There has been a huge increase in the professional “counselling” of schoolchildren in Vale of Glamorgan primary and secondary schools in the year April 2015 to March 2016.
An internal Vale council report reveals that in the last year a total of 478 children had at least one session with a “counsellor” – an increase of 96 on the previous year. 15 of those pupils counselled were primary schoolchildren.
Only 19 of the client schoolchildren were in care – what the council calls “Looked After Children” . [The low numbers of these children previously seeking counselling had worried the “multi-agency Management Board” which oversees development of the counselling service in the Vale of Glamorgan. It now sees an increase in the numbers of client children as “positive” ].
The report says that “104 young people identified themselves as having a special educational need or a disability, which equates to approximately 20% of service users, most of whom are within mainstream education.”
The main issues cited for referral to the counsellors are listed as “family, anger and stress issues”. During counselling sessions the issues highlighted also include “pupil self-worth” . The report notes that “Self-harm and depression are areas that appear to be increasing within both presenting and predominant issues, with self-harm spiking within the summer term. “
The total number of counselling sessions carried out last year was 3,049 – 289 more than last year with most of the pupils counselled (60%) being girls. Half of the pupils “self-refer to the service through various mechanisms including electronically”.
Three Vale schools in particular – which aren’t identified – have been targeted by the Management Board with the implementation of “Action Plans”.
After counselling, a survey of the children who received the service indicated that :-
- 97% counselling enabled them to talk about their feelings and thoughts.
- 96% felt comfortable with the counsellor and would use the service again.
- 71% reported improved relationships with their family.
- Of the 45% who reported that attendance at school was problematic prior to counselling, 74% reported that counselling had made it easier to attend.