The above Bill, if enacted, would place a duty on local authorities in Wales to provide counselling services in secondary schools. It is currently at the first stage of the legislative process, during which the Assembly's Children and Young People Committee will consider the general principles of the legislation.
Commenting on the Inquiry, Karen Cromarty, BACP's Senior Lead Advisor, with special responsibility for children and young people, said:
"Since the Welsh Government implemented a strategy to ensure that all secondary school pupils in Wales would be able to access counselling, we have seen improvements in the well-being of children and young people in Wales who have accessed the intervention. Counselling has since been associated with significant reductions in psychological distress, with approximately 85% of young counselling ‘clients' feeling more positive about going to school and more able to cope in general. Senior teachers also report that those who have had counselling have improved attainment, attendance and behaviour.
"When the strategy becomes statute, and the current School-based Counselling grant is devolved to local authorities rather than retained centrally as a specific grant, it will be more important than ever for the Welsh Government to ensure that the funding is spent in the spirit of the strategy, ensuring that the current quality provision is maintained for children and young people throughout Wales."
In summary, BACP's response to the inquiry is as follows:
- BACP believes there is a need for the Bill to make provision for counselling services and maintain the current quality provision when the current School-based Counselling grant is devolved to local authorities rather than retained centrally as a specific grant.
- All children and young people should have access to professional, qualified counselling services in their school.
- Counsellors should not have a dual role in the school alongside for example teaching. These proposals provide that important independence.
- It is crucial that young people who are not educated in mainstream school settings also have access to counselling when they need it.
- It is welcomed that the Bill places a duty for local authorities to compile information about the independent counselling services. This will enable the Welsh Government to continue to monitor the extent of counselling provision and the effectiveness of the provision.
BACP's detailed response to the Inquiry can be viewed on our website: www.bacp.co.uk/policy/ssob.php