Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (40, 47)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

40. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of guidance hours being provided at individual secondary schools for the current academic year following on from the removal of the ex-quota allocation for guidance counselling in budget 2012; if he is committed to monitoring the hours being provided in each school in future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/13]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

47. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in view of the publication of the New National Guidelines on mental health and suicide prevention in post primary schools, which are designed to provide an enhanced framework to dissimilate information for schools and agencies supporting schools in mental health promotion and suicide prevention, the decision to withdraw the ex-quota allocation for school guidance counsellors undermines these efforts; and if he will reverse the cuts to school guidance counsellors.. [11750/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 47 together.

The guidelines on mental health promotion and suicide prevention are based on schools taking a co-ordinated whole-school approach to preventing and, where necessary, tackling these issues. This involves building and integrating school self-evaluation processes, implementing the SPHE curriculum, developing the whole-school guidance plan, adopting the NEPS continuum of support, and building effective inter-agency relationships. Schools have autonomy on how best to prioritise their available resources to meet the requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to students. This operates at local school level. Therefore, my Department does not have the type of detail requested by the Deputy.

The representative organisations for school principals and management developed a framework that assists schools on how best to manage the provision of guidance from within their staffing allocation. This was a very positive and proactive response to a difficult budget decision. Initial findings of a recent comprehensive survey by the National Centre for Guidance in Education on schools provision for guidance would suggest that even though there has been a cut in the allocation, schools continue to prioritise the guidance programme and within it have increased group work and class-based activity at senior cycle. This approach maximises the amount of time available for those pupils that need one-to-one support.