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Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee

05/03/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dawn Bowden AM
Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Lynne Neagle AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Sian Gwenllian AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

David Hopkins Pennaeth Addysg Dros Dro, Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru
Interim Head of Education, Welsh Local Government Association
Dr Ian Johnson Rheolwr, Iechyd Meddwl Plant a Phobl Ifanc, Mind Cymru
Manager, Children and Young People's Mental Health, Mind Cymru
Liz Williams Swyddog Polisi a Chyfathrebu, y Samariaid
Policy and Communications Officer, Samaritans
Nick Williams Cyfarwyddwr Addysg, Cyngor Dinas a Sir Abertawe ac yn cynrychioli Cymdeithas Cyfarwyddwyr Addysg Cymru
Director of Education, Swansea City and County Council and representing Association of Directors of Education in Wales
Sarah Stone Cyfarwyddwr Gweithredol Cymru, y Samariaid
Executive Director Wales, Samaritans
Sharon Davies Pennaeth Dysgu, Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Torfaen ac yn cynrychioli Cymdeithas Cyfarwyddwyr Addysg Cymru
Head of Learning, Torfaen County Borough Council and representing Association of Directors of Education in Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Sian Hughes Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Tanwen Summers Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Okay, good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Children, Young People and Education Committee this morning. I've received apologies for absence from Suzy Davies and Hefin David, and we've got no substitutions. Can I ask if Members have any declarations of interest? Can I just, then, declare for the record that I chair the cross-party group on suicide prevention and that Samaritans Cymru, who are appearing before us later, provide the secretariat for that group, just for that to be on the record?

2. Addysg Heblaw yn yr Ysgol: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 5
2. Education Otherwise than at School: Evidence Session 5

Item 2, then, is an evidence session for our inquiry on education otherwise than at school, and I'm very pleased to welcome our panel of witnesses this morning: Sharon Davies, head of learning, Torfaen County Borough Council and representing the Association of Directors of Education in Wales; Nick Williams, director of education, Swansea city and county council, and representing the Association of Directors of Education in Wales; and David Hopkins, interim head of education at the Welsh Local Government Association. Thank you very much, all of you, for attending. We've got a lot of ground we'd like to cover, so we'll go straight into questions, if that's okay. And if I can just start by asking you what you believe the main reasons are for the increase in the number of exclusions from school.

I'll start, if that's okay. I think one of the things we're experiencing across the system in Wales is more examples of very challenging behaviour. I think the prevalence of ASD—autism spectrum disorder—and trying to get the learners the right provision is sometimes a challenge. Obviously, I can speak more about my own local authority in Swansea: the numbers have increased about fourfold over the last five, six years, so what's presenting as difficult behaviour can also sometimes be additional learning needs as well, and the system's struggling a little bit to catch up to have enough capacity to do that, so that is placing pressure on schools and then, in turn, pressure on the EOTAS, including our pupil referral units, because, obviously, we just probably haven't got enough capacity at the moment in the system.

No, I think that's what we're seeing in Torfaen as well. I'd second that.

Okay. So, to what extent, then, do local authorities have clear strategies for support and reintegration, and a continuum of provision to meet the needs of learners who are either at risk of exclusion, or disengagement?

Well, we've just developed a behaviour and well-being strategy, which, with our schools—and I'm aware, because I work in the south-west and mid Wales region, and I know some of the other local authorities have something similar, and, similarly, I chair the EOTAS network across Wales, and I know many local authorities are going in that direction, so that has a tiered approach, or staged approach, or whichever, so that there's universal provision. I think it's something that—you know, we need to make sure that our staff and our schools are well-equipped to meet these needs, but there will always, unfortunately, be some learners who need more specialist provision. So, it's equipping them with those sorts of skills, really. I think it's certainly moved forward from where we were two of three years ago. But there's a little bit of lag in the system, trying to bring everybody up to the same, consistent level. But I think work is afoot in nearly all local authorities, as far as I'm aware.

Okay. In terms of school accountability measures, do you think that they have had an impact on the rise in exclusions?

When we're looking at the accountabilities, there's a huge amount of pressures on schools to perform, and I think the whole culture that the schools are within does play an element of it to some—. There is a shift in that culture. We are seeing a change with the interim measures coming on board, but I think there's going to be a lag in the system before we see that having a knock-on effect on our learners, because, undoubtedly, there are pressures on schools.

So, you've seen an improvement since the capped 9 has been brought in?

I think it's early to say, but certainly we're working towards that improvement. I can only speak for Torfaen—we've been working really hard on our exclusions and working with our schools to ensure that the curriculum is broad and balanced, and accounts for every learner within the system. 

09:35

Gaf i ateb hwn yn Gymraeg?

May I answer this in Welsh?

Mae'r negeseuon y mae'r Llywodraeth yn eu rhoi a'r negeseuon dŷn ni fel cyfarwyddwyr ac fel cynghorau yn eu rhoi i ysgolion yn bwysig hefyd. So, dŷn ni wastad yn dweud wrthyn nhw mai cynnydd y plant sy'n bwysig yn y dyfodol, dim jest cyrraedd i fyny i'r un mesur. So, mae'n fwy cymhleth na hynny, ac maen bwysig i rannu hwnna. A chwarae teg i Estyn—mae Estyn wedi newid eu meddwl hefyd. So, mae negeseuon fel yna yn mynd allan rŵan, a dwi'n meddwl bod yr ysgolion yn deall, rŵan, y disgwyliad arnyn nhw. 

The messages that the Government is conveying to us and the messages we convey as directors and councils are important as well. So, we always tell them that it's the progression of the children in the future that's important, not just reaching up to the level. So, it's more complex than that, and it's important to share that. And in fairness to Estyn—Estyn has changed its mind as well. So, messages such as those are being conveyed now, and I think that the schools do understand now the expectation and what's expected of them. 

Okay. In terms of parents, what are local authorities doing to actually engage parents of children and young people who are either EOTAS or at risk of becoming EOTAS?

I'll answer this in English. Again, I know perhaps Swansea and Neath Port Talbot—we have a team-around-the-family approach. So, as you say, it's more complicated than just the child behaving in a certain way, or being school-anxious, whatever the issue is. So, it's sort of bringing all of the agencies together to try and look at how we can proactively solve problems and support the families. Because nearly always, the behaviours that are demonstrated, or come out in schools, or whatever provision, is obviously probably greater in the home environment, so there's a whole—. We understand the complexities and the need for a whole-family, almost, approach to support. 

And do you think that all local authorities have got that understanding across Wales? 

I would say the majority have.

Yes, it's quite common practice. As Nick mentioned, it is about that multi-agency approach—it is working with social care, working with health colleagues, to look at the whole package that goes into these families and to our learners. 

Certainly with schools, I know across Wales we've done a lot of training on adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed practice, so at least people can perhaps better understand some of the reasons why this behaviour is coming through, whereas in the past—I'm thinking myself, now, as a teacher—they were just difficult behaviours. I didn't really know the background to possibly why those behaviours were coming through. So, I think we are more informed as a profession. 

Okay, thank you. We've got some questions now on funding from Siân Gwenllian. 

Gaf i ddechrau efo cwestiwn cyffredinol ynglŷn â—? Rydyn ni i gyd yn ymwybodol o'r problemau cyllido a'r heriau cyllido sydd yn wynebu ysgolion yn gyffredinol. Ydy hyn yn gallu arwain at fwy o waharddiadau oherwydd bod anghenion dysgu ychwanegol, efallai, yn cael eu taro yn sgil yr heriau, ac wedyn bod sgileffaith hynny wedyn yn creu mwy o waharddiadau?

May I begin, maybe, with a question, generally speaking—? We're all aware of the funding issues and the challenges of funding that face schools in general. So, can this lead to more exclusions, because additional learning needs have been hit in light of these challenges, and then that the side-effects of that creates more exclusions? 

Yn enwedig nawr gyda'r Act newydd yn dod mewn, mae hwnna yn mynd i ddodi rhagor o pressure ar y system. Ac yn Nhorfaen yn unig, rŷn ni'n gwybod bod yr ysgolion gyda ni yn edrych ar eu cyllid—maen nhw y tu ôl ac maen nhw'n gorfod gwneud y dewisiadau caled hefyd. Ac weithiau, maen nhw'n gorfod edrych ar bob agwedd, wedyn, o fewn yr ysgol, ynglŷn â'u dysgwyr, ac mae hwnna'n dodi pressure arall ar yr ysgolion.

In particular now with the new Act coming into force, that's going to place more pressure on the system. In Torfaen, we know that we have schools that are looking at their funding—they are behind, and they have to make these hard choices. And sometimes, they have to look at every aspect within the school in terms of their learners, then, and that does place additional pressure on the schools. 

Ac ydy'r sector anghenion dysgu ychwanegol yn cael ei effeithio'n waeth na—?

Is the additional learning needs sector being adversely affected, worse than—? 

Dwi ddim yn gwybod a yw'n cael ei effeithio'n waeth, ond dwi'n credu bod yna pressure, yn enwedig gyda'r Act newydd, y Ddeddf newydd yn dod i mewn hefyd—mae hwnna'n mynd i roi mwy o pressure ar y system. 

I'm not sure whether it's being worse affected, but certainly there's pressure, in particular with the new Act coming in, and that's going to place more pressure on the system. 

Ond mae angen gwario mwy, efallai, yn sgil yr Act newydd, oes? 

But maybe we need to spend more in light of the new Act? 

Oes. 

Yes. 

Oes, yn bendant. 

Yes, certainly. 

Beth ydy'ch profiad chi, wedyn?

What is your experience, then? 

