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23 January 2018

Press Release in Response to the Review of Guidance and Counselling announced by the Minister for Education and Skills,

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors, welcomes today’s announcement by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton. Minister Bruton has stated that there is to be a review of “career guidance in post-primary schools, further education and training centres, and higher education centres.”

We deliver personal, social, educational and vocational guidance work to jobseekers across their lifespan encompassing students from 1st year in post primary school to adult clients post retirement. Guidance counsellors fully support any initiative motivated by a wish to improve the quality and supply of resources available to us. We are highly motivated to engage in this review as its stated purpose is to support systems and tools which enable us to continue to deliver a world class service to all who we guide and support.

We look forward to engaging with the Minister and his department through the process of this review and to elaborating on the recommendations as laid out in our Pre Budget Submission 2017:

1.    That the Department of Education and Skills (DES) affirms to school management that the reduced pupil teacher ratio is ring-fenced exclusively for guidance counselling provision and delivered by a professionally qualified guidance counsellor.

2.    That the critical need for restoration of the 600 posts cut in budget 2012 is recognised and the posts restored. The IGC wishes to recognise that the Department of Education and Skills (DES) has committed to reinstating 500 out of 600 guidance posts withdrawn from schools in 2012. The reality is that because of the increase in the number and intensity of mental health issues presenting at our doors this is still inadequate. Various ESRI reports have also indicated that the existing service is inadequate and fails to address the needs of Junior Certificate students.

3.    That the AEGS staffing levels for the Adult Education Guidance Services which were also cut, are reinstated & enhanced. The AEGI services mainly deal with vulnerable adults, mainstream adults considering career progression also deserve the attention of a professional, qualified, supervised guidance counsellor.

4.    That the urgent requirement for an enhanced guidance allocation to facilitate the following is both recognized and actioned:
● delivery on new educational and vocational initiatives like apprenticeships
● contribution in a meaningful way to the new Well-Being Programme
5.    That, following best international practice, we move in partnership at national level towards:   
● the development of a Cross Ministerial Framework Guidance Strategy  
● the expansion of the National Skills Strategy to develop a National Skills Careers Database.

The IGC also wishes to acknowledge the work done by the ACCS, ETBI, JMB and particularly the NAPD in developing the “Framework for Considering Provision of Guidance in Post Primary Schools” which, by prescribing units of time for various functions, highlights the different aspects of the role of the guidance counsellor.

Guidance counsellors are very appreciative of the continued support and funding by the DES of professional counselling supervision for those guidance counsellors working at Second Level and in Colleges of Further Education. We applaud the objectives, contained in the Action Plan for Education 2017, including:
i)    increase the number and range of Apprenticeships
ii)    support and increase of resources to Lifelong Learning
iii)    accommodate an expected 25% increase in enrolments in HEIs. We believe that a properly resourced guidance service at third level could work toward reducing our drop our rates with a significant saving to the exchequer.

The Institute looks forward to a collaborative engagement with the DES to achieve Departmental goals as outlined in the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 and beyond.  Furthermore, as the professional association of members working with clients across the lifespan, the Institute seeks to work  in partnership, on a cross-ministerial framework basis, in relation to future planning initiatives and strategies, and in particular where these initiatives pertain to the development of guidance services and the specific role of the guidance counsellor within those services. Therefore, we genuinely welcome a review of the provision of professional guidance service to all citizens and look forward to working with Dr. Tom Collins to bring it about.

Beatrice Dooley
President of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors