Offaly TD says guidance counselling provision 'latest fudge' between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

Damian Moran

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Offaly TD says guidance counselling provision 'latest fudge' between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

Carol Nolan TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan has said that the provision of guidance counselling to second level schools is another example of a fudged deal between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

The Offaly TD was commenting after a circular, which was issued to schools does not make provision for ex-quota guidance counselling.

Teachta Nolan said, “while the recent circular issued to schools does reduce the pupil teacher ratio to provide the equivalent of 100 additional guidance counselling posts, it is important to note that there is no stipulation that these posts must be used for guidance provision.

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“Instead, schools must make provision for guidance counselling from within their staffing allocation on a whole school basis.

“In effect, this puts extra responsibility on teachers and does not provide for specific hours for guidance counselling provision as was done on the past with on an allocation of hours provided to each school on the basis of school enrolment numbers.

Deputy Nolan said it was a 'fudged deal' and falls short of what was stated by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael at budget time; that guidance counselling would be restored on an ex-quota basis.

“Of course, Fianna Fáil, despite their claims overlooked this matter in the Confidence and Supply Agreement and did not specify that the provision of guidance counselling would be made on an ex-quota basis," she continued.

“Perhaps, we should not be surprised as it was the last budget of the Fianna Fáil government that reduced the guidance counselling provision in the first place in 2011. The ESRI Leaving School in Ireland Longitudinal Study 2014 highlighted the fact that cuts to guidance counselling provision has impacted most heavily on disadvantaged schools.

She stated that it was not good enough that the most vulnerable children are forced to continue to pay for the incompetence of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

"These schools have been sold a pup and will feel very let down by the details of this arrangement. Sinn Féin made provision in our manifesto and in our alternative budget for the full provision of guidance counselling on an ex-quota basis of one counsellor per 500 pupils.

“We also published legislation in the last Dáil term to require the Government produce an in-depth educational impact survey on the educational impact of the reduction in guidance provision and we will seek to introduce this legislation at the earliest opportunity,” Deputy Nolan concluded.