Yr un fath, rili. Ond jest weithiau, dyw'r Llywodraeth ddim yn meddwl am y staff yn y pupil referral units, oherwydd dŷn ni wedi mynd yn ôl at y Llywodraeth i ddweud, 'Wel, iawn, dŷch chi wedi rhoi arian i ni i staff ysgolion, ond beth am staff sydd angen hyfforddiant—hwyrach yn fwy na staff yn y sector ysgolion?' Chwarae teg, maen nhw wedi ateb hwnna ond, hwyrach, dyw e ddim ar flaen eu meddwl pan maen nhw'n meddwl am rhoi arian allan i'r ysgolion. Mae'n ychydig bach o afterthought. Ond bydd ei eisiau yn y dyfodol, yn bendant.

The same, really. But just sometimes, the Government doesn't think about the staff in the pupil referral units, because we've gone back to the Government to tell them, 'Right, you've provided money to school staff, but what about staff that need training—perhaps more than staff in the school sector?' And in fairness, they have addressed that, but perhaps it's not at the forefront of their minds when they're thinking of providing funding to the schools. So, it's a little bit of an afterthought. But this will be needed in the future, certainly.

09:40

Ac efallai fedraf i ofyn wrth y WLGA: ydy'r gwahaniaeth yma sydd yn gallu digwydd rhwng yr arian sydd yn cael ei gadw'n ôl gan yr awdurdod lleol a'r cyllid sydd yn mynd i ysgolion—ydy hynny yn gallu effeithio ar y math o ddarpariaeth sydd yn digwydd o awdurdod i awdurdod?

And maybe I can ask the WLGA: are the difficulties that can arise between the money that is kept back by local authorities and the funding that goes directly to schools—can that therefore affect the kind of provision that's happening from authority to authority?

Yes, sure. The delegation levels are already very high in most authority areas, and we've got agreements in place with the Government to make sure that more money, or as much money as possible, is devolved to schools. So, I don't think that's a direct factor. I think the factors that really affect exclusions, which is where I think the question came from: you've got the very narrow measure at the end of key stage 4 attainment, which I think has put pressure on some schools, certainly, and headteachers have felt that—sometimes excluded, or otherwise put into another school as a consequence, which is regrettable, but that's what's happened.

And on the additional learning needs side, whilst the Minister has currently made some more money available, if we look at experiences that have happened in England, in particular, because there are direct parallels there with legislation, we know from those experiences that ALN funding has become increasingly under pressure—there have been big issues around tribunals, to the point where local authorities at one point almost gave up going to tribunals, because they were losing them time and time again. So, there are financial pressures there, but I don't think the levels of delegation have any impact on that.

Okay. But just the pressures coming in with the new Act et cetera could mean more expulsions.

It shouldn't, but it could. It's difficult to know how headteachers and governing bodies will react. If they're under pressure financially or in terms of performance measures, they will react in a particular way. Culturally, we've got to get to the point, I think, particularly with the new curriculum coming in, where we say, 'Look, forget the narrow measures that you're being judged by. We're trying to agree with partners, including Estyn and the Welsh Government, a broader range of measures.' That, in a sense, may provide opportunities for schools, and local authorities, to look more constructively at this whole area. So, that's one area, but you're right, I think the ALN legislation will put pressures on, not just local authorities and schools, but also on the post-16 sector, because we're talking now about a wider age range—doing up to 25 as well. So, we've got a host of issues, I think, there to consider and work our way through.

Ac ydy'r elfen hefyd fod yna amrywiad o dymor i dymor, neu o wythnos i wythnos weithiau bron, onid oes, yn y lefel o ddarpariaeth y mae ysgol yn mynd i orfod rhoi ar gyfer ceisio cadw'r plant yn yr ysgol, mewn gwirionedd— ydy'r ffaith bod yna gymaint o amrywiaeth yn creu her benodol, ac efallai bod hynny yn arwain at fwy o waharddiadau?

And is the fact that there's variation from term to term, from week to week sometimes, in the level of provision that a school is going to have to provide for trying to retain those pupils in mainstream schools—is the fact that there is so much variation creating a specific challenge, and maybe that that leads to more exclusions?

Fel rŷch chi'n dweud, achos ei fod yn newid, mae'n galed wedyn i blanio ymlaen o flwyddyn i flwyddyn a hefyd, fel rŷch chi'n dweud, o fewn y tymor. Efallai fod darpariaeth gyda chi, ond efallai fod rhagor o ddysgwyr yn dod i mewn neu'n symud, ac felly hwnna sy'n achosi'r pressure yn y system wedyn, oherwydd dŷch chi ddim wedi planio amdanyn nhw, ac felly does dim arian sbâr wedyn i dynnu mewn.

As you say, because it changes, it's difficult then to plan ahead, and from year to year and also, as you've said, within the term. Perhaps you have provision for more learners coming in or moving, and then that causes the pressure within the system, then, because you haven't planned for them, and therefore there's no spare funding there to draw on. 

Chwarae teg i'r PRUs hefyd, dŷn ni wedi bod yn gweithio ar y ffaith, os yw plant yn symud allan o'r ysgol, mae arian yn mynd efo nhw, yn eu dilyn nhw. Dŷn ni ddim eisiau bod yna lag yn y system, achos mae'n rhaid iddyn nhw ateb her y plant, ond mae'r arian yn dal yn yr ysgol, oherwydd unwaith y flwyddyn maen nhw'n cael cyllid.

Also, in fairness to PRUs, we've been trying to work on the fact that, if children move out of school, the funding follows them. We don't want a lag in the system, because they have to meet the challenge of the pupils, but the money is still in the schools, because it's once a year that they have that funding.

Ocê, diolch.

Okay, thank you.

Okay, thank you. We've got some questions now from Janet Finch-Saunders.

Thank you, Chair. What more can be done, and by whom, to support collaborative working between schools, PRUs and local authorities to ensure that there is a continuum of provision and support for learners?

09:45

Well, one of the things I think that has improved a lot is the networking within the PRU sector. We meet on a regular basis, and that's nationally. And the EOTAS group meets regionally as well. So, there's definitely a better sharing of practice. We put on some very, very good conferences as one form of professional learning. But it's also important—. And we're talking about professional learning for any teacher or provider, or it's sometimes the more informal training they receive by making visits, joint visits, to provision and also using the expertise that we do have within the sector to work more closely with our schools, and vice versa, particularly around the curriculum. And I think this is the opportunity the new curriculum provides, providing our staff have the funding to do that and the opportunities we need to be creating around that as well. But in the past, there might well have been some staff who perhaps hadn't had those school experiences and vice versa.

Can I just ask you about transition arrangements, because I know some of the issues that have arisen in my own constituency is when a pupil is in a PRU and then trying to get back into mainstream education? It isn't a clear, sort of, going from one to the other—sometimes a child can find themselves at home because they're not able to get back into the school setting, the main school setting. How are you addressing that?

Well, again, I can only speak for ourselves. We've had a big investment of time, and there will be money and through band B, we're building a brand-new PRU provision in Swansea, which will be open in January 2021. So, we've recognised that, so that we have our staff working very closely with the schools. There's an integration through a part-time timetable back into school, and we continue to support them during that process. But then, when they're back in school, that support doesn't stop—that support continues, and then there's a managed reduction in that support. And that's proven very successful.

But I'll be honest with you, the more challenging your learners are the ones who are coming to the end of their statutory education, your key stage 4. It is far, far more difficult when they're 15, 16 to get them back into mainstream. So, then you're looking more at how you transit, then, into further education and colleges and so on.

Just before we move on, have you got anything to add, Sharon, in terms of—? Because, obviously, we've had the Swansea perspective. I mean, how effective are Torfaen at reintegrating young people into mainstream education?

As Nick said, it does get more difficult at key stage 4, and it's working, then, with—. It comes back to that team-around-the-family approach, to ensure what is needed for that learner to go back into school, what can the school provide. It's looking at the whole package of support, then, that surrounds not just the learner but the family, whether it's transport—it's looking at the whole agenda, then, to ensure that everything is in place for that learner to go back to school, where it's possible.

I think, Chair, at least one authority is looking at how they can best retain all pupils in the school setting, but it's early days yet for looking at that. I mean, that's an ideal, obviously, but it does mean looking at your funding constructively and carefully, and it brings—. The principle is fine, but it does bring a host of other issues with it, if you see what I mean. But it's certainly a model worth looking at. It's been tried elsewhere, and we keep an eye on that, but we don't really know what the outcomes have been long term with that.

I don't think I'm allowed to say at this point.

Oh, okay. And where is it being tried elsewhere? In England, is it?

Oxfordshire.

A few years ago, I used to be a primary headteacher in England, so we were looking at different models, then, at various conferences, and I believe Oxford, as a local authority—they had a PRU, and they had discussions with their secondary schools, then, whether to get rid of the PRU, as such, and give the money back into schools. But they looked at a partnership within the schools, then, to say, 'Okay, you can have the money, but there's got to be terms of reference'—not quite a service level agreement, but the schools worked together as a partnership, then, so that they couldn't keep moving the children around, the learners around. It's looking at how well that worked. It started off really well, but that was a few years ago, so I don't know whether it's continued now. But that was a model that, at the time, that local authority looked at to get more money into schools and to get schools, then, to have that responsibility—that they didn't offload the learners elsewhere.

09:50

Yes, sorry. We do something similar in Swansea. We've operated this now for almost three years, where we devolve—the word is 'devolve', as opposed to 'delegate'—the money to secondary schools to try and give them some extra resource to manage the process, and they have to produce an action plan, which we monitor, about how they're using that funding. But, obviously, we recognise that—and it's back to your original question, the first question—we still have learners, unfortunately, despite pretty effective support and provision in nearly all our schools, because of the very, very challenging behaviour we're experiencing, who do need additional and bespoke support, which in fairness the school can't provide. So, it's a mixed economy, if you like, in Swansea.

