Developing School Counselling Services for Children and Young People in Wales

Robert Smith, Liz Phillips

16 September 2011

In response to a range of social issues and recommendations in expert reports, public policy in Wales has promoted the notion of counselling, broadly defined, in recent years. The Welsh Government's Strategy for School-Based Counselling will invest £14.25m during 2011-14 to develop these services which will be delivered through a learner centred approach where young people are able to self-refer and use their language of choice. This will focus on young people in secondary schools although pilot projects are also being undertaken in primary schools. This NFER publication provides an overview of the development of schools counselling to help school leaders and practitioners to develop the services in their institutions. This is in the context of the rights-based approach adopted by the Welsh Government in relation to all policies concerning children and young people.

Key Findings

  • Young people access counselling for a range of issues which typically include family-related matters and experiences of bullying, behavioural issues, emotional problems, depression, self-harm and suicide.
  • Early intervention through counselling is seen to contribute to better attendance and engagement with learning as well as promoting young people's broader wellbeing.
  • There is evidence that the provision of counselling had proved effective in promoting the wellbeing of young people and supporting schools' pastoral systems by providing additional professional support.
  • There is a need to ensure that provision is adequately resourced and that clear guidelines govern delivery to maximise its effectiveness, This includes a need for protocols about the relationship between counsellors and schools.
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