A POLTICIAN feels a school has acted far too hastily in implementing a foodbank, shortening days and expanding Wellbeing Rooms as part of efforts to boost attendance and support pupils with mental health difficulties. 

Rhyl High School talked about the new measures, which have been fully funded by the school, as well as pupil attendance figures - which have nosedived in recent years - as part of weekly news show BBC Wales Live which aired earlier this month

Adjustments are also being made for children who struggle with routines, sleep routines and anxiety; pupils can come in a later / can be away from crowds.

Gareth Davies, MS for Vale of Clwyd, criticised what he perceived as a hasty response to underlying issues that extend beyond the classroom environment.

"I feel the school are looking for knee-jerk reactions as a solution to problems that go way beyond the classroom and is the wrong way of doing things," he said.

"I've requested an urgent meeting with the headteacher Clare Armitstead to discuss this matter further and hope we can meet soon.

"I think what's important is that educational services in Rhyl High School should be fully and readily available for all students who attend the school as they currently are, to make sure that children can access lessons and learning material in the usual manner.

"Education is vital during teenage years and adolescence and any time spent away from the classroom or an education setting is a threat to the long-term prospects of pupil success and attainment at their exams.

"It's crucial that the school continues its outreach work and its work with external stakeholders to ensure that pupils and their families are supported in their communities by the correct services, if this is delivered properly, I can't see any reason to why there should be a reduction in learning hours for pupils at Rhyl High School."

"In the meantime, I would call on Rhyl High School, Denbighshire County Council and all involved to keep an ongoing review of the matter with a view to restoring a school pattern that would be representative of a workplace or professional environment outside the confines of school life to give pupils the best possible opportunities."

Rhyl High School say they have seen a dip in attendance [they are down six per cent compared to four years ago].

They have responded to challenges by doubling down on existing support services and wellbeing rooms - which are calm spaces, away from the classroom.


The school now runs three designated areas.

They have also introduced a foodbank on site to help build positive connections with parents and children. 

Ceri Ellis, deputy head teacher at Rhyl High School, said: "We've definitely seen a huge increase in anxiety, poor self-esteem and mental health issues. We're six per cent down on our attendance from where we were this time four years ago with punctuality and pupils are really struggling to get in on time."

She added: "At any one time we've probably got about 300 children, close to the third of the school, that access some kind of intervention support service.

"Without doubt there has been an increase in children that have been presenting as experiencing mental health difficulties. What we are finding is that whilst the provision is growing, the need is growing as well."