Thank you. So, in your view, though, what are the reasons for the delays that some children experience in accessing EOTAS provision?

Sorry. Capacity: we just haven't got enough spaces in some cases, some year groups and so on. Obviously, given what I've said as well, and I'm sure it'd be the same for all local authorities, we've got to have robust systems and panels and so on to make sure that everything possible has been done to meet the needs of the learner in their home provision, if you like, the home school. So, there might be a time period when the learners are on a part-time timetable, which isn't ideal, I accept, but again, it's working with the families and the youngsters.

Also, for us as well we've reinvigorated our managed move provision and discussion. We have somebody who oversees that and works very closely with our secondary schools so that we give almost a second chance to learners. Sometimes, it works really well; sometimes, the learner turns around and says, 'Actually, I preferred it in my old school.' So, there's a cooling-off period as well. I think the learner voice is very important there, because—. We've got to have a package, I think, that is quite wide in its offer.

Okay. What would be the advantages or disadvantages, then, of local authorities having commissioning frameworks for providers, and for EOTAS providers to have approved status?

Obviously, we do do that, but we're struggling sometimes for additional provision—very important around safeguarding. However, we don't want to make it too difficult, so that we haven't got any providers coming forward either. So, it's a little bit of a balancing act. But, first and foremost, safeguarding is at the forefront of our thinking.

But I think, then, we need to perhaps think about how the staff in that sort of additional provision—what sort of training and support they have. At the moment, that is a struggle for us, because we're managing those pressures in our own provision whilst we go out and observe through a provision framework to make sure that the provision is—. But, to actually offer some additional training is a challenge.

Okay, thank you. To what extent do local authorities know about the level of EOTAS provision that is organised by individual schools, whether in an FE college or otherwise off the school site?

I can only speak for Swansea. We know, as part of that plan that we ask our schools to send in, they have to put down where that provision is. And obviously, as part of the visits, as well, to the schools by the challenge advisers, the school should be monitoring that provision and quality assuring that provision.

And how is safeguarding monitored in terms of privately run EOTAS? Independent.

The schools would have to make sure that—

Yes, because schools do take safeguarding very, very seriously. They see the importance of it. It's their prime driver in many ways.

09:55

Okay. And is there a role for local authorities in quality assuring, monitoring or evaluating the EOTAS provision organised by individual schools?

Yes, but a lot of the additional provision is provision we also use, in our experience. So, if it's MTP or something through the college, like a mechanics course or something like that, we're probably using it ourselves. So, it is quality assured, if you like, by two sides. 

In Torfaen, our secondary schools have set out their own TCP—Torfaen curriculum panel—which looks at alternative provision. So, you've got senior leaders there who attend those meetings. The meetings are facilitated and they're currently undergoing a review of the alternate provisions each school is doing because, sometimes, it's worked in the past, but what they're seeing now is that it's not quite working now, and it's understanding why. Is it due to the complexity of the learners coming through? Or is it that the providers are not offering what the learners are seeking any more? So, it's looking as well at, coming back to that curriculum offer, is it the right curriculum offer for those learners? And the training of the staff, do we have the right staff? It's capacity, then. It's just quality assuring the provision. Just because it's worked in the past—it's about keeping that momentum going. 

Okay. And should local authorities take a greater role in quality assuring individual tuition? 

Can I just ask what you mean by individual tuition? 

I suppose individual tuition in terms of each individual, I would assume that means. 

I think the purpose of the question is around home tuition, yes. 

Yes. Individual tuition in terms of we wouldn't want any child, if they're away from a main-school setting, to slip through the net in terms of tuition, or safeguarding even. 

I suppose the difficulty with home tuition is, as a local authority, we're restricted on how much access we get into the home. 

Therefore, it's really difficult then to quality assure, because unless the families invite us in there's very little—. We are restricted in that respect. 

If they're following a restricted timetable or whatever, because maybe they're school anxious and so on, and we're trying to get them into our provision like that, the home-tuition staff work for us. We don't use agency staff, for instance, to go in and provide a few hours of provision, or to go to the local library. So, for whatever reason their needs at the moment can't be met in a school or in approved provision, then the staff who do provide some education, or if it's for medical reasons, they work for us in the local authority. So, we're not using—

I don't really know the answer to that, I'm sorry. I can only speak for Swansea. 

We're very similar to that.

Historically, there has been a general pattern, and if you're making a provision you will quality assure it, clearly. I think your question is probably about other forms of provision and how do you quality assure those. 

And that's more difficult to answer, I suspect. 

What we were driving at was home tuition that is commissioned by the local authority, but I think Nick has answered that now, really, if that's a consistent answer for local authorities. Can I just ask, before we move on, in the WLGA paper, you say you're concerned about the

'potential impact of changes to the registration of pupils who are EOTAS and the implications for the management of data/funding/joint working'.

Can you expand on those concerns for the committee? 

I think it's, you know—

It was a joint paper. You go on.

It's about getting that money following the learner and so on, and that shared ownership of the learner that the schools need to keep, because we want them reintegrated back into schools—that's the aim of any provision that we put in. It's not permanent—except, for certain learners, that might be the case—so they're still, if you like, part and parcel of the school. I think one of your other colleagues asked about the off-rolling, if you like—another term that's used—of students when they get to GCSEs so they don't count in schools' data. We're trying to very much move away from that, through the messages that we all give our schools. The messages that governors and headteachers then give to their staff. So: 'They're our learners. They're the most vulnerable learners we've got.' And for the individuals, for the families, and for society, if we can't support these learners—we know the links then to crime, and the cost to us as a society as well. So, it's in all our interests to do the very best for these learners.

10:00

You won't get any arguments from us on that. Siân Gwenllian has got some questions on the curriculum. 

Ie. Jest eisiau trafod ychydig bach am y cwricwlwm fel mae pethau rŵan, ac hefyd meddwl ein bod ni'n trosglwyddo i gwricwlwm newydd, wrth gwrs. Beth ydy'r heriau? Mi wnaf i ddechrau efo'r WLGA, yn gyffredinol, ac felly gofyn i chi, yn eich dwy ardal chi, beth ydy'r heriau i sicrhau fod y dysgwyr rydyn ni'n sôn amdanyn nhw y bore yma yn cael cwricwlwm eang a chytbwys, a bod yna gyfleoedd dysgu priodol yn cael eu darparu ar eu cyfer nhw? Beth ydy'r heriau efo hynny i gyd?

Yes. I just want to discuss a little about the curriculum as it stands, and thinking about transferring to a new curriculum, of course. What are the challenges? I'll begin with the WLGA, in general, and ask you, in both your areas, what are the challenges to ensure that EOTAS learners have access to a broad and balanced curriculum, and that there are learning opportunities that are appropriate for them? What are the challenges associated with that?

In general terms—. You differentiate there between EOTAS and PRUs. PRUs: clearly, we know that they are following a set curriculum; they are inspected; they are under the control of the local authorities. So, we're happy and content that that is moving along and that the balance is there. 

Where home tuition is provided through the local authority, as has been discussed, again, there should be safeguards there to make sure that that quality assurance takes into account what the pupil is receiving. You can't always guarantee what then happens in the home. As you say, particular things happen there, and they may not get that. But that's a matter the authority has got to be aware of and tackle. It's more difficult where, I suspect, it's being provided by a third party that's been commissioned. The commissioning arrangements should ask for those things to be put into place; it's all about the monitoring then.

But that's a very general, broad-brush answer. I couldn't give you a definitive one of what's happening across Wales. My colleagues can probably tell you what's happening in their localities, and that would be helpful. But in general: PRUs, yes, we'd be satisfied; home tuition that is commissioned and managed through the local authority, yes, we would be satisfied; other areas, we would not be able to give a definitive answer on, is my guess. 

Of course it's a concern. If you can't guarantee quality in any shape or form for a young person, it is a concern. 

Yn y rhanbarth, dŷn ni yn cydweithio efo'n gilydd ar yr hyfforddiant i staff. Yn sicr, maen nhw hefyd yn gweithio efo staff ysgolion hefyd. So, mae'r datblygiadau yn eithaf positif ar hyn o bryd, ond mae yna waith i'w wneud, dwi'n cytuno. 

In the region, we do collaborate with each other in terms of staff training. Certainly, they also work with school staff as well. So, the developments are quite positive currently, but there is work to do, I agree. 

O ran fel mae'r cwricwlwm ar hyn o bryd, ydych chi'n hapus bod hwnna'n cael ei ddelifro?

In terms of the how curriculum is at present, are you happy that it's being delivered?

I ddweud y gwir, dŷn ni yn—

To be honest, we are—

Mae nhw'n broad and balanced. Mae'n rhaid iddyn nhw fod yn broad and balanced yn barod. Ond mae cydweithio rŵan am y cwricwlwm newydd, a defnyddio'r cyfle sydd yna rŵan i gydweithio hefyd efo staff yr ysgolion.

To be honest, they are broad and balanced. They have to be broad and balanced currently. But there's working together now in terms of the new curriculum, and using the opportunity that exists now to collaborate with school staff as well. 

Cydweithio, dwi'n credu, yw'r ateb, rhwng y PRUs a'r ysgolion. Cydweithio i wneud yn siŵr bod y dysgwyr yn cael beth sydd ei angen arnyn nhw. 

Collaboration, I think, is the answer, between the PRUs and the schools. Collaborate and have joint working to ensure that the learners have what they need. 

Ie. Fe allaf i weld bod y cydweithio efo'r unedau yn gallu gweithio—maen nhw o dan eich rheolaeth chi—y broblem ydy'r rhannau eraill o'r system, mewn ffordd.

