In March 2020 Wales was put into lockdown because of Coronavirus.
It meant that life changed a lot for all of us.
And it meant that the way children learn, play, and get more help if they need it changed a lot, too.
This report is about what we have done since March 2020 to help children and young people in Wales.
It’s also about how children and young people have been helped by others like the Welsh Government, and if they could have done more.
You can read the full report in the link below, but we have also written a much shorter version on this web page.
When we knew about the lockdown we wanted to do four main things:
Make sure children, young people and families had information and help that they could trust.
To do this we created the Coronavirus Information Hub.
It has lots of information to help families stay happy, healthy and safe during the lockdown.
It also has lots of videos to help children and families play in their homes and their gardens.
It’s been used over 45,000 times since April 2020.
Schools, the Welsh Government, and Public Health Wales have helped us to tell others about it.
Check that children who need extra help were safe and getting the help they needed.
We made sure that places that look after children who need lots of extra care, like mental health units, had everything they needed.
We checked that schools were talking to children they were worried about.
We also checked that social services, who give extra help to families who need it, were able to speak to them and give them help.
And we were talking to the Welsh Government so they knew what to do if children weren’t getting the help they needed.
Make sure that children and young people are listened to
Nearly 24,000 children and young people told us about how they were feeling about lockdown through a survey, called Coronavirus and Me.
What children and young people said in the survey helped the Welsh Government, councils, and schools to help children.
Help the Welsh Government to hear how children were feeling and what they wanted to happen
We were speaking every day to different people in the Government to make sure they knew what to do for children.
We told them about the problems families were having, and we made sure they had the results of our survey straight away so they could use them to help children.
What about our other work?
We’ve kept doing all the things we were doing before the lockdown.
- We have kept helping children and families with their problems.
- We have kept listening to children about different issues by using video meetings
- We’ve kept telling the Government what we think they need to change in new laws and rules so that they do what is best for children.
There is a lot more detail in our full report.
Free school meals
Welsh Government made sure children who have free school meals were fed in the Easter and summer holidays too. We want this to keep happening all year round.
Play and exercise
People who work with children and organisations like the Urdd, Play Wales and Natural Resources Wales thought of new ways to help children play and stay active.
Through our Coronavirus and Me survey we found out that almost every child and young person had some contact with their school or college after the building was shut.
Keeping children safe
Social services teams stayed open and changed the way they worked to make sure they could still speak to children and families.
Mental health services stayed open for lots of children and young people and some offered support and therapy in new ways. Young people didn’t always need to go to their GP to see a specialist.
Children and families who need more help
Councils and Welsh Government worked together to make sure children who usually get extra help from school, college, nursery, or a group in their community were getting the help they needed at home.
There is a lot more detail in the full report.
Whenever the Welsh Government makes a decision that affects children, they need to show how they’ve thought about how it will their children’s rights.
Welsh Government didn’t always write down how their actions would affect children’s rights at the beginning of the pandemic.
And they stopped some important work they were doing to help children who usually learn at home, and go to private schools.
When they said they were stopping this work, they didn’t show how it would affect children’s rights.
The Welsh Government did not tell children or schools what they should expect to happen with online learning, and children across Wales had very different experiences.
Lots of children found it difficult to understand the work they were sent.
Lots of young people were unhappy about the exam results they received in August that felt unfair.
On 17 August, the Education Minister decided to give GCSE and A-Level students the grades their teachers thought they would receive. These are their ‘predicted grades’.
The Welsh Government has now asked a team of experts to look at how these results were given. This is something called a ‘review’.
Parks and libraries
Some parks and libraries stayed shut even after the Government said they could open again.
They are both very important places for children.
Information for children
Some of the information given to children and young people through the pandemic could have been clearer.
This includes information about exams and about how young people could complain about their results.
There is a lot more detail in the full report.
- We will keep listening to children’s experiences and tell the Government and others what they need to do to help children
- We will publish new reports showing how the pandemic has affected different groups of young people.
- We will look at why the Government has decided not to change the law to help children who learn at home, and to make sure private schools have to follow similar rules to keep children safe as state schools. You can learn more about this here.