Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (249, 293, 294)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

249. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reversing cuts to guidance counselling; and the estimated cost to ensure one counsellor for every 500 students. [34701/19]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

293. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore guidance counsellors to one per 500 pupils ex-quota at post-primary level. [35213/19]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

294. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore guidance counsellors to one per 500 pupils ex-quota for DEIS schools. [35214/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249, 293 and 294 together.

Measures announced by my Department as part of Budgets 2016, 2017 and 2018 mean that 500 of the 600 guidance posts that were withdrawn in Budget 2012, were restored to schools from September 2018.

These 500 posts are allocated separately and transparently on each school's staffing schedule. These posts have been ring-fenced so they can only be used for guidance activities and to meet the guidance needs of the school.

The cost of restoring the remaining 100 posts is in the region of €4.8m. This will be considered in the context of future Budgets, however there are needs across the system which have to be balanced in the decisions made in each budget.

It is important to note that in previous changes to guidance counselling allocations in 2012, DEIS schools were effectively sheltered from the changes as a result of a more favourable staffing schedule which is more beneficial than an allocation of 1 per 500 pupils.

The provision of one guidance counsellor per 500 pupils in non DEIS schools would result in an estimated 200 additional posts at an annual cost of c. €9.6m.

The Department has committed considerable resources towards the restoration of guidance counselling hours to post-primary schools, to the provision of CPD for guidance counsellors and to the provision of a national guidance counselling supervision service for post-primary guidance counsellors.