Yes. I can see how collaborative working with the units can work—because they're under your control—the problem is the other parts of the system, in a way. 

Dŷn nhw ddim efo rhywun arall o hyd; maen nhw'n jest mynd am rhywbeth. So, byddan nhw dal yn cael llythrennedd a rhifedd a Chymraeg yn y PRU. So, dŷn nhw ddim yn mynd allan o hyd. 

They're not with other people all the time; they just go for something So, they would still have literacy and numeracy and Welsh—that would still be provided in the PRU. So, they're not out all the time.

Na, tu hwnt i'r PRU, dwi'n dweud rŵan. Os ydy disgybl yn y PRU, rydych chi'n dweud wrthyf i eu bod nhw'n cael y cwricwlwm. Ond y rheini sydd mewn cartrefi, neu yn cael darpariaeth breifat, efallai sydd ddim yn eich profiad chi—. Efallai, y bore yma, rydym ni'n cael darlun o arfer gorau, a dydyn ni ddim yn mynd o dan yr wyneb i lle efallai dydy pethau ddim cystal ym mhob ardal. A fyddech chi'n cytuno efo hynny, bod yna anghysondeb? Beth rydyn ni'n ei glywed heddiw yma ydy'r pegwn gorau.

No, it's beyond the PRUs I'm talking about. If a pupil is in a PRU, you are telling me that they have the curriculum. But for those who are in homes, or in private provision, perhaps who are not in your experience—. Maybe, this morning, we're getting a picture of the best practice, and we're not going under the surface to where things aren't as good in some areas. Do you agree that there is that inconsistency? What we're hearing about now are the best elements.

Mae cysondeb yn datblygu dros Gymru gyfan.

Consistency is developing across Wales. 

10:05

Efo'r cwricwlwm, a chydweithio. Dwi ddim yn dweud ei fod yn berffaith, ond mae o'n datblygu.

Yes, and in terms of collaboration. I'm not saying that it's perfect, but it is developing.

Thank you, Chair. It's really around support. It follows on a little bit from what Siân was saying. Can I also just refer back to the point that David was making earlier on about ALN and the extent to which ALN support is available to learners in EOTAS? The information that we've had is that it's difficult enough in mainstream schools, but in an EOTAS setting, it's particularly challenging. So, how can that be improved? What can we do to address that? The reason I'm saying that is there are particular needs of learners in an EOTAS setting—that's why they're there, quite often. So, it's almost more important that that ALN provision follows them through. 

If a child has additional needs, of course they should be met, whatever the setting. But I take your point. There's a possibility that—. Again, going back to the previous question, we would know within, say a PRU or any local authority commissioned or delivered tuition—whatever form that took—then those needs definitely should be being met. I can't tell you hand on heart whether they all are or not—I don’t know—but they should be.

Once you get out of that very tightly regulated part of the system, then, again, if a child has a particular need, of course that need should be met, but it becomes increasingly difficult. So, I think there possibly is an issue there, but I don't know whether my colleagues have a greater understanding of that. But there certainly may well be an issue there.

There is a disconnect between what should be happening and what actually is happening, isn't there? Even in some local authority PRUs where we expect all of this to be happening, we know that it’s not; we know that the full curriculum is not being provided either. The basic numeracy, literacy and well-being stuff is taking place, but there is discrepancy of provision, even in local authority commissioned EOTAS provision.

I think there will be variations in provision, but I would say that, within the local authority maintained sector, that provision should be being made. If it's not, the local authority concerned should be aware of that and should be dealing with that.

We've probably—[Inaudible.]—in Swansea if you look at the inspections of the provision. Going back some years, they weren't— What you're describing, it was true. However, the most recent inspection is very positive, and not that we recognise that there's no work to be done; we're not being complacent. But to answer your question, I think the biggest challenge is the capacity. So, I suppose that comes down to additional funding, because I'd like a dedicated educational psychologist spending their time possibly only with our PRU youngsters and EOTAS provision, but we haven't got the capacity because of the demands on us from the wider system.

It's kind of what Nick said about capacity, but it's also ensuring the right staff as well, because sometimes, you may have them, but if they move on, or retire, or whatever, there's not a bus load, if you like, of people with that expertise. Because sometimes it takes years to build up on that expertise, and therefore, it's quite niche, and once that person has moved on, it's really difficult to start all over again.

Absolutely. It's more than just one person—it's the whole training package that goes around that capacity as well.

But I think that's something we could do better. I think we need to be more—. Because that's not just down to money, it's making sure that we perhaps offer, through our teacher training colleges, the opportunity for them to spend some time. At the moment, a newly qualified teacher can't work in this type of provision, which you can argue, that's fine, they need to perhaps get mainstream first. But we need a group of people in the future to fill those gaps. So, that should be built in to their teacher training, and even through their ongoing professional development, both ways—staff actually coming out to schools, going into our provision and vise versa—because you can also get very isolated if you've worked in PRUs for—. You've got very specialist skills, but you perhaps need those wider experiences as well. So, we could be doing more there, and I think that's probably, the group I chair, a discussion we need to have.

10:10

And on that point, actually, we did hear from Estyn the point you were making about the staff leaving and there are very small numbers of staff working in that provision. There really isn't the capacity for them to access professional training. Is that your experience? And if so, what can we do about that?

I think it's limited. I think it is getting better, as Nick mentioned. There are networks now, there are conferences. It is an improving picture, but I think it's limited.

Yes, okay. So, is there any way that local authorities can encourage specialist teachers and educational psychologists to actually share expertise with independent providers of EOTAS?

Yes, but again, it's a capacity issue, because if we take them out of the provision, it's difficult for perhaps a supply teacher to come in and manage that class because of the demands. So, it's not an easy conundrum.

No. But you're saying, really, take it back to teacher training and start at that point so that every teacher has at least some basic awareness of dealing with education in that setting. I understand that.

Or whether there's an opportunity, if somebody wants to lead into that more, that there's an opportunity to do it; that there's an offer there, if they want to specialise more into that area. But at the minute, there isn't that option.

Okay. Can I just take you back to pupil support? We talked about ALN. What about access to mental health services? What's your experience of EOTAS learners' access to mental health support?

Again, even in the region there's variation there because we've got three health boards over the footprint of the south-west and mid Wales region. So, it varies. That's my understanding, anyway, and I think that's similar across Wales. Ours hasn't been great, to be honest with you. And that's one of the positive steps, that health boards have to have a DECLO now—don't ask me, I can't remember what the exact abbreviation is—but we've met with the designated education clinical lead officer, and I think those partnerships will be strong in the future.

But it's also us then having a well-being strategy and support that is universal. So, there's counselling and so on to make sure that the learners are going through, if you like—. Not that we're trying to stop them going through, but we're trying to deal with them appropriately at the different stages so that they're not inundated either.

Yes, of course. But is your experience also that a lack of mental health support in mainstream schools could potentially be leading to more learners ending up in an EOTAS provision.

I was going to say, about the question, I think there's a general deficit in child and adolescent mental health services, for example. I'm not criticising the services, I'm just saying the capacity isn't there, as we would like. So, I think there's probably a more general issue there that would, in turn, translate into pupils who've got additional needs, whether they're in EOTAS, PRU or wherever. I suspect—I've not got an evidence base to offer you, but there's a very long-standing problem there.

Ie. Jest i fynd yn ôl at hyfforddi athrawon, ac rydych chi'n sôn dydy athrawon newydd ddim yn gallu mynd yn syth i mewn i uned, a bod eisiau mwy o bwyslais, efallai, ar yr agwedd yna. Ond beth am, yn gyffredinol, os oes yna gynnydd mewn ymddygiad heriol, ydy athrawon newydd efo'r—? Does ganddyn nhw ddim y profiad, ond ydyn nhw'n cael eu harfogi'n ddigon da drwy'r cyfnod hyfforddiant i ddelio efo hwnna? Achos rydyn ni'n clywed cymaint o bobl yn gadael y proffesiwn oherwydd yr ymddygiad heriol, ac eto, tybed ydy'r system ddim wedi dal fyny efo hynna'n iawn eto, a bod angen, ddim yn unig yn yr agwedd yma, ond bod angen i'r system yn holistaidd fod yn fwy parod i ddelio ag ymddygiad heriol. Ydych chi'n deall beth dwi'n ei ddweud?

Yes. Just to return to teacher training, and you say that new teachers can't go straight into a unit, and maybe more emphasis is needed on that aspect. But generally speaking, if there's an increase in challenging behaviour, are new teachers able—? They don't have the experience, but are they equipped well enough to deal with that? Because we hear of so many people leaving the profession because of this challenging behaviour, and again, I wonder if the system has adequately caught up with that. And we need—not just in this aspect—but we need to look at the system holistically to be more prepared to deal with challenging behaviour. Do you know what I'm saying?

Dydy o ddim jest yn ei wneud e—. Os ydy pobl yn penderfynu peidio â dysgu ar ôl cael hyfforddiant, dydy o ddim jest oherwydd ymddygiad. Ond mae newid, rŵan. Mae yna fwy o amser pan fydd myfyrwyr mewn ysgolion, so mae hwnna'n help. Rwyt ti angen y theori, ac mae ymarfer hefyd yn bwysig, a chael rhywun sydd yn eich mentora chi neu yn yr ysgol sy'n dangos ymarfer da. Mae wedyn y polisi mae'r ysgolion yn ei ddefnyddio, mae yna gysondeb drwy'r ysgol gyfan.

It's not just—. If people decide not to go into teaching after having training, it's not just because of challenging behaviour. There is a change now. There is more time for students in schools, so that helps. You need the theory, but also the practice—that's important to have somebody who can mentor you in the school and that shows good practice. Then there are the policies that the school uses to assure that there is consistency across the whole school.

