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Cuts to school guidance counsellors will create a crisis in secondary schools

1 February, 2012 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe TD believes the government’s decision to no longer provide School Guidance Counsellors on an ex-quota basis will cause a crisis throughout the secondary level school system.

Deputy Crowe was speaking in support of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors who today made a presentation to the Dáil’s Education Committee.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Guidance counsellors provide a professional counselling service to students at a fraction of the cost of other state funded counselling services. It is a service that represents exceptional value for money as they provide a wide range of supports for students who might otherwise have to wait for up to two years before being seen by outside agencies.

“In addition to pastoral, guidance counsellors give essential advice on a wide range of career options. They work with vulnerable students some of whom may be at risk of dropping out of school.

“Added to this is the actual cost to the state of funding a student in third level, estimated to be somewhere in the region of over €20,000 per year. Without appropriate guidance and information the numbers of students making wrong choices and dropping out of college will increase, at a huge cost to the individual and the state.

“Regardless of the pressures being faced by the government to implement budget savings, it is the view of Sinn Féin that cuts to frontline services in education that promote and support young people’s mental health must be considered untouchable.

“An EU observer recently pointed out that in Ireland, 50 people are unemployed for every job vacancy compared to the three to one ratio in Germany, the lowest it has ever been. This shocking figure starkly illustrates just how important the role played by guidance counselling in schools and they are essential in preparing school leavers so they are fully prepared for the labour market or further education to enhance their employment prospects.

“As the Irish Guidance Counsellor’s submission correctly points out, the reduction in a counselling service in schools comes at a time when young people urgently require the support of the counsellor in schools on a one to one basis. To contemplate reducing such a service is unacceptable and the minister is wrong to suggest that the decision as to the allocation of teaching resources in a school lies with school management.

“Removing the ex-quota guidance counselling allocation means that the service will be greatly curtailed. This at the very time when the role they provide within the school system is essential to the well-being of our student population. The minister must revise this decision immediately.” ENDS

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