Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD has responded to the publication of ESRI’s study on post school transition, pointing out that its conclusions support Fianna Fáil’s criticism of the Government decision to cut funding for guidance counsellors.
The ESRI report points to the relationship between social status and educational outcome, and notes the special reliance on guidance counsellors on behalf of young people from economically disadvantaged and immigrant backgrounds. It also says that young people from less educated and/or working-class families had less immediate knowledge of higher education in their social networks and, as a result, they were found to be more reliant on school-based sources of guidance.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “From the moment these cuts were announced, my party warned of the effect they would have and pointed out that they would hurt most those who are in most need of support. Successive Governments have made real progress on tackling educational disadvantage and increasing participation at third level. By contrast, this Government is making regressive decisions that are undermining all that work.
“The last Minister for Education relied on spin and misdirection to ignore our concerns and claimed that his decision would not have a negative effect. He was clearly wrong, and we learn from today’s report that guidance counsellors are actually spending less than half the time (41%) on one-to-one counselling with pupils that they were just two years ago.
“I had hoped that with a change of minister we might see a more constructive approach and just last month I raised the issue with the new Minister, Jan O’Sullivan. Sadly, it appears to be ‘business as usual’ in the department, and I was told that there was no scope for reversing this destructive measure.
“It is hard to believe that the Government will continue to ignore the problem following the publication of this new report and my hope is that now the Minister has been presented with evidence that her policy is actively holding back children from disadvantaged backgrounds, that she might finally be forced to rethink.”