10:15

Ocê, ond os ydyn ni'n wynebu sefyllfa lle mae yna lai a llai eisiau mynd i mewn i'r proffesiwn ac rydyn ni'n colli'r bobl mwyaf profiadol, mae o'n creu her fawr, onid ydy? So, rydyn ni'n edrych ar rywbeth cyfyngedig yn fan hyn, ond mae'n rhaid edrych arno fo o fewn y darlun mawr o beth sy'n digwydd. Ydych chi'n cytuno efo hynna?

But if we're facing a situation where there are fewer wanting to go into the profession and we are losing those most experienced people, then it creates a great big challenge, doesn't it? We're looking at something very limited here, but we need to look at it in the bigger picture of what's happening. Would you agree with that?

Yn bendant.

Yes, certainly.

Sharon, the CAMHS in-reach project is operational in Gwent, but my understanding is that they don't include PRUs. Is that right?

I don't know if that is the—.

Okay, that's fine, that's my understanding. I just wanted to ask, then, the Gwent attachment team has been working with PRUs in Gwent, and the committee is familiar with the work of the Gwent attachment team, can you just tell us what you think the impact of that has been in terms of support for staff and embedding that awareness of attachment and early trauma in the PRUs?

I think any form of professional learning, it's positive, and, therefore, as we alluded to earlier, it's that expertise training for the PRU then and for the staff there. It's having a positive impact. At the minute, I don't know what the overall impact is. I think it's early days, but it seems to be positive. 

Thank you. Janet, I think some of the areas have been covered. Is there anything you want to pick up from the—?

Yes, I think the rural aspect—are you aware that there are any issues relating to transport for EOTAS learners, particularly in more rural parts or areas of Wales?

Certainly, in our region, in Powys, from north Powys, when you're almost in Oswestry, down to Ystradgynlais, which is not far from me. So, you've got provision for those types of learners there. I think they've got provision in the north and south of the county, but you're still talking—

I think there's a PRU provision in the north of Powys and one in the south—

North Powys.

Sorry. But even so, the distances that those learners are having to travel are huge.

For myself, and I'd hazard a guess, Torfaen, we're relatively compact, aren't we, so it's not such an issue.

I'm not aware of issues, if I'm honest, but then again, it may be something we've not investigated. I'm quite happy to look at that.

Okay. We've come to the end of our time. We have probably got a few areas that we'll write to you about, if that's okay. Can I thank you for your attendance this morning? We will send you a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting, but thank you again for attending. The committee will break until 10:20, but can Members not shoot off for a sec, please?

10:30

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:19 a 10:30.

The meeting adjourned between 10:19 and 10:30.

3. Addysg Heblaw yn yr Ysgol: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 6
3. Education Otherwise than at School: Evidence Session 6

Okay, can I welcome everybody back to our next evidence session, which is our sixth evidence session for our inquiry on education otherwise than at school? I'm very pleased to welcome Sarah Stone, executive director for Wales of Samaritans; Liz Williams, policy and communications officer at Samaritans; and Dr Ian Johnson, who is the manager of children and young people's mental health at Mind Cymru. Thank you all for attending. If it's okay, we'll go straight and questions. If I can just start by asking you what you think the main reasons are why we are seeing this increase in the numbers of children and young people being excluded from school.

I think you were going to—.

I think it's a very difficult subject, because, in many cases, we're not really sure what the data looks like. We get these things from quite a broad perspective, and we don't actually see the extent of the reasons why. If you look at, for example, the statistical release, then you get a sense of why people are being excluded, but they tend to be—. It's a very reductionist discussion, so you see reasons like persistent disruptive behaviour, verbal abuse or physical assaults, but you don't actually get the underlying factors that are influencing that. Now, we know that that information exists, because, obviously, schools don't exclude anybody lightly, and I speak as someone who's been until this academic year a governor on secondary and primary schools. So, there's a great deal of paper trail, but that doesn't seem to really find its way up to a higher level.

Okay, thank you. And how concerned are you about the trend that we're seeing of an increase in younger children being excluded, and what do you think the reasons might be for that?

I think it's very concerning that we're seeing increases amongst younger children in particular. Those have gone up quite substantially in the past few years, and a lot of the evidence that we're hearing is quite anecdotal, so it tends to be around the behavioural issues or underlying issues, and there's a lot of discussion about the adverse childhood experiences agenda and how that's—. So, there's a better understanding of that, but I'm not in a position at the moment, really, to be able to explain why primary schools maybe are actually taking that position and excluding more than they used to.

What I would say is that the reason that Samaritans did our report on exclusions from school rested with—. They began with anecdotal information coming through to us around individual distress and from projects working with young people who'd been excluded. And there are projects that are working with young people who are being excluded—I mean primary school children. And the major thing we say in our report is that we—. So, this is enough to ask us some serious questions, to which we don't know the answer, unless we actually do some serious work on this. So, I would reiterate what we say in our report: that we need to examine this. It's a really important issue, and the life trajectory of those young people is being impacted by their exclusion.

Okay. You may not be able to answer this, but to what extent do you think school accountability measures are having an impact on the numbers of exclusions?

Well, I think it's very interesting, looking at Estyn's pupil registration practices report from October last year, which looks at off-rolling, and I think that you see, specifically at year 10 to 11, a strong impact: around 4 per cent of pupils are off-rolled between year 10 and 11, but you're also seeing a number between 1.5 and 2 per cent that are off-rolled in any given year between year 8/year 9, year 9/year 10. So, I think it's clear that there's been a substantial increase in the numbers off-rolled in that year 10 to 11, but what I think is concerning for me is the normalisation, throughout the system, at secondary school level, where there's off-rolling between year 7/8, year 8/9. Based around there being around 30,000 to 32,000 in each cohort, then you're looking at 500 to 600 children in any given year, and I think we need to understand why that is the norm, what could be done around that, as well as looking into the obvious impact of that at year 10 to 11. The Estyn work is quite factual. It's looking at the numbers. I think we need to dig a bit deeper and understand the story behind that and whether there's a specific reason why schools are doing that, related to the accountability measures. It'll be interesting to see the impact of changes towards capped 9 et cetera, but I think we need a bit more qualitative work on that rather than just the quantitative work that's currently available.

10:35

I think there's also a problem with schools only being measured on academic outcomes rather than the journey travelled by the child and the efforts put in by the school to nurture the well-being of children who are particularly vulnerable. So, I suppose, if you consider that, this is something that definitely needs to be looked at further so that there's incentive for schools to keep children who are perhaps demonstrating challenging behaviour or perhaps aren't attaining brilliant grades. So, I think that's something that needs to be looked at further.

And, just finally, if that's okay, just to cross-refer the committee to the loneliness and isolation strategy, to which we made extensive representations on this issue. A part of the strategy talks about using our approach to accountability to recognise inclusive schools and reduce incentives to remove pupils from schools. So, that is a commitment in that strategy. It's a really important commitment to make a reality of that, because, actually, what is happening, I think, is that there are incentives that are perverse around this issue.

Could I just come in on that? I think there's an interesting, again, qualitative, quantitative, element to what happens to those children who move into PRU, EOTAS provision in their earlier years in school and those as they reach a later point in their school career. So, I think there's a question, then, about—I was talking earlier about those children who move in in years 7/8, 8/9, et cetera, and how they loop back into the mainstream education system, what happens to them, but then what happens to those who may be reaching the end of their formal education career and move into EOTAS, PRU provision, and what happens to those young people afterwards? I'm sure we'll pick up some of that as we go through.

Okay. Thank you. We've got some questions now from Janet Finch-Saunders around the support for learners who are at risk of becoming EOTAS.

Good morning. To what extent is adequate support provided to pupils who are at risk of becoming EOTAS?

Okay. So, this was a major focus around the piece of work that we did, and we came up with a range of suggestions. I think the quick answer is that what we've seen is a strong indication that it isn't, and that it's—. But also that it's not simply a question of the young person, that it's a question of the whole school environment and how that interacts with the challenges that a young person might be facing. So, there are a couple of big things to say on this one. One is that we want to promote a compassionate response and an informed response by everybody in the school to distressed young people—and that distress may show in a number of ways, not necessarily just as obvious distress. So, I think it's understanding that, having a confident response and, obviously, this links with expressing suicidal thoughts and distress as well, which may not come out in exactly that way—but being able to respond where young people are expressing suicidal thoughts.

And I think if we connect this with the agenda around adverse childhood experiences, and if you see the young person—. I think what we as Samaritans really wanted to do was to focus on the distressed individual—that's what we do, it's what we're majorly about. So, a young person who is experiencing a whole range of adversity in their own life may be presenting at school in a very challenging way, perhaps. That school may also be their only safe place, and I think that's just a really simple thing just to keep remembering. Hearing headteachers and teachers talk about this, a lot of them are very aware of that, and there are some great examples of schools working to reduce exclusions and understanding the fork in the road that exclusion or not exclusion represents in the life of that young person.

There are restorative justice-type approaches being used by schools in Cardiff that seem extraordinarily inspiring. I've heard—. There's been so much interest in this piece of work that we've done, and I've spoken to many educators since, and so it's doing what we needed to do, which is to get people talking about it. Because I think it's not about providing a simplistic answer to this question of support, it is understanding that it's a whole-school question. It's building on the excellent work that is being done by schools in different parts of Wales, joining that up and making that much more general. So, I think that's the opportunity: is to really recognise that this is a big issue, and that, if you don't hold young people within an educational setting, the lifetime consequences for them, including their elevated risk of suicide—it's very hard to reverse that. So, I think we want to focus on a distressed young person and how we respond to that, and it's amazing to move someone on from where they started, and loads of teachers will tell you examples of how they've done that and how they've felt that's not sufficiently recognised by the measures that they're subjected to.

