as I mentioned briefly earlier, means more than just going ahead with a policy; it's part of a wider culture, as you mentioned, so that, for example, every part of the school understands that. And that is the purpose of the audit tool, so that a school can go through this process of understanding the implications of this sort of culture, and how they act upon that. But, if you have heard evidence that there's more that we can do, I'd be interested to hear about that as well. 

Very good. Altaf Hussain, did you want to ask any further questions on this area?

Hi, Jeremy. It is about social media. Has the Welsh Government made any assessment of the impact social media has on the prevalence of GBV amongst school pupils, and, if so, has there been any uptake in gender-based violence since Twitter—or, as you call it now, X—decided to allow unrestricted access to display it on their platform, in the name of free speech?


I don't have the answer to that last question, though it would be interesting and important to know that for us all, I think, wouldn't it, because I think part of the issue here is the changing, the fast-changing nature of some of the social media that we are all aware of.

Online safety is a critical part of the RSE code and understanding the risks and how to stay safe, and also the responsibilities, actually, of how to behave online in the context of relationships is a fundamental part of that. We identified, a number of years ago, the growing prevalence of online misogyny in particular—we've touched on that obliquely a little today already—and worked together with the Football Association of Wales, for example, to create some online resources. And I went to see some of these being used in a school in the Rhondda, actually, which were around modelling positive behaviour to boys, but also modelling to girls who might be victims how best to respond and to keep themselves safe and how to report. And those resources have been—. There was a campaign that has run over two or three years now, which I think has proved very popular, and I think one of the challenges for us as a Government—all Governments, really—is how do you keep finding ways of refreshing that message perhaps using other voices who, I dare say, maybe even more trusted than the Government and who, certainly, are probably more relatable, in all seriousness. So, I was really pleased with the work that we did there. It involved male and female footballers, so there was a range of messages. So, if the committee hasn't had a chance to see some of that, I'm sure we could share links with the committee; I think it's definitely worth a look. And there's a lot of other work that we've done that is on Hwb that supports learners directly to keep themselves safe online, and describes their responsibilities to them as well.

Isn't it a bit of a losing battle, though, given the recent Panorama programme on the penetration that somebody, a woman hater like Andrew Tate, has on so many young people online?

Chair, if you would find it useful, I could share with you the names of some schools that I think have been responding quite directly to this in some of the work that they've done. I probably shouldn't name them in the committee; I don't want them to—. But I'd be very happy to share that with you, subject to them being happy to talk to you about it. There might be something useful there for you to hear about.

Because it's such a challenging issue, so that'll be very useful information. Thank you. Sioned Williams, back to you.

Diolch, ie. Jest eisiau sôn am addysg uwch ychydig. Mae ffocws wedi bod ar brifysgolion a'r angen i fynd i'r afael â thrais ar sail rhywedd mewn addysg uwch, yn dilyn cyfres o gyhoeddiadau proffil uchel o 2016. Pa mor hyderus ydych chi bod prifysgolion yn cymryd camau digonol i fynd i'r afael â thrais ar sail rhywedd? Oes yna brosesau ar waith i sicrhau bod pob achos o drais, camdriniaeth ac aflonyddu yn cael ei gofnodi a'i fonitro ym mhrifysgolion Cymru?

Thank you, yes. I just wanted to talk about higher education. There has been a focus on universities and the need to tackle gender-based violence in higher education, following a series of high-profile publications from 2016. How confident are you that universities are taking sufficient action to tackle gender-based violence? Are there processes in place to ensure that all cases of violence, abuse and harassment are recorded and monitored in Welsh universities?

