By Richard Fraser, Editor
On 13 May 2020 the consultation Coronavirus and Me was launched to find out about the experiences of children and young people in Wales. This consultation captured information about the lives of over 23,700 children between the ages of 3-18, and ran for a two-week period during which restrictions in Wales had been in place for two months. The consultation was a partnership between:
- Welsh Government
- The Children’s Commissioner for Wales
- The Welsh Youth Parliament
- Children in Wales.
Summary of key findings
Are children worried?
37% of children and young people said that they were not worried about Coronavirus on the day they completed the survey.
A similar number (38%) felt the same level of worry that they had the week before, while smaller numbers felt more worried (12%) or less worried (14%).
What are their worries?
Some were worried about how long the situation would last, and they were worried that they or those they love will catch the virus.
Children who were not worried or were less worried said they felt they were being kept safe, daily numbers of deaths were decreasing, children were less affected, or they were avoiding watching too much news.
How are children feeling?
The majority (58%) of children and young people said that they have felt happy most of the time during the crisis and a large majority (84%) report feeling safe most of the time.
Young people of secondary age had more negative feelings than younger children, with 16% feeling sad ‘most of the time’.
2% overall said that they have ‘not very often’ felt safe.
What has impacted them most?
The top three responses from young people (12-18) on which stay at home rules have impacted the most on how they feel are ‘not being able to spend time with friends’ (72%), ‘not being able to visit family members’ (59%) and ‘school or college closing’ (42%).
Are there any benefits?
Many children and young people spoke of positive aspects of the experience of the Coronavirus crisis.
For many there has been a pleasure in spending more time with their family, learning new skills and enjoying the outdoors in gardens and during daily exercise.
For some, this period has also brought relief from previous social and health pressures such as mental health difficulties or bullying.
Do children know where to get help for their mental health and wellbeing?
The majority said that they know where to get help but only 39% of young people age 12-18 would feel confident seeking school counselling at the current time.
How confident do children feel about learning?
51% of the total said that they feel confident or very confident.
25% of total said that they lacked confidence, with 10% of this group saying they felt ‘not at all confident’. 24% of the total selected the neutral option.
But 12-18 year olds are reporting worries: only 11% of respondents in this age group stated they did not feel worried about their education, and the most commonly reported concern they had about learning was that they were worried about falling behind (54%).
Are children in touch with their schools?
Respondents overwhelmingly said they were contacted by their place of education, with only 1-2% of respondents across the different surveys reporting no contact.
What are barriers to home learning?
Themes emerging from a sample of 2000 comments show that many children would like more contact and support from their school, with more online provision. There are also specific challenges around access to electronic devices and pressures in the home environment, and other challenges faced by children with additional learning needs.
What do Year 6 pupils want?
Year 6 children overwhelmingly want to say goodbye to their primary school (76%) and visit their secondary school before school starts (75%).
How do young people feel about cancelled exams?
Only 17% of young people feel happy that exams have been cancelled. Young people were more likely to feel uncertain (51%) or worried (18%). Young people also report feeling angry (6%) and sad (5%).
Are all children able to use Welsh?
The majority of children in both Welsh-medium and English-medium education are continuing to use Welsh during this period.
Some children in Welsh-medium education are not getting any opportunity to use Welsh (8% of 7-11 year olds; 15% of 12-18 year olds).
Over a quarter of children in English-medium education who usually learn Welsh are not getting any opportunity to use Welsh (31% of 7-11 year olds; 26% of 12-18 year olds).
Are children still able to play?
Over half of children report playing more than usual (53%) with a wide range of online and offline play described including outdoor play, imaginary play, playing with toys or games, sports, and creative play.
Children's Commissioner for Wales:
Letter from Children’s Commissioner for Wales 20 May 2020