10:40

I think it's an issue where it's very important both to focus on the individual, but also on the macro situation, and, as Sarah mentioned, I think the whole-school approach, which is something that's been discussed within this committee, as part of the 'Mind over matter' work, is something that is hugely important. And that's why that should be—there should be statutory provision regarding a whole-school approach. Because understanding—. That prevention operating all the way through the whole-school community will, hopefully, be very effective in providing support levels, ensuring that that support is in place from the very beginning, all the way through primary school, all the way through secondary school, to ensure that learners are being supported and that that is something that's at the forefront of people's considerations whenever they're considering what a pupil is doing, and why they might be doing it. And that then also links back into consideration around adverse childhood experiences. But, generally, just that thinking about the behaviour and the emotional response first, I think, is hugely important in this context.

Okay. And what do you think could be done more, and by whom, to help schools to support pupils to remain in mainstream education?

So, this is where we set out nine recommendations in our report and I think the major message is, as I said before, that we don't have a simple answer to this one. However, there are a number of things that we need to do: we need to recognise the impact of adverse childhood experiences; we need to train teachers so that they have an understanding response and are much more confident in that; we need to learn from what works; we need to listen to the voices of young people themselves. That's terribly important, because—. I know this committee is very well aware of that, because you've done very good work listening to the direct voices of young people, but they are very often able to articulate quite a lot about what is needed. I would also add to that that we would want young people themselves to be skilled up in understanding and recognising their own emotions, because this is about putting in place that awareness, that consciousness, if you like, about being able to name and recognise feelings. There's great international evidence on the importance of that and the benefit of it, which was carried out when the new curriculum was being developed, and the health aspect of that. So, we've kind of done that work in Wales.

What we would like to see is that new curriculum around health and well-being and mental health and awareness being in the curriculum, so that young people, on a statutory basis—. Otherwise, you're entrenching the differences and the inequalities between teaching across Wales, because the good will do it, and perhaps others will find it much harder. So, that's a major message as well. So, I think there's a menu, if you like, and some of it is very much about respecting the experience of teachers and of schools and working with them, because this is about working with their will to do things well.

I think what's important, and maybe it's implicit within the question about helping to support pupils remain in mainstream schools, is working out what is the best support at this point in time for the young person. So, that has to be taken deeply into consideration. Obviously, the schools provide whatever support they can, but what is the best for the young person at this time? And that answer will differ from individual to individual. I think it is important to have the learner voice playing a role within this, and it's important to get more of a child-centred voice around this. 

One of the projects that Mind will be working on in Wales in the next year is regarding an inclusive education inquiry, where we'll be forefronting the voices of young people within the evidence, because at the moment a lot of the evidence that we have is data-driven or anecdotal, and I think we want to get to the bottom of how young people feel, and how they find this. Sarah's referred to the curriculum. I think there's a lot to be done, still, with regard to PRU and EOTAS with the new curriculum, and, hopefully, we'll be able to outline some of that in terms of questions later on. 

10:45

Thank you. And what are your views on the balance between funding being used for diagnosis and support, because I know that the Samaritans report suggested that funding tends to go into diagnosis rather than support? How can the balance be addressed?

I think it's a really difficult balance, but it was something that was brought up in the research stages of our report. So, we held a round table during the research period, and participants said that they were particularly concerned about the lack of awareness and knowledge of children who had additional learning needs. And, obviously, this is quite serious because these children are at risk of being excluded and are over-represented in excluded groups. And they were particularly concerned about children who were sort of on the cusp, or not properly diagnosed, and a lot of these children would have things like attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and, again, these made up the cohort of pupils who were excluded. 

So, when you consider that, you tend to think, actually, diagnosis could be really useful, so that staff are aware of the pupil's needs, and maybe aware of why the child might be demonstrating challenging behaviour. However, what participants did say was that unless there was a proper understanding of the child's condition or additional learning needs, and that the proper support was there, then diagnosis alone wasn't of value. So, I think one of the participants said that up to 50 per cent of learners in a classroom could have an additional learning need, so, again, if the support isn't there, that child isn't going to benefit from diagnosis. 

And what was really highlighted is the importance of the school being inclusive, and for that child, regardless of whether they had an additional learning need or not, to have proper opportunity to progress. 

Thank you. And, then, to what extent are schools aware of the impact of early trauma ACEs, and how are schools adapting their practices to take account of them?

I don't think we're really capable of saying that on an individual level. We're aware, as you've heard from previous evidence from heads of education, et cetera, directors of education, that work is going on on an all-Wales basis, and there's obviously an awful lot of work that's going on on the ACEs agenda. I referred to being a previous school governor, and that's somewhere that's become a trauma-informed school, and they have established that and are widening that base.

I think that what the school does though is something that has to loop back, as I said, with the curriculum changes as we're going forward. There's a concern that I have at the moment regarding the progress on EOTAS and PRU within the new curriculum, and there's work that I think will still need to be done, and something that I'm sure will be considered by this committee when it deals with the curriculum assessment Bill when it comes forward later on in the year, because there were comments made by the education Minister, I think, in response to Suzy Davies, in the statement in January, that we're talking about disallowing areas of the curriculum on the basis of the individual learner, to which I have no concern in itself. However, the emotional and mental health well-being needs of this particularly vulnerable group of people needs to be centre stage. So, the role of the health and well-being area of learning and experience, and the role of mental health and emotional well-being within the curriculum, is hugely important. 

And I think, just to add to that around the impact of early trauma, I think one of the things that we at Samaritans are particularly aware of is the impact of loneliness and isolation on individuals and how that can help to drive distress and suicidal ideation. That sense of belongingness is recognised by the research as being critical to functioning well as a human being. We are social beings. And one of the ways in which early trauma and adversity, if that leads to exclusion from a range of groups, is to lead to lifelong isolation. It's something that comes out when you look at middle-aged men. You look at a trajectory that goes back towards their early years, very often, and Samaritans is about to release some research on that very point. So, there's a connection between what happens in later life and what happens here.

There's also, if we look at the numbers of exclusions around boys, and we're looking at much higher suicide rates and numbers of other issues around men—. Again, I think it's important to see this whole picture—

10:50

It's very bad in north Wales. Our figures are very worrying.

Yes, exactly. So, there's a bigger picture here. I would say that we want to do something to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and we have this great opportunity to release the potential of those young people whose, often, strength and resilience is quite extraordinary in circumstances that many of us would find hard to imagine. So, we need to look at the assets that young people have as well, which you can work with. So, I think if there's a real opportunity to create a change, this is one of them. This issue about exclusions and PRUs—this is a chance to make that ambition real.

Just to reiterate what Sarah said, looking at our research, which, obviously, isn't yet published but will be soon, it really is quite shocking how these men fell through the net so many times when they were young, and, actually, how many missed opportunities there were to intervene in the cycles of inequality. It is quite clear from that research that these stages where children are demonstrating challenging behaviour are the first signs of distress. So actually, this is where we should be intervening. So, I think like Sarah said, it is really important to see this as a preventative agenda.

Thank you, Chair. A few questions around providing support for learners. You've set out very clearly what you think needs to happen in your report, your nine points and so on, but what's your view on the support currently provided, both in a school setting and EOTAS settings for mental health support? Have you been able to get that sort of information? Have you got a sense of—?

I don't think we're really in a position to answer fully as to what's going on. I think that part of the problem is there's not really a national picture that we can pick up in terms of data or information regarding this, and I think that's really why there's been such a push towards seeing this in the curriculum.

Sure. So much of your evidence is anecdotal, is it? It's people that have been referred to you, come to you for help, and you just—or your own research. What—?

The research that we're going to do is really where we're at, and that's because we feel that there is a gap there regarding how young people are experiencing this within the school environment and in general. I think, in particular, we're aware of increases—quite substantial increases in some cases—regarding self-harm, and concern that manifests itself slightly differently between girls and boys. Specifically, I think there's now an increasing focus on self-harm behaviour amongst girls in the 15 to 19 age range, but we're not entirely sure of how good the support is at schools.

My experience of projects that I've been involved in—I was previously in front of this committee as part of the Time to Change Wales project—was that, overall, it depends quite strongly on the senior management team and their commitment. Where the SMT has taken a lead, then it feels that schools are really doing something. Where the SMT are, perhaps, a bit more laissez-faire regarding this, then it feels that maybe schools are not making such a step forward. And to come back to the point, that's why we feel that whole-school approach guidance needs to be statutory, because we'll otherwise reach some quite uneven outcomes, because those who are doing it well will really push ahead and those that are not so engaged will not be helping their pupils in the way that they should be. 

I guess the EOTAS or PRU provision is going to be much more challenging then, isn't it, then main school provision. I suppose that was what I was trying to get at as well, whether you get a sense that there may be some progress being made in mainstream schools, is that following through in PRUs and EOTAS provision?

10:55

I'll just be honest: right now, I couldn't give you an answer on that. I think that is something that, perhaps, slightly concerns me about the whole field is not being able to get a national feel for these issues. I would suspect that there are pockets of very good practice. I've heard discussions about things being done regionally and nationally, but I think it would be good to be able to see what that best practice looks like and how well it's done. 

I appreciate you're not educationalists and you wouldn't necessarily have all of that information, but have you got any sense of—again, whether this is anecdotal or from cases that are referred to you—evidence of schools off-rolling pupils with mental health problems? If you've got any evidence of that, what might the impact of that be on the individuals?

