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“It is entirely disingenuous for the Department of Education and Skills to describe the axing of the guidance counselling teacher allocation to second level schools as an exercise in greater autonomy for schools,” ASTI General Secretary Pat King said today.
Commenting on the publication of a Department of Education and Skills circular letter to schools today, Mr King said: “Rather than providing greater autonomy for schools, the Government is tying the hands of principals who are being forced to decide between reducing guidance counselling for students or dropping subjects from the timetable.”
Mr King added that the Department circular provides no assistance or guidance to schools who will struggle to meet their legal obligations to provide appropriate guidance to all students.
“While the Circular rightly states that the person assigned to guidance must be a qualified guidance counsellor, its suggestions that schools ensure that guidance counsellors have enough one to one time for counselling students experiencing difficulties or crises, and that schools should maximize the role of their student support/ pastoral care teams, are aspirational in the extreme. Schools are already coping with the dismantling of their pastoral care structures due to an in-school management moratorium. Now they face the loss of guidance counselling hours.”