Career guidance 'integral part of school'
CUTBACKS:THE DECISION to remove the specific allocation for guidance counsellors from second-level schools was a heartless one, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland president Brendan Broderick has said.
He claimed it would seriously undermine the valuable work that schools do in the areas of counselling and career guidance.
“Existing resources in schools are already completely overstretched. Now schools are expected to find extra hours for the provision of guidance, a service that should be an integral part of every school.”
A circular by the Department of Education late last year suggested schools might access guidance for students over the internet or from teachers of social, personal and health education.
In a recent survey by the union 30 per cent of schools said they would not reduce the guidance allocation but would have to lose hours elsewhere through subject loss or merging of classes.
“Schools wishing to provide the same level of guidance will have to take from somewhere else – perhaps by dropping a subject or reducing the number of classes in a subject,” said Mr Broderick.
“It has been suggested that some of the services provided by the school can be accessed by students outside the school. But often the very students who most need help – whether it is career guidance or counselling – are not in a position to access this help themselves.”
Addressing the teacher conference in Cork, Mr Broderick appealed to the Minister to reverse the decision, saying that counsellors provided a much wider range of services than career guidance.
He said the guidance counsellor was often the only support a young person had in a range of areas from mental health issues, to sexual health problems, alcohol and substance abuse and bullying.
“The curtailment of this service at post-primary will surely lead to an increase in early school dropout rates and young people getting into trouble with the law.
“Minister, it costs a lot more to keep a person in jail for a year than to maintain this vital service in a school: and the stark reality is that 90 per cent of prisoners are early school-leavers.”