NORTH Wales MS Mark Isherwood has called on the Welsh Government to ensure that the welfare and well-being of school pupils affected by the pandemic is considered.

The call comes after a charity, based in Flintshire, highlighted “a significant increase in the numbers of young people in their care presenting with mental health issues and concerns.”

Questioning the First Minister before recess over how the Welsh Government is working cross-sector to provide mental health support for children and young people, Mr Isherwood said the charity have told him that many children have been “traumatised” by their own unique experiences of the pandemic and asked what action is being taken to address this.

“They [the charity] say many children and young people have been affected, even traumatised, by their own unique experiences of the pandemic," Mr Isherwood said.

"Issues including bereavement, isolation, fear of illness, of death, family breakdown, poverty, unemployment, substance misuse and domestic violence were all hothoused due to the unavoidable nature of successive lockdowns and the vastly reduced access to usual support networks, both formal and informal.

“They add that children and young people who feel emotionally unsafe or in pain do not learn well. How do you, therefore, respond to the charity’s call for the Welsh Government to ensure that Estyn and other regulatory bodies are fit for post-pandemic purposes, with an emphasis on the well-being and welfare of pandemic-affected pupils and indeed staff also?”

The First Minister replied: “I think that Estyn has adapted its way of working very much to take into account both the practical impact that the pandemic has had on the way that teachers have to go about their work, but also to take into account the impact that these experiences have had upon young people, their ability to learn and the way in which they bring those other aspects of their lives with them into the school and into the classroom.

"And, in the information that I have had about the changes that Estyn has made to its own ways of working, and the focus of the inspections and other work they do in school, I think, can give us some confidence that the very proper points that the organisation in Flintshire has raised are being taken into account seriously in the work that they do.”