Wel, fel byddwch chi'n deall, rŷn ni'n gweithredu trwy HEFCW yn ein perthynas gyda phrifysgolion yn hyn o beth, ac mae'r trefniadau hyn yn rhan gynhennid o'n trefniadau remit sydd gyda ni rhwng y Llywodraeth a HEFCW. Felly, maen nhw, yn sgil hynny, yn gweithio gyda phrifysgolion i godi ymwybyddiaeth o drais yn erbyn menywod a thrais yn y cartref, ond hefyd i ddarparu canllawiau i brifysgolion ar sut i fynd i'r afael â hyn a sut i gefnogi'r sefydliadau. Ac mae ganddyn nhw hefyd drefniadau ar waith sydd yn gofyn, yn mynnu, fod sefydliadau yn adrodd ar hyn, ac unrhyw fethiannau i ddilyn y prosesau, wrth HEFCW, ac mae hwn yn cynnwys VAWDASV. Mae Universities Wales hefyd wedi bod yn gweithio gyda'r sefydliadau ar VAWDASV yn benodol ac wedi cyhoeddi datganiad ar y cyd yn y cyfnod diweddar—dwi ddim yn cofio'r dyddiad—ar beidio â defnyddio cytundebau non-disclosure yng nghyd-destun trais fel hyn. Felly, mae canllawiau priodol gan HEFCW, ac wedyn ymgyrch ymarferol, os hoffwch chi, gan Brifysgolion Cymru hefyd. 

As you understand, we operate through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales in our relationship with universities in this regard, and these arrangements are an integral part of our remit arrangements that we have between the Government and HEFCW. So, as a result of that, they work with universities to raise awareness of violence against women and domestic violence, but also to provide guidance to universities on how to address this and how to support the institutions. And they also have ongoing arrangements that require institutions and organisations to report on this, and any failings in following the processes, to HEFCW, and this includes VAWDASV. Universities Wales also has been working with VAWDASV organisations specifically and have published a joint statement in the recent period—I can't remember the exact date—on not using non-disclosure agreements in the context of violence such as this. So, HEFCW have specific guidance, and there's a practical campaign by Universities Wales as well. 


Diolch. Mae CCAUC wedi dweud wrthym ni fod chwech o wyth prifysgol yng Nghymru wedi neilltuo cyllid ar gyfer ymyriadau penodol gan wylwyr—bystander, yntefe—yn 2022-23, a maen nhw'n mynd i barhau i wneud hynny nawr yn y flwyddyn nesaf, er bod yna gwestiynau a fydd cyllid ar gael y tu hwnt i hynny. Ydych chi'n ymwybodol nad yw dwy brifysgol yng Nghymru wedi ymrwymo i hyn, ac, os felly, ŷch chi'n fodlon eu bod nhw'n darparu ymyriadau eraill i sicrhau bod menywod ifanc sy'n mynychu'r prifysgolion hyn yn ddiogel? 

Thank you. HEFCW has told us that six out of eight universities in Wales have set aside funding for specific bystander interventions in 2022-23, and they'll continue to do so in the next year, although there are questions about whether funding will be available beyond that. Are you aware that two universities in Wales have not committed to this, and, if so, are you satisfied that they are providing other interventions to ensure that young women who attend these universities are safe?  

Ydw, rwyf yn ymwybodol bod dwy brifysgol wedi penderfynu ar ffordd wahanol o ddelifro hyn. Dyna beth sydd wedi digwydd, mewn gwirionedd, ac maen nhw wedi profi'r cynlluniau oedd gyda nhw gyda HEFCW, a HEFCW wedi asesu'r rheini fel rhai digonol, er nid yr union beth roeddech chi'n sôn amdano fe. Mae'r trefniadau, maen nhw'n dweud, yn addas. Mewn un enghraifft, gwnaethon nhw benderfynu newid y ffordd roedden nhw'n delifro fe oherwydd doedd y take-up ddim wedi bod yn grêt yn y ffordd ar-lein o ddelifro fe. Felly, maen nhw wedi bod yn chwilio am ffyrdd amgen o ddelifro fe, ac wedi bod yn recriwtio swyddog trais rhywiol er mwyn gwneud y gwaith yna'n benodol. Ac yn yr enghraifft arall, maen nhw wedi cymryd rhyw fath o whole-university approach, os hoffwch chi, yn cynnwys gweithio gyda mudiadau penodol, mudiadau chwaraeon o fewn y brifysgol, a hyfforddi yn uniongyrchol. Felly, maen nhw hefyd wedi delifro hyn mewn ffyrdd gwahanol, ac mae HEFCW wedi gwerthuso'r ddau gynllun ac wedi dweud bod nhw'n gyson gyda'r disgwyliadau, os hoffwch chi. 

