Parents campaign over cuts to career guidance

 

A GROUP of parents have come together to campaign against proposed changes to the allocation of career guidance counsellors.

They have set up a website, ParentsAgainstReallocation.com, and are encouraging parents to call and email the office of Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.

Up to now, career guidance teachers were employed from outside the teaching allocation, in the same way that principals and vice-principals were employed. However, Mr Quinn has said that, from September, schools will no longer receive a specific allocation for such counsellors. This could see many of them returning to the classroom as subject teachers.

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors has claimed up to 700 guidance posts could be removed as a result of the budget cut. The parents’ campaign against the cut was started by Caitríona Lawlor who has a son in secondary school. She said the decision would force school principals to make choices between appropriate guidance counselling or dropping the number of subjects taught.

“This decision is a cruel blow to students attending our 800 secondary schools who are all entitled to have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their education and career choices. There will be fewer teachers, fewer subject options, and no option at all to provide support to students who struggle in their personal lives.”

Ms Lawlor encouraged parents to email Mr Quinn’s office and to contact Fine Gael and Labour headquarters as well as the offices of local representatives. She said there had been a particularly strong reaction to the campaign from parents in the Cork region, as well as in Kerry, Wexford, Waterford and Dublin.

She said guidance counsellors had a separate and distinct role in helping second-level students in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. These teachers could act as a lifeline to distressed, vulnerable young people at risk.