The Taoiseach has refused to recognise the severe impact on secondary school children of the cut to the guidance counsellor provision last year.
Questioning Enda Kenny during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today, Fianna Fáil’s Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue accused the Government of taking a ham-fisted approach to tackling bullying in schools.
“While the bullying initiative launched yesterday is certainly welcome, its potential will be completely undermined by the simultaneous slashing of one-on-one supports at second level,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“There has been a massive 51% reduction in one-on-one counselling supports in secondary schools this academic year since Minister Quinn removed the ex-quota allocation for guidance counsellors in Budget 2012. Secondary schools across the country are being expected to prevent bullying with one hand tied behind their back.
“This deeply worrying reduction in one-on-one supports for students, coupled with the lack of investment in promoting positive mental health within the school system, makes a mockery of any genuine attempt to tackle bullying and help those affected. Getting tough on bullying is one thing – treating the causes and symptoms is a different thing entirely.”
Deputy McConalogue expressed his disappointment that the Taoiseach again refused to recognise the severe impact of the guidance counsellor cut.
The Donegal Deputy said, “The usual rhetoric trying to excuse this is simply not good enough. Mental health is the single most critical issue facing young people today. We do not need another terrible tragedy to show us that we are not doing enough to support our young people. And yet the Government is burying its head in the sand by attempting to justify these cuts.”