Yes, I think that certainly does happen. I suppose we know this anecdotally from Samaritans research, but also I have experience of working in pupil referral units and working with some really vulnerable children, and I think there is a sense sometimes that these children are labelled as naughty and disruptive. So, children who have additional learning needs or a communication problem that potentially is undiagnosed or not really properly understood. I think when children have mental health problems and additional learning needs, often they can find the school environment really difficult. I've worked with children who have told me that they just don't enjoy being in the classroom because they feel incredibly anxious. They don't feel they can contribute to the school environment, they don't feel like they're keeping up with their classmates and, as a result, they demonstrate challenging behaviour so that they can leave the classroom. I think that's very sad. As a result, these children aren't always understood and are off-rolled in some cases.

But, like Sarah said earlier, there are certainly examples of really good practice, and I suppose this links in to what approaches schools, pupil referral units and EOTAS should take to vulnerable children with mental health problems. One example I can give you is that, at one pupil referral unit, the children would get really distressed and really disruptive towards the end of the day on a Friday. I suppose that, in some schools, the teachers would have thought, 'This is ridiculous, they're disrupting the lessons', but what the teachers knew is that these children would go home, they would face such adversity, wouldn't always get a meal, would be exposed to things they shouldn't be exposed to, and the teachers were able to respond to that with compassion and empathy. But, obviously, seeing behind behaviour is really, really difficult, and I don't think teachers should have to do this alone, they should be properly trained and properly equipped.

Even going up to a child—and I suppose this goes back to mental health support. Ideally, as Samaritans, we would want suicide prevention plans to be embedded in schools and to be part of the culture of schools, but obviously this can't happen if teachers aren't properly equipped and don't have the confidence to go up to a student and ask them if they're struggling. In our compassion in education toolkit, we highlight the importance of asking a child, 'Are you self-harming?', if there are signs; 'Have you tried to take your own life?', if there are signs. But obviously that's a very difficult conversation to have. So, yes, there are certainly examples of best practice, but I do believe that, if school staff aren't properly equipped and trained, off-rolling pupils, especially at key stage 4, where obviously you will hold those grades, is definitely something that they don't necessarily have the incentive to prevent. So it's worth looking at that. 

You touched, in the beginning of that response, on children being labelled as naughty. To what extent have you come across that? Is that quite prevalent? Is that quite common?

Absolutely, yes. I think it's really down to the school. I think it's down to experience and it's down to the teacher. I think it links up with the question we were asked before about diagnosis and support. Lots of children with communication difficulties especially, if they haven't been formally diagnosed, they are certainly the ones that are deemed naughty, because I suppose people think, 'Well, you should be doing well, you're bright. You should be thriving in school.' But that's not always the case. Children can be incredibly anxious, have mental health problems, obviously, are exposed to ACEs and things that go on at home that not necessarily every teacher would know about. So, I think there are definitely children who are labelled 'naughty', and I think children also play up to that as well. Like I said, if children are very anxious in the school environment and in the classroom, if they know they can get out of the classroom and get into a safe space, they will do that. 

11:00

And then that labelling of a 'naughty' child is actually the impediment to getting that child the support that they need. 

Absolutely, yes, and I think that's where formal diagnosis can be helpful. I think the doors are open then to much more school support. So, yes, I think it is down to how the school approach it, and it goes back to the whole-school approach and having emotional and mental health on a statutory basis in the curriculum. It embeds emotional well-being into the culture of the school, and it means that students might know when they need help, how to be more resilient and helping themselves, and when and how to ask for help from the teachers. So, I think it's really important. 

If I can just pick up on one of those points, Mind Cymru conducted a series of focus groups around Wales to inform our response to the new curriculum. One of the comments that I think struck home most strongly with me was a young boy saying that, because the same teacher was responsible for pastoral and behaviour, because he had been labelled as naughty or a troublemaker, he felt uncomfortable in terms of going to that same person within the school in order to disclose the problems he was having, because there was a fear of not being believed or accepted, or it being considered as an excuse for poor behaviour, rather than them being taken seriously. I wouldn't want to over-egg that point, but I think it is an important consideration from a learners' perspective. 'If I disclose a problem, if I want to talk to somebody, are there appropriate considerations within the school setting where I can turn to somebody who maybe I might not have the greatest relationship with in other contexts?'

I'd also just like to come back to the off-rolling question if I may, just quite briefly. As I said at the outset of the evidence here, Estyn conducted a piece of work on pupil registration practices that showed a substantially higher amount of off-rolling between year 10 and 11, but also a consistent level—1.5 per cent to 2 per cent—in other secondary school years. But we don't have the qualitative material to understand how much of that is related to mental health factors, and how much—because we're in discussion about school accountability—might drive some of that at year 10/11. But we don't know why that baseline of 500/600 young people every year is there within our schools. I think that needs further investigation.

Okay. Thanks for that. Can I just ask you a couple of other questions about the impact of particular circumstances, and whether you've come across any issues relating to Welsh-medium provision to support the mental health and well-being of learners as an issue—that it's not been available, Welsh-medium support, for those learners? Have you come across that at all? 

We haven't necessarily come across it, but we haven't been looking for it either. The Estyn report notes that there are generally fewer off-rollings from Welsh-medium education to EOTAS. There are a number of potential reasons for that. That can include the complete lack of EOTAS provision within a local area. It could be the socio-economic profile, because exclusions, et cetera, are substantially higher amongst those who are eligible for free school meals, and in many parts of Wales the socio-economic profile of a Welsh-medium education school is slightly different. We are not aware of any particular work that's been done to examine the needs and the provision of Welsh-medium EOTAS. Therefore, my suspicion, without any particular evidence, would be that it happens on a local authority basis, possibly on an incidental basis, depending on the quality and the ability of staff, and possibly more prevalent therefore in west and north-west Wales.

Okay. We can come back to that again, I'm sure. Do you know whether there's any impact on learners where there are actually delays in accessing EOTAS, again in terms of mental health conditions, if there's a delay in getting them to the appropriate provision? Have you got any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, of the impact on that?

11:05

Not specifically researched on that situation. I think, again, there is so much that we don't actually know and that we should know a lot more about, but I think there are some things that we can say about delays for young people who are not either in education or in anything else, and they're connected with the issues anyway.

So, if you understand that there's a strong link between inequality and exclusion, and that the most likely young people to be excluded have other disadvantages as well, that's a really important issue to understand. So, being out of school or out of education for any time is going to exacerbate those pre-existing inequalities, and I can't emphasis that enough. This is exacerbating this cycle of inequality and disadvantage. So, being outside your peer group makes you vulnerable. It makes you vulnerable, and I guess the longer that continues I would expect the worse that impact and that uncertainty would be. So, there's the impact on loneliness and young people seeking an alternative community to the school one.

Since the publication of our report, we have had an extraordinary level of interest from people concerned about crime. So, we've talked to the youth justice board, we've met with the police, there's a huge level of concern about county lines and about home-growing drug gangs, and the fodder that those young people are for people who will engage them in all sorts of activities, which are hugely damaging both to themselves and also to the wider society. So, I think we need to understand there's a lot at stake here for wider society in holding young people, and not allowing gaps to grow where they are not held.

I would just refer you to the child death review on suicide and suspected suicide by young people, which came out very recently from Public Health Wales and Swansea University, and that looked at 33 young people who died by suicide over the past few years. One thing that came through that and was reflected in one of their suggestions for action was that those young people had not been held in education or training or employment, had slipped through all sorts of systems, and were extremely vulnerable. So, I think that's a really big message: that we need to try to hold people and not allow those gaps—where they're not held within their society—to lengthen and become really, really difficult. So, I think that's my major message on that particular one.

Can I just ask, as a follow on from that, whether you've got any views on the potential impact of individual tuition on learners' well-being? So, home tuition, for instance: are pupils going to be on their own doing that? That might be in their best interest, or do you have any concerns that it might not be? 

I suppose we don't have actual evidence to show the impact home schooling has on pupils, but what we do know and something that is of huge concern, I suppose, to most people is that there's no central data on how many young people are home schooled. So, it's quite likely that these children are hidden or invisible and could be at a huge risk of the adverse problems that are related to exclusion more generally. Also, it is a concern, if children aren't registered with any school, how they get back into school, how they reintroduce back into the schooling environment, if that's what people think is best for them. So, I think that is a concern: not having that transparency of data.

And just to reiterate Sarah's point, I suppose, home schooling could tackle the more academic side of things, so it would mean that that child is still receiving an education, but it might not necessarily help with the adverse effects of exclusion, like loneliness and isolation. That child still isn't with its own peer group. That is something that came out of the men's research, as Sarah mentioned. These men, who are now middle aged and are at the highest risk of dying by suicide, weren't always interacting with children their own age, and that did cause problems in later life. So, I think it's definitely something we don't know enough about, but I think we need to know more about.

11:10

There are two questions within there, regarding the delay in entering provision and the effect of long term individual teaching. I think there are occasions on which individual tuition will be beneficial, because there may be a reason why somebody is uncomfortable and unable to operate within an educational setting. However, it may be that, on a longer term basis, that is not entirely appropriate. But it's very much an individual matter.

What concerns me, I think, is the idea of there being a gap between mainstream education and entering any form of EOTAS provision due to capacity or otherwise, because that is a period in time—. We don't know whether there's the causation of or exacerbation of mental health issues amongst those in EOTAS, but it's clear that—well, it seems intuitive that a gap between being in mainstream education and EOTAS is unhelpful, not least their rights to an education, but also the feelings that young people who are probably in quite a confused and troubled state may have during that gap and how long that gap can endure.

I will refer back: there was a recommendation by Estyn in their 2016 report on EOTAS regarding CAMHS support for children within those settings, I don't know whether there's been any particular progress within that—and especially the mixture of issues that may be related to both mental health and also neurodevelopmental issues and whether those are more or less likely amongst this vulnerable part of the population.

