Fianna Fáil has called on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to wake up to his mistake on changing the provision for guidance counsellors at second level.
Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Brendan Smith said, “Minister Quinn cannot continue to ignore the evidence proving just how damaging this cut will be to our education system in the long-run. He hides behind claims that the guidance counsellor service will be protected within the general staffing quota. But every single school in the country has already filled its staffing quota with teachers allocated to specific subjects. There is no space within the PTR allocation to maintain the guidance and counselling service without cutting other subjects.
“After Budget 2012 was announced, Minister Quinn and his Government colleagues boasted that they had protected front-line education services. And yet, from September, there will not be a single teacher in our second-level schools paid by the State specifically to help young people with the pressures they face in school and with making important decisions about their future. Two-thirds of secondary schools have already said that this may force them to drop critical subjects from their Leaving Cert programme.
“It is time for Minister Quinn to be honest with parents and teachers. The Budget that he claims ‘protects front-line education services’ will see disadvantaged schools around the country losing staff from September, rural schools and small minority faith schools losing teachers from September, and every secondary school in the country facing the end of one-to-one guidance provision and a significantly reduced subject choice.
“The Minister talks about having made tough decisions, but the fact is that he made a number of wrong decisions in Budget 2012. The damage will be immense, but it is avoidable. It’s not too late for Minister Quinn to do the right thing so that schools are not forced into a lose-lose situation of dropping critical subjects like physics, economics and chemistry or dropping their guidance counsellor post.”