Yes, I am aware that two universities have decided on a different way of delivering this. That's what's happened, in reality, and they have tested the schemes they had with HEFCW, and HEFCW have assessed those as sufficient, although not exactly what you were talking about. They have arrangements that are suitable. In one example, they decided to change the way they were delivering it because the take-up hadn't been great in terms of the online delivery of it. So, they've been seeking alternative means of delivering it, and have been recruiting a sexual violence officer to do that work specifically. And in the other example, they've been taking a whole-university approach, including working with specific organisations, sports organisations within the university, and direct training. So, they have also delivered this in a different way, but HEFCW have evaluated the two schemes and have said that they are consistent with the expectations, if you like. 

Iawn. Fe glywon ni gan Dr Rachel Fenton o Brifysgol Caerwysg a oedd wedi datblygu pecyn cymorth menter ymyrraeth ar gyfer prifysgolion, ac fe wnaeth hi ddweud ei fod e'n ymyrraeth effeithiol iawn; mae hyn yn seiliedig ar dystiolaeth. Ond mae CCAUC wedi dweud wrthym ni nad oes yr un o'r prifysgolion yng Nghymru yn gweithredu'r fenter arbennig yma, gan ddweud nad yw'n ymddangos hefyd fod cyfeiriad ati hi ar wefan Iechyd Cyhoeddus Cymru. Ydych chi'n ymwybodol o hyn? Oes yna rywbeth sydd jest wedi cael ei anghofio fan hyn? 

Fine. We heard from Dr Rachel Fenton from the University of Exeter who had developed the intervention initiative toolkit for universities, and she said that it was an effective evidence-based intervention. But HEFCW says that none of the universities in Wales are implementing this particular initiative, stating that it doesn't appear to be referenced either on the Public Health Wales website. Are you aware of this? Has something just been overlooked here?  

Yr ateb gonest yw 'dwi ddim yn gwybod'. Fyddwn i fy hunan ddim yn awyddus i fod yn gorfodi ynglŷn â pa hyfforddiant, pa becyn penodol. Dwi ddim yn gwybod y pecyn rŷch chi'n sôn amdano, felly dwi ddim am wneud sylw ar hwnnw o gwbl. Gwnaf i edrych mewn i'r pecyn i weld a oes diffyg ymwybyddiaeth, ond ar ddiwedd y dydd y peth pwysig yw bod yr allbwn yn weithredol ac yn effeithiol. Felly, efallai fod mwy nag un ffordd o gyrraedd y nod hwnnw. Ond rwy'n hapus iawn i edrych ar y rhaglen rŷch chi wedi sôn amdani yn benodol. 

The honest answer is 'I don't know'. Myself, I wouldn't be keen to enforce what sort of training package should be used. I'm not au fait with the package that you're talking about, so I won't comment on that. I will look into the package to see if there's a lack of awareness, but at the end of the day the important thing is that the output is active and effective. So, perhaps there's more than one way of reaching that aim. But I am happy to look at the scheme you were discussing specifically. 

Diolch. Diolch, Cadeirydd. 

Thank you. Thank you, Chair. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Prynhawn da i chi. Dwi eisiau jest gofyn un cwestiwn ar y maes diogelu mewn ysgolion neu addysg. Pa mor hyderus ydych chi fel Gweinidog yn y prosesau a'r systemau yn y maes diogelu mewn ysgolion ac mewn addysg? Rydyn ni wedi gofyn yr un cwestiwn i'r Gweinidogion iechyd hefyd. 

Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I want to ask one question in terms of safeguarding in schools or education generally. How confident are you as a Minister in the processes and systems in terms of safeguarding in schools and in education more generally? We've asked the same question to the health Ministers as well.  

Wel, mae cymysgedd o ddau beth, onid oes: hynny yw, rhoi canllawiau clir—mae'r anghenion cyfreithiol yn eu lle—ond hefyd, yn fwy na hynny, rhoi'r arfau a'r teclynnau yn nwylo ysgolion fel eu bod nhw'n gallu gweithredu'r dyletswyddau cyfreithiol yw'r peth ymarferol. Felly, y canllawiau statudol rŷm ni'n eu darparu, dyna fwriad rhoi'r rheini yn eu lle, ac mae'r gwaith pwysig mae Estyn yn gwneud hefyd wedyn i werthuso a ydy diwylliant yr ysgol yn un sydd yn blaenoriaethu safeguarding, ynghyd â glynu at y gofynion rheoleiddiol. Rwy'n credu bod hynny yn rhoi sicrwydd i ni fod unrhyw issues yn gallu cael eu hamlygu pan fyddan nhw'n codi o bryd i'w gilydd, ac mae hynny wir yn bwysig, ein bod ni'n cydnabod pan fo hynny yn digwydd, fel ein bod ni'n gallu ymateb iddyn nhw.   

Well, there is a mixture of two things: giving clear guidance—there are legal requirements in place—but also, more than that, putting the tools in place for schools to be able to implement their legal duties is the practical thing. So, the statutory guidance that we provide, that's the intention of putting that in place, and then there's the important work that Estyn is doing in evaluating whether the culture of the school is one that prioritises safeguarding, as well as adheres to the regulatory requirements. I think that provides us with assurances that any issues can be highlighted when they arise from time to time, and it's really important that we acknowledge when that happens, so that we can respond to them. 

Felly, ydych chi'n teimlo'n hyderus neu ddim, neu'n hanner hyderus? Lle ydych chi fel Gweinidog? 

So, are you confident or not, or half and half? Where are you as a Minister? 

Rwy'n credu bod y systemau sydd gyda ni yn rhoi hyder i ni fod ysgolion yn deall eu goblygiadau, a bod y cymorth yn ei le fel eu bod nhw'n gallu cyrraedd y nod. 

I think the systems we have provide us with the confidence that schools understand their obligations, and that the support is there for them to achieve their aims. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Un o'r pethau roeddem ni'n ei glywed y bore yma oedd bod athrawon a phobl sy'n gweithio mewn ysgolion yn cael amser i ddelio efo'r effeithiau emosiynol, er enghraifft, pan fyddan nhw'n clywed am bethau ofnadwy fel trais yn erbyn menywod. Beth ydy'ch barn chi? Lle ydych chi ar hynny? Ydy hyn yn digwydd yn ein hysgolion, yn eich profiad chi?

Thank you. One of the things we heard this morning was that teachers and people who work in schools are having time to deal with the emotional impacts, for example, when they hear about instances of violence against women. What's your opinion on that? Where are you on that? Is that happening in schools, in your experience?


Rŷn ni wedi cynyddu’r ddarpariaeth sydd ar gael i gefnogi llesiant y gweithlu addysg yn gyffredinol, ac athrawon yn benodol, fel bod cyngor ar gael—cyngor cyffredinol ar-lein, ond hefyd ddarpariaeth unigol i gael cyngor dros y ffôn os oes gan rywun rhywbeth maen nhw’n poeni amdano fe yn sgil trais, neu achos arall, ond mae’n cynnwys trais yn sicr. Mae’r ddarpariaeth yna wedi ehangu ein gallu ni i gyrraedd mwy o ysgolion. Maen nhw hefyd yn cynnig pecyn o gefnogaeth benodol i ysgolion sydd yn galluogi’r pennaeth i gydweithio gyda mudiadau i ddylunio rhaglen sydd yn bwrpasol ar gyfer yr ysgol er mwyn cefnogi llesiant athrawon yn gyffredinol. Felly, rŷn ni’n chwilio am ffordd o gefnogi’r proffesiwn i ddelio gyda sefyllfaoedd anodd. Y whole-school approach i iechyd meddwl a llesiant, hefyd, mae elfen o hwnnw, wrth gwrs, i hyfforddi athrawon ar sut i ymateb a sut i ddelio gyda’r hyn maen nhw’n ei glywed, achos, fel roeddech chi’n ei ddweud, mae hynny yn gallu bod yn un o’r heriau mwyaf.

