Posts in Category: Children, Young People and Education

Neath Port Talbot Council supports schools with home learning (Neath Port Talbot CBC) 

Schools supported home learning throughout the lockdown period.

Neath Port Talbot Council surveyed all of their schools on their distance learning provision and a Continuity of Learning Plan was written and shared with all schools as a result.

The survey identified any shortcomings with regards to training and support required and council officers supported any school that required technical support in order to deliver distance learning.

The council has provided over 1000 devices for pupils with no appropriate IT equipment and / or internet access.

In preparation for re-opening, all NPT schools prepared recovery plans and risk assessments based on the guidance provided by the council school improvement team and Welsh Government, and the council provided guidance on Blended Learning. During reopening, the council ensured Headteachers received weekly support to update them on key developments and to discuss concerns. A dedicated FAQ portal was established.

“Virtual” Model for delivering Youth Services (Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC) 

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s (RCT) Youth Engagement and Participation Service (YEPS) is committed to supporting young people aged 11 to 25 to improve their resilience to deal with current and future challenges, supporting their well-being and their positive engagement in and contribution to the communities in which they live.

The new ‘Virtual’ delivery model has been swiftly developed and rolled out which in addition to instant messaging services, virtual youth clubs on zoom and instagram Q&Q sessions etc, includes WICID.TV, for young people not engaged in education, employment or training, which features instructional videos on a range of topics, such as applying for a job, STAR techniques, virtual job interviews and more videos are being added on a weekly basis. The Employment, Education & Training (EET) section also includes links to apprenticeships on offer in RCT, Career Wales support, college virtual open days etc. In partnership the Council were also able to offer the first virtual work experience week in RCT, which encouraged many post 16 young people to go on-line to source careers advice, etc.

School catering initial response to Free School Meals (FSM) (All Wales) 

Following the announcement from Welsh Government that statutory education would be suspended from mid-March 2020, one of the biggest concerns was how to provide for those children eligible for FSM during this period. In the first few weeks Local Authorities (LAs) provided school packed lunches to be collected from schools, local hubs or delivered to the homes. However, take-up was low and waste was high therefore not sustainable in the long-term.

Welsh Government generously announced that £7M was to be made available for LAs to provide FSMs to eligible pupils during the Easter holidays and a further £33M up until the end of the summer holidays. In response, WLGA hosted and managed online national and regional meetings with LA caterers and Welsh Government to track and share information about school catering response and issues. These meetings contributed to the FSM Guidance issued by Welsh Government.

During this initial period LAs developed and refined their provision in line with their local need and demand and offered the following options: direct payments (17), food delivery (10), food vouchers (8) or a pick-up service (1). However, the majority of LAs offered multiple options, which worked well and demonstrated the importance of a local approach to support their local communities.

The WLGA developed and issued each LA with Making the most of your FSM food vouchers or payments leaflet for distribution to parents, providing useful tips on planning, shopping and preparing nutritionally balanced food, along with a suggested shopping list. Data Cymru also collated data on the response of LA’s to providing FSM during this period.

Further information on the initial response can be found in the ‘Overview of FSM responses to COVID-19 in Wales’ presentation

Monmouthshire’s Youth Council - Engage to Connect (E2C) (Monmouthshire CC) 

Engage to Change (E2C) is Monmouthshire’s Youth Council, responded to the Covid-19 situation quickly by scheduling on-line weekly meetings. The aim of these sessions is to ensure that the voice of young people in Monmouthshire’s needs continue to be heard and supported.   

Initially, E2C discussed the experiences, issues and emotions that they and their peers were having in the early stages of lockdown and invited Dr Sarah Brown (Clinical Psychologist, Gwent Community Psychology, Aneurin Bevan Health Board) on how young people could develop resilience. As result, young people helped generate content for the Youth Service’s daily stories on Facebook and Instagram, including on the service’s ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’.  Young people were involved in trialling social media platforms that were used by the Youth Services’ digital work offer for on-line youth and lunchtime clubs and drop-in sessions. 

