Figures proffered by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn indicate that the cut in guidance counselling is even more severe than was claimed by counsellors.
Preliminary findings of a DES-commissioned survey show that most schools are losing one hour a day of guidance services because of staffing changes introduced in September 2012, and larger schools are losing more than twice that.
Minister Quinn said the survey sought by his department showed that guidance hours had been cut by 25%. A poll of schools carried out by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors in January had put the cut at 21%.
The preliminary findings of the study by the National Council for Guidance in Education were outlined by Minister Quinn at the council’s national conference on March 1.
The Council surveyed more than 250 schools and found that:
- the reduction was an average of five hours a week in schools with between 400 and 700 students;
- About 140 schools with more than 700 students had suffered an average cut of 11.5 hours a week;
- Four hours a week were being lost in the 280 schools with enrolments of less than 400.
Gerry Flynn, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), said:
“The minister failed to refer to a huge reduction in one-to-one counselling, as the IGC survey found counsellors now have less than half the time they previously had for this work.”
Mr Flynn added:
“There is a lot of evidence from principals and other sources that demand for counselling services is actually increasing.”
[Niall Murray, Examiner, 2 March 2013]