Offaly students are missing vital support structure

Students across the midlands are suffering significantly from the government’s decision to cut to the guidance provision in schools as evidenced by a damning new survey on the impact of the cut.

Students across the midlands are suffering significantly from the government’s decision to cut to the guidance provision in schools as evidenced by a damning new survey on the impact of the cut.

Offaly TD Barry Cowen has called on Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to reverse the cut after a study by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors confirmed that guidance services in schools have been decimated.

Deputy Cowen commented, “This must be a wake-up call for the government. The study unfortunately confirms the fears we had when Minister Quinn pursued this cut in Budget 2012. We have consistently said it was a huge mistake to dismantle a service that has taken years to develop and has benefit thousands of students from Offaly and across the midlands. The cut to guidance provision is having a major impact on the most vulnerable students and particularly those in more disadvantaged schools.

“The IGC study shows there has been a 51% reduction in one-to-one counselling in schools since the start of this academic year and that services in disadvantaged schools in particular have plummeted since September. On top of that, 13% of guidance and counselling services are now being delivered by unqualified staff with no specialised training. This is an extremely worrying development.

“Minister Quinn seems to completely underestimate the importance of guidance for students from qualified counsellors. This service is now falling to teachers who are already under pressure with their subjects and in many cases students are less likely to seek out teachers for one-to-one guidance who don’t specialise in the area.

“At a time when pressures have increased in families across the midlands students need more support not less. The government’s decision to cut guidance counsellors was regressive and short-sighted. It’s not too late for the government to see sense and reverse this cut and restore a vital support structure for students.”