Written Answers. - School Guidance and Counselling Services.

Richard Bruton

Question:

91 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will issue a circular letter to schools in respect of guidance and counselling which will indicate the hours that should be allocated to this work and give guidelines in relation to priority activities. [19837/98]

Circular letters issued to the authorities of second level schools by my Department specify the hours to be allocated to guidance where additional posts have been made available on an ex-quota basis for this purpose. Where guidance is being provided within the school's normal quota of teachers, then the actual number of hours to be allocated has not been specified, although the relevant circular letters have stated that a reasonable portion of the guidance counsellor's time should be devoted to guidance work. The basis for determining the ex-quota allocation in respect of guidance was changed in 1995. The circular letter issued by my Department to individual schools at that time specified that the additional allocation arising from the change was to be used for the provision of guidance services only.

Guidelines for the practice of guidance and counselling in schools were prepared by the National Centre for Guidance in Education and issued to all schools by my Department in early 1996. The guidelines specify the various activities that should be expected of guidance counsellors. However, priorities will vary slightly according to the needs of each school. For this reason, the guidelines recommend that each school should develop a plan for guidance, which includes the setting of priorities. A working party in my Department has conducted a review of all the circular letters relating to guidance. It is producing recommendations for me, which will be discussed with the interested parties before any revised circular letters are issued.

Richard Bruton

Question:

92 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether guidance and counselling needs additional resources; the additional staff he has dedicated to this in 1997-8 and 1998-9; and the resources he plans to set aside in future years. [19838/98]

All second level schools in the free education scheme have an ex-quota allocation in respect of guidance. The ex-quota allocation in respect of guidance to individual second level schools in a particular school year is determined by the enrolment at the end of the preceding September. The allocation varies from 0.1 of a post to schools in the free education scheme with less than 100 pupils to 2 posts in the case of schools with 1,000 or more pupils. The total allocation in respect of guidance for the 1998-9 school year is approximately 567 whole-time teacher equivalents. A similar allocation was made for the 1997-8 school year. The question of increasing the allocation for guidance must be considered in the context of available resources.