We have increased the provision that’s available to improve the well-being of the education workforce, and teachers specifically, so that advice is available—general advice online, but also individual provision to have advice over the phone if an individual is worried about something as a result of violence, or something else, but it includes violence, certainly. And that provision had expanded our reach to more schools. It also includes a specific package of support to schools that enables the head to work with agencies to draw together a programme that is for the school specifically, and to improve the well-being of teachers. So, we are looking at ways of supporting the profession to deal with difficult situations. The whole-school approach to mental health and well-being, of course, there is an element there to train teachers on how to respond and deal with what they’re hearing, because, as you say, that can be one of the greatest challenges.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Rydym ni wedi clywed disgrifiad o’r sefyllfa efo trais yn erbyn menywod a genethod fel pandemig, ac un o’r pethau rydym ni eisiau edrych arno fel pwyllgor ydy sut mae pobl yn cydweithio efo’i gilydd ar draws y Llywodraeth. Gaf i ofyn i chi sut ydych chi’n cydweithio efo’r Gweinidog iechyd a’r Gweinidog sy’n gyfrifol am hyn? Sut ydych chi’n cydweithio?

Thank you very much. We’ve heard a description of the situation with violence against women and girls as a pandemic, and one of the things that we want to look at as a committee is how people collaborate and co-operate across the Government. Could I ask you how you collaborate with the Minister for health and the Minister responsible for this area? How do you collaborate with them?

Wel, y ddwy brif berthynas efallai y byddai gyda fi yn y maes hwn yw'r un gyda Jane Hutt, gwnes i sôn amdani hi yn gynharach, a’r ail un, sy’n uniongyrchol ar hyn a’r gwaith roeddwn i’n sôn amdano fe jest nawr, y whole-school approach i iechyd meddwl a llesiant, a hefyd y gwaith mae’r rhaglen roeddwn i’n sôn amdani hi yn gynharach, pan fo’r heddlu yn mynd i ysgolion i sôn am drais yn erbyn menywod, yw'r berthynas gyda Lynne Neagle, ac rŷn ni’n cydweithio yn agos iawn. Rŷn ni’n cyd-gadeirio’r grŵp sydd yn edrych ar yr issues yma ar draws ysgolion, ar draws y system addysg yn gyffredinol, ac mae ein cyllidebau ni’n dod ynghyd i ariannu hynny. Felly, mae’r cydweithio, byddwn i’n dweud, yn agos iawn rhyngom ni.

Well, the two main relationships I would have in this area are with Jane Hutt, as I mentioned earlier, and the second, which is directly on this and the work that we were just discussing, the whole-school approach to mental health and well-being, and also the work of the programme I was talking about earlier, where police go into schools to talk about violence against women, is the relationship with Lynne Neagle, and we collaborate closely. We jointly chair the group that is looking at these issues across schools and across the education system in general, and our budgets come together to fund that. So, the collaboration, I would say, is very close between us.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Gadeirydd.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Chair.

Okay. I think one last question I have around the challenges for schools is that we've had members of a gender-based violence advisory group who say it's extremely difficult to get counselling or get mental health services for children who've witnessed domestic violence or have experienced it themselves, but there's a real dilemma for schools in giving access. Enabling children to access counselling is obviously one really excellent way of helping with the problem, but once you start referring children to mental health services then there are consequences in terms of the record, that an individual child is being labelled with a particular thing, which can be very difficult and have future consequences for their professional careers, et cetera. I just wondered how well we're ensuring that children are getting the service they need to address trauma in their lives. 

I think putting it in the context of trauma is very important, and Lynne Neagle, who leads on the mental health aspects, of course, as you know, has encouraged a number of Ministers—and I've done this myself—to undertake attachment training and trauma-informed practice training to understand the implications from a policy point of view of some of the complexities that the committee's work is going to illustrate, I think. From a school's point of view, clearly the most important thing is that the young person gets the support that's appropriate for their circumstances and meets their needs, needless to say, and for some that will be counselling, but for many others it won't be that. In particular, if you look at younger children perhaps, maybe that isn't appropriate and there are other things in the nurture space that can provide supportive contexts for that child's needs to be met. So, I think it's about identifying—. The whole-school approach to mental health and well-being has a range of interventions. It isn't just about counselling. I mean, we've massively expanded counselling availability, but you will know, as I'm sure others will, that there's a lot of demand for that as well. But the framework for that will show that there's a range of interventions that we are supporting, and I think the point that you make is really important, that the support that the young person might need—you know, we ought not to be medicalising that relationship unless that is the appropriate thing for that particular young person. So, one has to be very, very mindful of that, I think, for the reasons that you give. But I do think the framework approach that we have, and the other interventions that support the strategy, are a much more varied range of initiatives. 