E2C has maintained contact with the South East Wales Regional Forum and currently progressing the Ucan project as part of the Welsh Government’s Additional learning Needs Transformation Fund. Working regionally has enabled E2C share experiences with young people from other geographical areas, developing relationships and support networks, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

Recently E2C have started to host weekly Q&A sessions with decision-makers to discuss issues identified by young people, such as mental health, transport, education and Monmouthshire’s priorities identified in the British Council Make your Mark consultation.

Targeted Outreach Project (Caerphilly CBC) 

Gwent Police were having a number of issues with young people not following lockdown rules and contacted Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Youth Services for their support in engaging with young people. It was agreed that police and the Council’s youth outreach staff would undertake joint patrols to engage young people about COVID–19 safety precautions. This also enabled youth services and police to check on their welfare and provide additional support if required. Youth Service staff have been out with police 2 – 3 times per week, working with different neighbourhood policing teams across the borough.  The patrols focused on areas where anti-social behaviour has been identified or where groups of young people have been seen. There were a few initial difficulties as some young people were not so keen to talk with talking to police, but this was overcome due to youth worker being with them and encouraging the young people to engage. There has been a reduced level of anti-social behaviour across the borough, and there have been less sightings of young people, which has led to the amount of support required by police being reduced.

“Great partnership work...supporting young people during this time...we must be proactive...and not just wait for issues to be raised...being visible will provide reassurance and encourage young people to reengage with us...” Chief Constable Pam Kelly, Gwent Police @GP_PamKelly

Schools Hub (Torfaen CBC) 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures, Torfaen Youth Service has been part of a team operating the secondary age hub for children of key workers and vulnerable young people.  The Youth Service’s primary role has been to facilitate and deliver all activities to the young people. In addition the Youth Service has created a ‘mini’ hub in one of its youth centres, working closely with Social Care and Inclusion services for a small number of significantly vulnerable young people who need higher levels of support. In the Hub young people have taken part in cooking, gardening and team building exercises etc. Young people have independently engaged in the hubs, some of whom have needed 1:1 support to access formal learning.  Young people who are concerned and anxious about parents and family members have found a safe space that they can enjoy and value coming to @torfaenyouth

Virtual Learning Environment Platform (Pembrokeshire CC) 

Pembrokeshire Youth Homelessness Team have adapted their practices to engage, educate, inform and support both young people and professional colleagues.  These initiatives include: Tenancy Skills & Homelessness Awareness Courses delivered through a blended learning programme; Interactive sessions with access to youth workers, as well as a repository of resources and a range of challenges, quizzes, work tasks and videos, will be hosted via a Virtual Learning Environment Platform (VLE). Individuals work will be set and monitored through this platform, with opportunities to access our physical learning environment in the Independent Living Centre (ILC) on a controlled appointment only basis. These sessions will be planned to coincide with key learning milestones achieved in the VLE. Those lacking the ICT skills to complete via this platform will be offered extra face to face sessions. Those without an appropriate device will be loaned one.

Guidance for Staff on the Re-opening of Youth Centres and face-to-face support (Ceredigion CC) 

Ceredigion County Council  understand that this period has been, and continues to be, a very difficult time for all. Children and young people have not been able to spend time with their friends, peers and support staff such as youth workers, whom many see as trusted adults. There is growing evidence that this lack of interaction impacts on young people’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing, so the Council are preparing and planning the re-opening of face-to-face provisions such as youth centres as safe, educational and fun environments once again. The Guidance for Staff document is for staff delivering support and interventions within the local authority youth centre buildings, however many aspects can be related to other family and education based settings and aligns with objectives set out in the Council’s COVID-19  Phase 3: Adjustment Phase and Long Term Resilience Strategy

NB: this guidance is based on current information (18 June 2020) and will be updated accordingly.

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The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) represents the interests of local government and promotes local democracy in Wales.

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