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130 domestic abuse incidents seen or heard by children reported to Swansea police in last month

A TOTAL of 130 domestic abuse incidents were seen or heard by children and reported to police in Swansea last month, councillors were told.

These reports were shared with council officers – one of the ways the authority tries to ensure it can identify vulnerable young people during the coronavirus restrictions.

Helen Morgan-Rees, director of education, said some of these 130 reports might not have been new cases, but that the council was asking schools to be vigilant.

The number came up in a discussion about vulnerable children in an education policy committee meeting.

Councillors were keen to know how the authority was getting the right help to hard-to-reach families.

Officers said the social services and education departments were working very closely, and that young person most at risk was on their radar from the outset and given support.

However, as the first lockdown went on last year, schools were asked to get in touch with the education department if children who weren’t previously on a particular risk list were starting to cause them some concern.

Mrs Morgan-Rees said:

“We did end up with over 3,000 names on that list.
It’s those emerging vulnerabilities that we are interested in continuing to monitor.”

Vulnerable learners include pupils with additional learning needs, disabilities, behavioural challenges, mental health and anxiety issues, and those who are looked after or on the child protection register.

Alison Lane, head of Swansea’s additional learning needs and inclusion team, said a “really effective” emotional and psychological welfare team had been set up to support pupils. It provides counselling and bereavement support, among other things.

She said education officers carried out face-to-face assessments when safe to do so, and that regular “check-ins” also took place with vulnerable learners.

Families in particular need were offered targeted support, for example with childcare.

Vulnerable learners in Wales are receiving face-to-face tuition at schools, as well as children of critical care workers.

Foundation phase pupils from all schools are due to go back to the classroom from February 22, with older ones returning over a longer time frame and in line with the latest scientific evidence.

Mrs Morgan-Rees said:

“As time goes on, we are getting concerns about mental health and well-being, particularly girls.”

It wasn’t just feelings of depression, she said, but de-motivation, disaffection, and disengagement.

“They are losing potentially their motivation,” she said.

The meeting also heard from Amanda Taylor, headteacher at the new £9.6 million Maes Derw development in Cockett, which comprises a pupil referral unit (PRU) and other support services.

She said face-to-face learning had been maintained with year 11 PRU pupils – with a 60% attendance rate.

Mrs Taylor said PRU primary pupils would return to school two weeks after half-term, and then key stage 3 pupils a week later.

She said pupils with anxiety and mental health issues tended to get on better with online learning than those with behavioural challenges.

All PRU pupils, she said, had been allocated a key worker to keep a check on their well-being, and were also contacted by their form teacher and, in the case of older pupils, subject teachers as well.

Mrs Taylor added: “I think our relationship has strengthened with parents.”

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