Since September 2012 guidance provision is now provided from within the overall staffing allocation of the school. This gives schools greater autonomy to determine how they deploy their teaching resources across the competing needs of the school. The surveys quoted by the Deputy focused on guidance counsellors and in particular on the time spent by them, in a one to one setting, giving career guidance and student counselling. It is important to note that guidance is a whole school activity and it does not just involve the guidance counsellor, therefore the implications of the survey are limited and taken predominantly from the Guidance Counsellors' perspective and less from a whole school perspective.
The representative organisations for School Principals and school management developed a framework that assists schools on how best to manage the provision of guidance from within their staffing allocation. Wherever possible, group work and class based activity should be used to maximise the amount of time available for those pupils that are in most need of one to one support when and where necessary.
While the school's guidance planning should involve and, where appropriate, be led by the guidance counsellor(s) in the first instance, other members of school staff and management also have key roles to play. Parents and students must be seen as an essential part of the process. Through this process schools can, for example, consider the following options for maximising the use of their available resources for the provision of guidance:
- Optimise the delivery of personal educational, career and vocational guidance in class group settings
- Enable students to use directly the extensive range of guidance tools available through the internet from relevant websites (e.g. Qualifax, Careers Portal)
- Enable some of the curriculum elements of the planned guidance programme to be delivered through other teachers such as SPHE staff
- Maximise the role of the pastoral care team in schools
- Ensure that the guidance counsellor has 1:1 time towards meeting the counselling needs of students experiencing difficulties or crisis, and
- Refer students with particular difficulties to outside experts who are specialists in particular relevant areas
I am confident schools act in the best interest of students when determining how best to use the teaching resources available to them.