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Press Release re: IGC Results of National Survey
For release 5pm on Sunday, 13th January, 2013
Cutbacks reduce school counselling services by 51.4%- leaving young people at further risk. The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) is concerned that there may be further reductions in the service as schools struggle with resource allocation
An independent national study among guidance counsellors in second level schools has found that last year's cutbacks by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) has led to a 51.4% reduction in the time available for one-to-one student counselling.
Overall there has been a 21% reduction in the time allocated to guidance and counselling services.
The study was carried out by Sheelagh Beatty (LifeCare Psychological Services) in two phases. Phase 1 was carried out in May 2012 prior to the DES cuts. Phase 2 was carried out in October/November 2012 when the cuts took effect.
The sample involved 240 schools, who between them currently employ 378 qualified guidance counselling staff. More than 90% of participating schools were Voluntary Secondary Schools (45%), Vocational Schools/Community Colleges (28%) or Community/Comprehensive Schools (18%).
The study found that the cutbacks have forced school management to divert guidance counsellors away from one-to-one engagements with students to more class room based duties; these include guidance and subject teaching. It found that the amount of time guidance counsellors are spending on class room based activity has increased by 19.8%.
President of The Institute of Guidance Counsellors, which commissioned the study, Mr Gerry Flynn said: “These findings reflect very badly on our priorities - at a time of greatest need among young people we are seeing the greatest reduction in counselling services.”
“Cutting one-to-one counselling service in half in the current environment where we are every day witnessing the increasing challenges facing young people such as bullying and other serious personal crisis is unconscionable. It's hard to see how it can achieve anything other than leave more young people exposed to risk,” he said.
“Reducing the opportunities for young people to have easy access to qualified counsellors is also completely at odds with Government policy and its stated commitment to help young people who may be vulnerable.”
Gerry Flynn said that guidance counsellors in schools across the country represented a unique network of skilled professionals with direct access to young people.
“It is the only network of its type where trained professionals are in the same location as young people day in day out over an extended period. They can provide the continuity of care and trusted support much needed by young people in a familiar non-threatening environment.”
“Guidance counsellors can identify young people who may be vulnerable and intervene with professional advice and support before matters escalate and require the input of more resource hungry state agencies,” he said.
“At this time we need to be fully exploiting this ready-made resource in our schools and colleges of further education, not trying to destroy it,” Gerry Flynn said.
The IGC's National Executive met on Saturday 12th January, 2013 and discussed the study's findings.
“Members are telling us that the drastic reductions in one-to-one counselling we have recorded are likely to have increased since the study was completed as school management have to decide whether resources should be directed towards subject teaching or guidance and counselling,” Gerry Flynn said. “We have to ensure that this service is not further reduced due to pressure on resources in schools”
“We would very much like to work with the Department of Education and Skills, parents and other agencies to determine how best we can restore much needed counselling services at the coal face, so to speak, by tapping into the existing national network of guidance counsellors,” he said.
For further information or to arrange an interview contact
Gerry Flynn, President of Institute of Guidance Counsellors 087-9958606
Elizabeth Tynan, Vice President, Institute of Guidance Counsellors 087-6755802
Betty Mc Laughlin PRO Institute of Guidance Counsellors 087 9964900