Schools move to support anxious students with online counselling

Guidance counsellors in regular contact with vulnerable pupils online since school shutdown, finds Education and Training Boards Ireland survey

Secondary schools are working to support stressed and anxious students by providing counselling supports online. Photograph: iStock

Secondary schools are working to support stressed and anxious students by providing counselling supports online. Photograph: iStock

 

Secondary schools are working to support stressed and anxious students by providing counselling supports online.

A survey by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) - which manages one third of all secondary schools - has found that many of its schools are now providing wellbeing , counselling and subject choice support online.

Guidance teachers and chaplains are in regular contact with vulnerable students and have also prioritised meeting the needs of exam classes who tend to report higher levels of stress and anxiety.

The findings are contained in a survey of the country’s 16 Education and Training Boards which have about 450,000 students across the primary, secondary and further education sectors.

Online

Overall, it found that the sector has moved quickly to adopt online platforms, tools and technologies.

The survey found that youth organisations are also staying in contact with young people online by providing one-to-one support over Skype and other forms of remote communication.

Across primary and post-primary schools, the survey found that use of technology such as Microsoft Teams and other software packages is helping to ensure continuity of teaching and learning.

Broadband

However, the survey also found access to broadband and the availability of devices remained an issue for some learners.

In such cases, alternatives to technological solutions such as resource packs had been delivered by post

Local ETBs acknowledged that while schools and centres have responded very well to the current crisis, they said it was important to not overestimate what can be done regarding teaching and learning.

However, it said supports to learners will significantly improve in the next few weeks as staff become more familiar with the circumstances and available technologies.

Nessa White, the ETBI’s general secretary, expressed appreciation to all of its staff and students for adapting to the challenging circumstances.

“I am very proud that we have been able to ensure the continuity of the education of our students and learners,” she said.

“ I would ask all learners and ETB staff members to ensure that they adhere to Government guidelines in place during this period. I have no doubt that we will overcome this difficult period, and that in the meantime our community of learners will be provided with the education, training and support they deserve”.