Friday, December 2, 2011

Government Planning Cuts to School Guidance Services

It has emerged today that the Irish government plan on making dramatic cuts to the provision of guidance and counselling services to second level schools. Currently guidance hours are allocated to schools based on the number of pupils in the school - see this circular for more information. This provision is outside the normal teacher / pupil ratio. However, the upcoming budget looks set to remove the ex-quota allocation of guidance counsellors, instead including the service with the normal teacher / pupil ratio. 

Such a change in guidance provision would have a devastating effect on the provision of guidance and counselling in Irish second level schools and will see guidance competing with subject areas within the general school allocation and non-timetabled counselling. This will ultimately lead to job cuts - most likely to guidance counsellors but also to general second level subject teachers.

There are a number of serious concerns to this proposed change. The adoption of such a policy would mean many students - principally the most vulnerable - could be without access to one to one counselling support for a wide range of personal problems and issues including low self esteem, family breakdown, mental health issues, self harm, bereavement , stress management and more. 

Students need guidance services to help them make important educational, career and personal decisions - right throughout their school years - while guidance counsellors are extremely important to the pastoral care structures of secondary schools in Ireland.

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), in a statement earlier today, point out every students' right is to ‘appropriate guidance’ is mandated under section 9 (c ) of the Education Act. The Teaching Union of Ireland have also come out strongly against the proposed changes calling the cuts "unthinkable". The IGC are also calling for their members to lobby their local politicians, managerial bodies and trade unions in an effort to stop the government making these proposed cuts.

I think this is pure madness! I'd like to hear your opinion.