Fianna Fáil will today call for a full reversal of the Government’s decision to dismantle the provision of guidance counsellors to schools, resulting in the elimination of 700 teaching posts and the end of a service relied on by the nation’s most vulnerable students.
Fianna Fáil will introduce a Private Members Motion this evening condemning the Budget measure, calling on the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to explain the rationale behind it and urging him to publish any impact analysis carried out to assess the effects this will have on the career guidance profession and on vulnerable students.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Brendan Smith said: “Minister Quinn has already admitted that he is out of practice and made mistakes in last month’s budget. It is now time for him to realise that removing the special provision for guidance counsellors is one of them. This is an increase in class sizes through the back door and will result in 700 secondary schools around the country losing qualified guidance counsellors.
“What Minister Quinn has done here is use smoke and mirrors to introduce an increase in the teacher pupil ratio. By doing so he has forced schools to now choose between either cutting an essential service to students or dropping another subject, leading to a reduced subject choice. This is a lose-lose situation for students and a retrograde step for education in our country.
“Guidance counsellors provide a critical service in encouraging students to choose appropriate education and career pathways and also offer advice and support relating to a range of personal issues. They are professionally trained to provide far more than career advice, with most guidance counsellors acting as a support to more vulnerable students.
“I am urging Minister Quinn to do the right thing and acknowledge that this is a particularly damaging mistake that must be reversed. Government TDs have the opportunity over the next two days to stand up for their local schools and ensure that current staffing levels and class sizes are maintained, and retain the essential guidance counsellor service.”