Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (362)

Seán Ryan

Question:

503 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will report on her proposals to reinstate the original quota of one ex-quota counsellor to 250 in the post primary sector. [25013/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

Under current arrangements, my Department makes a specific ex-quota allocation of teaching posts in respect of guidance to schools in the second level system. In the case of schools in the free education scheme, the level of allocation ranges from eight hours per week in the case of schools with enrolments below 200 pupils to 44 hours per week, that is two whole-time posts, in the case of schools with an enrolment of 1,000 pupils or more.

In addition to allocations based on enrolments, 50 whole-time equivalent guidance counselling posts were allocated in the 2001-02 school year under the guidance enhancement initiative. The focus of this initiative was to enhance the provision of guidance to young people at risk, improve links between schools and the world of work and to improve the take-up of science subjects. In allocating resources for guidance and counselling under this initiative, my Department set out criteria which target resources at those most in need rather than allocating them on the basis of student-to-guidance counsellor ratios. The preliminary findings of the review of guidance and counselling carried out by the ESRI confirms that this method of targeting resources for guidance is the best way to reach those students who are disadvantaged.

My predecessor recently announced an extension of the guidance enhancement initiative for a further two years and created an additional 30 guidance posts under the initiative from the commencement of the current school year. This decision reflects the high priority given to guidance by my Department.