Date Uploaded: 16/05/2016
The most marked drop in the availability of guidance counsellor services since the economic crash has been in the country’s poorest schools, according to the organisation representing the sector.
Since 2012, Deis schools, or schools designated as being in disadvantaged communities, have seen a 30 per cent drop in overall practice hours while fee-paying schools have experienced a 1.9 per cent rise, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors has said.
“Guidance counselling is an entitlement of all, and not a luxury for only those who can afford it,” the institute’s president, Betty McLaughlin, said at the launch of a national audit.
Non-Deis schools have seen a 26.7 per cent loss in overall practice hours, the audit found. The audit is based on data returned by 376 schools, or 52 per cent of all schools and colleges of further education,
Overall, there appears to be a socio-economic hierarchy to the provision of hours for guidance counselling, whereby those who can afford to pay for it receive the greatest benefit, the institute said.
“Guidance counselling is on its knees, with guidance counsellors in 2016 struggling on a daily basis to cope.”
The findings emanating from the audit are stark and confirm that guidance counselling has been decimated since the introduction of austerity cuts in September 2012, according to Ms McLaughlin.
Overall, 26 per cent of all post-primary schools are Deis schools, and the audit finding of a disproportionate impact of the removal of the ex-quota allocation between Deis and non-Deis schools is in line with the recent ESRI reportLearning from the Evaluation of Deis, according to the institute.
The ESRI report said that “while Deis funding was largely ring-fenced during the cuts in public expenditure that have taken place since 2008 . . . other changes in educational policy have impacted, sometimes disproportionately, on disadvantaged schools. Such changes include the removal of the ex-quota allowance for guidance counsellors.”
The institute said equality of access to guidance counselling is essential for setting all students’ feet on the right path as they start out in life.
Journalist: Colm Keena