Pupils To Get Counselling Service

A counselling service for pupils is to be set up across Wales after recommendations were made following an inquiry into sex abuse by a teacher.

The £6.5m plans for the independent service for children were announced by the assembly government.

The move follows the Clwych inquiry of 2004 which looked into sex abuse by a teacher in south Wales.

Calls for child protection measures were made after it emerged he had abused pupils at the school.

The late Peter Clarke, former Children’s Commissioner for Wales, recommended an independent service in an effort to give children a way of taking any concerns they have to someone who could help.

Money for the scheme will be spent over three years and will be divided up between the 22 local authorities.

But, there is a shortage of counsellors with between 150 and 200 more needed in Wales.

The school-based scheme will cost £6.5m and would be initially available to secondary pupils.

There are discussions to see if the service could be extended to 10 and 11 year olds as they move from primary school to secondary school.

The funding will mean approximately £1m will be spent in the first year and around £2.5m in the second.

Jane Hutt, education minister, said: “The emotional well-being of children in Wales is paramount.

“Consultation with young people in Wales and across the UK consistently tells us that what they want when they are unhappy, afraid or distressed is an adult who shows them respect, is competent and respects their confidentiality.

“This is what we will be providing across Wales.”

She added: “I want to see professional counsellors who specialise in working with children helping young people cope with the social, emotional and psychological problems that can affect them as they grow up.”

Keith Towler, the new Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “We have a responsibility to monitor how this is implemented to make sure that children value, recognise and see the service in place and actually use it and have confidence in it, so we will be keeping a close eye.

“This is about promoting healthy mental health and this is about making sure children and young people feel support and have someone that they can listen to,” he added.