Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue TD says student outcomes are being jeopardised by the Education Minister’s refusal to increase the number of guidance counsellors in our schools.  Changes brought in by this Government have seen guidance counsellor numbers reduced, with counsellors spending almost 60% less time with students than they did two years ago.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “The Government’s decision to manage guidance provision within the standard teaching allocation has not only placed a cap on guidance counselling, it is seriously undermining the work of counselling and counsellors.  One-on-one counselling supports have been halved in secondary schools, with an even greater reduction in disadvantaged areas.

“These regressive measures are already having a negative impact on the student experience, and have the potential to seriously threaten student outcomes.  Several studies have illustrated the benefits of career guidance in helping reduce early school leaving, improving transitions from education to the workplace, and an overall better use of educational resources.

“Fianna Fáil believes guidance counsellors are the only teachers in a school setting professionally qualified to provide guidance counselling to students.  Micheál Martin, as Education Minister, brought in the 1998 Education Act, which provided a legal obligation on schools to provide appropriate guidance.

“In our budget submission for 2015 we committed to make provision for vital service to be restored.  Guidance counselling provides students with the ability to make informed decisions about life choices.  It is an essential component of the secondary school experience and should not be treated as an optional extra”.