A summary of the group’s purpose and how it will work.
Purpose of the Group
The Task and Finish Group has been established by the Welsh Government to take forward the whole school approach to emotional well-being and mental health, as part of a whole system approach which also recognises the links between mental and physical well-being. In achieving this, the Group will have regard to the recommendations and findings in the Children, Young People and Education Committee Mind Over Matter report (April 2018).
The Mind Over Matter report highlights the need for a ‘step-change’ in emotional and mental health support for children and young people in Wales. As such we need to review existing policies and practices on children and young people’s mental health; identify gaps in provision; and, develop new and effective ways of working to accelerate improvement of the support system for children and young people.
As the Mind over Matter report highlights, and as set out in our National Mission, school is a key setting to support and promote positive physical and mental health and well-being. For this reason, we are taking a “whole school” approach, situating the school at the centre of the work of the group.
However, this approach needs to be seen in the context of a “whole system” approach which recognises that school is at the centre of activity, but has a range of interdependencies which extend beyond the classroom to home, community and services provided by other statutory and non-statutory agencies.
The Group will ensure that policy and practice across government supports positive physical and mental health and well-being for children and young people. This will be taken forward in a cross-government and cross-sector way, seeking advice from sector experts, children and young people, and others to ensure that the UNCRC is at the heart of this work.
For the purpose of this group, the work streams will be broken down into “whole school” and “whole system” so that appropriate focus can be given to both.
The principles underpinning this are:
- Support must be both universal and targeted.
- Support must be appropriate, timely and effective.
- Support must focus on prevention, restorative practice and on effective and timely intervention when this is needed.
- Support should avoid the medicalisation of children and centre the needs and the wishes of the children and young people involved.
- Support should be provided through a multi-agency approach, and should include building skills for effective multi-agency working.
Support should be provided to the education sector and in particular schools, to build capacity for them to support children and young people in turn.
Programme membership and structure
Accountable to the Cabinet Secretaries for Health and Social Services and for Education (co-Chairs) the Task and Finish Group will provide strategic leadership, direction and support, to implement the whole school (part of a whole system) approach to improve the emotional well-being of children and young people.
The Group will meet three times a year. Suggested membership is as follows:
- Cabinet Secretaries for Health and Social Services and Education (Joint chairs)
- Lynne Neagle AM, Chair of Children, Young People and Education Committee
- Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales
- Charles Janczewski, LHB Vice Chair representative
- Carol Shillabeer, NHS Lead Chief Executive for Mental Health
- Dr Dave Williams, CMO Adviser on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Dr Julie Bishop, Public Health Wales Director of Health Improvement
- Aled Evans, Association Directors of Education Wales
- Paula Vaughan, Primary Headteacher
- Chris Parry, Secondary Headteacher
- Andrew Jarrett, Association Directors of Social Services, Heads of Children's Services
- Joanna Jordan, Welsh Government Director Mental Health, Corporate Services and Governance
- Steve Davies, Welsh Government Director of Education
- Albert Heaney, Welsh Government Director of Social Services and Integration
- Jo-Anne Daniels, Welsh Government Director Communities and Tackling Poverty
- Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer
- Dr Liz Davies, Welsh Government SMO (GPs)
- Prof. Jean White, Chief Nursing Officer
- Mark Campion, Estyn
- Debbie Harteveld, LA Schools Consortia
- Prof. Simon Murphy, DECIPHer (schools health research network)
- Liz Gregory, LHB Clinical Psychologist
- Cllr Huw David, WLGA
Members can nominate a deputy, though for continuity and recognising the need to maintain senior stakeholder engagement, deputies would only be acceptable for no more than one in three meetings, as individuals have been invited recognising their senior role as strategic influencers and decision takers.
The Group will be supported by a Stakeholder Reference Group and Senior Officials Group. The Senior Officials Group will comprise of Welsh Government policy leads whose work relates to the whole school or whole system approach. The Stakeholder Reference Group will encompass a wider range of public sector, third sector and other relevant organisations or people. Children and young people will have the opportunity to inform, develop and shape activity.
Frequency of meetings
The Group will meet at least once every Assembly term (three times per year), and can convene informally on a more frequent basis should this be required. The Group is time-limited and will run until the end of this Assembly term (May 2021).
The role of the group will be to agree and oversee implementation of the work-plan; advising on issues, barriers and activity to overcome them as they arise; and representing the views of their sectors and area of expertise as it impacts on the development and implementation of activity over the lifespan of the programme.
The Group’s draft work-programme is attached at annex a and will span the period until May 2021, though will be a dynamic and evolving document which will reflect the Group’s current thinking and priorities as activity develops over the two and a half years of the programme’s life. In taking activity forward the Group will take account of wider activity, including specifically the on-going work of the NHS-led Together for Children and Young People Programme.