Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Select Committee - Thursday, 25th March, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.



Public Open Forum


No members of the public were present.


Young People's Mental Health: To discuss with the Youth Service children and young people's concerns around mental health.

Additional documents:


Charlie-Jade Atkins and Josh Klein presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


What sort of information are young people after, in terms of relationships and sex education, problems of body image and social media, respect and consent, etc.? How can we help with that?

We recently had a very good conversation with a young person in a secondary school, who had sent an email to their headteacher voicing concerns and feedback about sex education. We met with her and it was very insightful. She was alarmed at her friends’ lack of knowledge. The areas discussed were: being safe physically and emotionally, contraception and protection, how to get to know the person one is with, peer pressures, family values, who to talk to in order to have good conversations, feelings of guilt and shame, the complexity of female pleasure, expectations and self-esteem, anatomical correctness, and the effect of social media such as Instagram. We have worked with a lot of young people during lockdown who have issues with self-esteem and body image, to the point where some of the people we saw in person prior to lockdown chose not to interact with us via video calls. Our online consent form includes a choice for how young people wish to interact with us; a lot of them have decided that they would prefer to do so by phone call or text, rather than video call. This applies to girls and boys. Revenge porn and sexting are other big concerns, as is knowing where to go for help, information and contraception, as well as consent, managing risks, and the consequences of not doing so.

It’s great that they are so aware of what they want. Sexual health clinics could be much less degrading and clinical. Perhaps a sub-group would be useful to work on these matters?

The young people are already having these conversations and are looking for someone to talk to – the Friday Friendlies have begun to serve this purpose. This would be a good place for councillors to attend and join the conversations. Cabinet Member Sara Jones recently attended one on Gender Equality, giving her the chance to speak and listen to the young people, which was very helpful.

Martyn: When we talk about sex and relationships education, one thing we see time and again when things reach a crisis point with violence against women, is that the perpetrators are male. There is a huge problem with a gender divide. Looking to the new curriculum in Wales, there is a big role for youth organisations to be in schools and influence what is taught.

We are working on the Participation and Shift projects, through which we are seeing things first-hand. Perhaps there aren’t enough of us working on these areas. Development of the new curriculum is a great opportunity for the Youth Service to be involved. We have been invited to the meeting of the secondary school staff responsible for developing SMRSE: we are going to identify  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Feedback from Estyn: Verbal update from the Chief Officer on the feedback from Estyn recently communicated to the Council.


Will McLean spoke to the members and answered their questions.

The letter that we have received from Estyn captures very well the work that we, our schools, and EAS colleagues have done, to ensure the transition throughout this period has been as effective as possible. The letter is in two segments: March-August 2020 and September 2020 onwards. Spring 2021 has been a period of lockdown and remote learning for many, and Estyn will continue their work with us to assess and discuss how that period of time has been managed as well. We have maintained our half-termly Local Authority Link Inspector visits, to ensure the Inspectors understand our position and the decisions we are taking.

Some things to draw out from the letter: in terms of Leadership and Collaboration, we are pleased about their recognition of our communication and clear expectations for schools, and that members have been kept up to date with events as they have unfolded. The quality of questions and level of challenge from members has been good.

There are interesting reflections about how we have worked with the schools. We have never had a ‘one size fits all’ approach – we recognise that each of them has a different set of pressures, building layout, community, etc. We have set clear parameters and expectations for schools but then given them the flexibility to respond as best fits their local needs.

The letter discusses our decision about the end of term; our children came back for three weeks in the summer, meaning we didn’t have the extra week of holiday in the autumn term. Schools were only allowed 30% pupil capacity at that time. In essence, children missed one day at the end of the summer term but gained 5 days in autumn. Because of low transmission levels in Monmouthshire, many of our children had an uninterrupted autumn term. The letter recognises that this wouldn’t have an equal impact on learners, which we have addressed in our planning and expectations.

Another positive is that Estyn spoke to our schools, who said that they felt well supported by us. The paper also recognises the good work undertaken by colleagues in education and social services to ensure that the needs of the more vulnerable learners were met. It talks about the supply of technology to ensure that blended learning was effective, and the way in which childcare hubs were established, and places were guaranteed for those children who would need them. Now, with a little hindsight, we can recognise that speed with which our colleagues worked, the commitment they showed, and how they worked alongside headteachers. Speedy establishment of childcare hubs was a very good example of our commitment to joint working.

The document is very positive about our relationship with EAS. We have been clear throughout the pandemic that we have different roles: the role of the local authority has been to support schools, ‘tactical responses’, etc., while EAS has provided the right levels of professional learning to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Children and Young People Select Forward Work Plan pdf icon PDF 486 KB


The draft Annual Report will come to the next meeting. Consideration of FSM children and those from families with lower incomes would be useful in the near future. Following up on the work of the Youth Service will be explored, with the suggestion of one item per meeting for those issues.



Cabinet and Council Work Planner pdf icon PDF 162 KB


To confirm the minutes of the previous meetings held on : pdf icon PDF 475 KB

·         19th January 2021

·         11th February 2021 (Special) – To Follow

Additional documents:


·         19th January 2021

·         11th February 2021

The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



To confirm the date and time of the next meeting as 20th April 2021