Recovery from the covid-19 pandemic in Pembrokeshire has thrown up a number of issues, on top of the need to improve standard in education, including double the amount of young people needing mental health support.
The challenges facing schools are “many and varied” heard members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s schools and learning overview and scrutiny committee during an update from director of education Steven Richards-Downes on Thursday (September 30).
When it came to ensuring the well-being of learners there is “simply is not enough provision” to meet all needs, particularly when it comes to those needing additional support, warned Mr Richards-Downes.
Committee member Alison Kavanagh asked about the lack of provision, an issue across Wales, and whether more emotional literacy support assistants (ELSAs) could be trained, with Mr Richard-Downes saying he was talking about provisions from other agencies such as the health board.
He added that additional funding had been provided for school counsellors as well as extra support through youth services.
Overall, the numbers presenting to school counsellors is “more than double where we would have seen it before the pandemic,” said Mr Richards-Downes, although data is not collected on an individual school level.
He added assurance that there was the capacity to meet increased safeguarding referrals made in schools.
Some schools faced significant and inappropriate “backlash” from some parents when staff discouraged them from congregating at pick up or when encouraging mask wearing on site and there were contingency plans to deal with issues with a lack of bus drivers.
With another increasing issue schools faced being the number of letters they receive from “anti-vaccine campaigns” about covid-91 vaccines being offered in schools which is “simply misinformation,” said Mr Richards-Downes.
Councillors heard that there were no plans for schools to offer covid-19 vaccines and any roll out would be done by Hywel Dda Health Board with an invite to parents.