Very good. I think Ken Skates wanted to come in on that. 

Thank you, Chair. Yes, on that very point, I'm sure you won't be aware of the programme, but there's a fascinating programme that's operating in Flintshire, focused at Ysgol Bryn Coch, called Y Berllan, and basically it offers support to any young person at that primary school or cluster schools, with access to fully trained counsellors. We've heard on a number of occasions that counselling isn't always appropriate for young people, but the very presence of trained counsellors, professionals, on site has proven to be hugely valuable in terms of outcomes. I'd be incredibly grateful if officials within the education department flagged this up to the Deputy Minister for mental health, but whether officials in the education department could take a look at that programme and provide some observations to the committee on it—. Thank you. 

I'm happy to follow up on that. Thank you for that. 

Very good. And just a final question from me, which is, really, what role your officials play on the national VAWDASV programme board, and the six different work streams that they have got going on this, what is a pandemic, really, of gender-based violence, obviously further aggravated by the cost of living and poverty that goes with it.

So, there's a range of ways in which the structure brings officials together. So, at the director general level, the director general for my division is also the director general for the social justice division, so it's one person that does both—it's a conjoined function in that sense, and she sits on the national partnership board. Then there's a senior education official who sits on the children and young people work stream, which obviously focuses on education, and, in addition to that, the work that is about to be undertaken, which is a review of the national indicators, the preliminary mapping aspect of that is about how we can make sure that we are properly able to evaluate it, that we know what 'good' looks like, if you know what I mean. And part of that work—. Well, education officials are feeding into how we describe the outputs that we want, and, when we get to the next stage, they'll be involved in that as well. So there's close working. Education's a critical component for delivering our broader VAWDASV objectives as a Government, so that close working is very evident between officials, I think.

Very good. Is that a legacy hand, Ken, or—? Very good. If there are no further questions, I'd thank the Minister and his officials for coming in this afternoon. We'll obviously send you a transcript that you can correct to make sure that it accurately reflects your views and what is going on in your department. 

6. Papurau i'w nodi
6. Papers to note

There are now very large numbers of papers to note as a result of the recess. So, 24 items of correspondence to note. Are Members content to note them so that we can pick them up in our work? You wanted to pick up on one issue. 

There are a few that I would like to comment on, but maybe I can do that later. 

Well, you're welcome to do some of them in public if you wish to, and then, obviously, we can pick anything up. 

I'm very happy to do that. Firstly, it's in regard to 6.3, which is the response from the Minister for Social Justice with regard to speech and language therapy, and the disappointing response that she feels she cannot write she cannot write to youth justice boards because it's non-devolved. And I wondered if the committee would consider requesting knowing the reasons why it wasn't possible, apart from it being a reserved matter, because, obviously, youth justice boards are jointly funded—they are not just solely funded by the UK Government, they're funded by Welsh Government funds. So, this is with regards to the good practice we saw at Neath Port Talbot, and it feels like we're missing an opportunity if we don't do that. Thank you.


Okay. It would certainly be possible to follow up that letter and challenge that.

Thank you, Chair. I'm afraid there are two others, if I may, as well, please. Item 6.20, which is the response from the Minister for Climate Change with regards to the new Warm Homes programme and the timetable. I was a little bit confused—I don't know if it was just me—reading that, but both the contract award and the mobilisation are timetabled for the end of November. And given that we've seen a lot of slippage in this, I was just a little bit concerned that maybe there'd been a mix-up there, but it really feels like we should just stay on top of that, if that's okay, Chair.

Thank you. And my final one, sorry, is with regards to 6.9, which is the police's response to this particular issue. I just wonder if we could move part of the responses to a discussion that maybe we'll be having in the next part, around perpetrator programmes.

Very good. Yes. That's certainly something we can pick up with the Minister for Social Justice in our interviews next week.

If there are no further comments, if we can note all those papers and move back into private session.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:21.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:21.