School guidance cut a mistake - FF


Cutting the school guidance counsellor allocation in last year’s budget was a serious mistake, Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue told the Dáil.

“If this Government is serious about addressing the growing problem of bullying and youth mental health problems, will it consider reinstating the guidance counsellors in second-level schools?’’

He said there had been effectively a €35 million cut in guidance counselling services. “That is matched with the allocation this year of €500,000 to the action report on bullying. It totally undermines any genuine attempt to tackle bullying in our schools.”

He said every TD was aware of the worrying surge in mental health problems among young people. Ireland had one of the highest youth suicide rates in Europe.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said greater responsibility for career guidance had been devolved to schools.

The changed structure was part of an overall approach, and Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn was adamant that mental health was the responsibility of teaching staff. The Minister had tried to ensure a “whole school approach’’ on the issue.

Mr McConalogue said schools had used the withdrawn funding of €35 million to provide guidance counselling services.

“The Minister told the schools that they need to continue to provide that service but instead find the money from their other resources. That is the background against which the Government is introducing the anti-bullying guidelines launched yesterday.’’

He urged the Taoiseach and Minister for Education to “give up the ‘oul rhetoric”.