Just to draw your attention to it, I think there's an acknowledgment that there's a lot we don't know about this. Again, in the loneliness and isolation strategy, there's a commitment to analyse existing education and health data to explore correlations between exclusions or being educated other than at school and mental well-being, including loneliness and isolation. So, I think that's a very welcome commitment to try to expand our understanding in this area, because there may be some pluses as well as minuses, but actually there is so much that we don't know about this.

Thank you. We've got some questions now from Siân Gwenllian. I think some of them have been covered, but—

Jest yn gyffredinol, unwaith y mae plentyn neu berson ifanc wedi cael eu gwahardd, oes yna ddigon o gymorth iddyn nhw, ddim jest ar yr ochr addysg ond yn gyffredinol? Ydyn ni'n cefnogi'r bobl ifanc yma, y mwyaf bregus, unwaith y maen nhw yn y sefyllfa o wedi cael eu gwahardd?

Just in general, once a young person or a child has been excluded, is there enough support for them, not just on the educational side, but in general? Are we supporting these young people, these most vulnerable young people, once they're in the position of having been excluded?

Buaswn i'n dweud bod hwn yn rhywbeth sydd o bosib yn digwydd ar lefel leol, ond does dim darlun cenedlaethol gyda ni, buaswn i'n dweud. Un o'r pethau rydyn ni eisioes wedi'i nodi yw'r amser rhwng cael eu gwahardd a mynd mewn i rhyw fath o ddarpariaeth addysg heblaw yn yr ysgol. Felly, mae hwn yn ei hunan—a dwi wedi clywed pobl yn sôn am broblemau capasiti—yn dangos beth yn union sy'n digwydd i'r plant yma, yn y cyfnod lle buaswn i'n dweud y maen nhw'n fwyaf bregus achos eu bod nhw tu allan i'r system.

I'd say that that's something that's possibly happening locally, but we don't have a national picture. One of the things we have already noted is the time between being excluded and entering some kind of EOTAS provision. So, that in itself—and I've heard people talking about the capacity issues—shows what's happening to these children, at a time when they are most vulnerable because they are outside of the system.

A phwy ddylai fod yn eu helpu nhw? Ydyn ni'n ddigon clir ynglŷn â phwy sydd i fod i roi'r gefnogaeth? Maen nhw wedi'u gwahardd o'r ysgol, so yn amlwg mae gan y system addysg gyfrifoldeb, ond ydyn ni'n ddigon clir ynglŷn â chyfrifoldeb pwy arall, a phwy ddylai fod yn cydgordio'r gefnogaeth yna beth bynnag?

And who should be supporting them? Are we being clear enough with regard to who should be giving them the support? They've been excluded, so obviously the education system has a responsibility, but are we clear enough in terms of who else's responsibility this is, and who should be co-ordinating that support?

Y gwir yw, mae'r cyfrifoldeb yn cwympo ar yr awdurdod addysg lleol yn y cyd-destun yna, buaswn i'n dweud. Y pwynt yw, yn aml, mae'r plant yma'n delio gyda sawl sefydliad arall. Felly, mae'n hollbwysig fod unrhyw wasanaethau'n cael eu cludo i mewn i'r sefyllfa o gwmpas y plentyn neu'r plant sydd yn y sefyllfa yma. Mae angen mwy o wybodaeth am hyn. Pan roeddwn i'n sôn yn gynharach am wneud addysg yn gynhwysol, neu rhyw fath o ymchwiliad i mewn i hyn, dyna'r math o beth y byddwn i'n edrych arno: sut i bontio'r bwlch yna a pha fath o gefnogaeth sydd yna. Dwi'n poeni, wrth gwrs, o safbwynt addysg, a oes digon o arian ar gael ar gyfer sicrhau hyn. Ond oherwydd bod y grŵp hwn yn un bregus iawn, mae angen inni gymryd y cyfrifoldeb, yn union, o bosib, yr un ffordd ag y mae rhianta corfforaethol, er enghraifft: mae'n bosib bod gwerth edrych at ryw fath o gyfundrefn fel yna—sut rŷn ni'n helpu pobl. Dwi'n gwybod bod ffigurau ar sail awdurdod lleol ar gael, ond dwi ddim yn eu cofio nhw o dop fy mhen, ond mae hyn yn rhywbeth gwerth edrych mewn iddo.

The truth is, the responsibility lies on the local education authority in that context, I would say. The point is that, often, these children deal with several other institutions. So, it's incredibly important that any service is interweaved into that setting around the child or the children who are in this situation. More information is needed about this. When I was talking earlier about inclusive education, or some kind of investigation into this, that's the kind of thing I'd look at: how to bridge that gap and what kind of support will be available. I'm concerned, of course, in terms of education, whether there is enough funding available to ensure this. But because this is a very vulnerable group, we need to take responsibility in exactly the same way, perhaps, as corporate parenting plays a role there. We need to look at that kind of system, and how we help these individuals. I know there are figures available on local authorities, but I can't remember them off the top of my head, but maybe that's something to look at.

11:15

And as Ian just said, although there's a lot of responsibility by the school and the local authority, I suppose some responsibility also sits with the parent as well. But for the parents to support their child, either if they're at risk of being excluded or if the child is already in EOTAS, and that parent wants to make sure that the child is having the best education possible, the parent has to have the right amount of information. They must know where to go for support themselves, and I think that a parent can't necessarily know the rights of their child to education and what their child is supposed to be having if they're not provided with all of the information. And I'm sure this is dependent on the school or dependent on the local authority, but that's something worth thinking about as well.

Hoffwn wneud rhyw fath o sylw ynglŷn â'r cwricwlwm newydd a sicrhau bod y ddarpariaeth EOTAS yn cynnwys hyn, a sut bydd yr agwedd ysgol gyfan yn gweithio tu fewn i EOTAS, a sut byddwn ni'n sicrhau bod y ddarpariaeth ar gael trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, fel roeddwn i'n siarad am yn gynharach, ar lefel genedlaethol. Ydy hyn, o bosib, yn gallu gweithio tu mewn i'r consortiwm rhanbarthol, er enghraifft? A oes modd gwneud hyn? Sut ydyn ni'n sicrhau bod yr athrawon hefyd yn cael eu—os maen nhw'n initial teacher training, neu newly qualified teachers, neu yn fwy profiadol: sut bydd hyn yn cael ei weithio trwy'r system? Achos dwi'n meddwl bod y plant sydd mewn sefyllfaoedd EOTAS fel arfer yn fwy bregus na'r rhai eraill, ac felly mae angen blaenoriaethu eu llesiant a'u hiechyd meddwl nhw. Rŷn ni'n sôn yn aml am dystysgrifau ac yn y blaen, ond mae sicrhau bod llesiant pawb yn dda yn beth pwysig ac yn outcome da o'r gwaith sydd yn digwydd yna. Felly, rŷn ni'n meddwl am yr agwedd ysgol gyfan, a sut mae hyn yn gweithio tu mewn i'r cwricwlwm newydd. Ac mae hyn yn bwynt hollbwysig yn y blynyddoedd i ddod.

Just a comment, really, on the new curriculum and ensuring that EOTAS provision includes this, and how the whole-school approach will work within EOTAS, and how we ensure that the provision is available through the medium of Welsh, as we were referring to earlier, on a national level. Is it possible that it can be worked out within the local consortia, for example? How do we ensure that the teachers—? If it's initial teacher training, or if they're newly qualified teachers, or if they're more experienced, how will this be implemented through the system? Because I think that children in EOTAS situations are usually more vulnerable than others, and therefore there is a need to prioritise their well-being and their mental health. We talk a lot about certificates and so forth, and qualifications, but ensuring everybody's well-being is important, and an important outcome of the work. So, we're thinking of this whole-school approach and how it works within the new curriculum, and this is a vital point for the years to come.

Just before we finish, then, is there anything you wanted to add in terms of what the committee could recommend about professional development for staff that would enhance this provision in this area?

Yes, absolutely. I think it's so important for teachers to be equipped with the training and to understand the link between inequality and all the things that come under that term, and challenging behaviour, and I think if teachers are aware of that, and trained properly to deal with that, the risk of exclusion will ultimately lessen. And I think with regard to how that can happen, I think, in some cases, mental health training and mental health awareness training is supplementary at times, with just teacher's training, but I think it should be embedded in the initial teacher's training, so that, more than anything, as well as being equipped with the skills, teachers have the confidence to deal with those really challenging situations.

I think that's the importance of a whole-school approach, and that being statutory, because that will ensure that everybody within the school community has that knowledge and awareness and knows what to do and where to signpost people. It means foregrounding and having that in the heart of the school ethos, and I think that turning the school into somewhere that considers mental health and emotional well-being first, rather than waiting for a problem—I think that's the key to improving the well-being of our future generations.

I just think it would be great if the community would recognise the link between inequality, adverse childhood experiences, and the opportunity that there is in avoiding a young person falling out of school, and out of anything, and out of sight. So, I think, the other side of this is that this is a real moment of opportunity to intervene positively.

11:20

Okay. Well, can I thank you all for attending and for your evidence. It's been a really valuable and worthwhile session. As usual, we will send you a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting, but thank you very much. Diolch yn fawr.

Diolch yn fawr.

Diolch yn fawr.

Diolch yn fawr. 

4. Papur i’w Nodi
4. Paper to Note

Item 4, then, is papers to note. Just one paper today, which is the Welsh Government's response to the committee's report on the scrutiny of the Welsh Government's draft budget 2020-1. Are Members happy to note that? Thank you. 

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 5, then: can I propose in accordance with Standing Order 17.42 that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting? Are Members content? Okay, thank you.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:20.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:20.

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