Letter from The Midlands Branch of The Irish Guidance Counsellors Association
Dear Parents/ Guardians,
We are writing to you to highlight the announcement by the government in the last budget to remove the hours allocated to schools for Guidance Counsellors. We fear that many parents are unaware of the consequences for their children of this cut.
At the moment your son/daughter enjoys open access to the Guidance Counsellor for all her/his personal, educational and careers needs. This is a totally free service.
The loss of a guidance counselling service in our schools will result in the elimination of the following for your child:
• One to one Profiling: personality/interest/aptitudes
• One to one personal counselling for children in need
• CAO application appointments, help with form, change of mind etc.
• One-one UCAS (UK) applications, help with application system, courses, personal settlement etc.
• Visits to college/university open days
• Visits to career exhibitions
• Administration of aptitude tests to 3rd years, 1st years etc.
• Liaising with outside agencies on students’ behalf: Colleges, NEPS, Dept of Ed., HSE, FAS, etc.
• Interview preparation for UK college applications
• Individual subject choice guidance for first and third/TY years.
• HEAR/DARE access to college advice (for those with economic or disability needs).
• Parental appointments on all of the above issues
Education is the only way out of the current recession for our youth and parents will make great sacrifices to enable their children to access further education and training. It’s vital that students make the right choices yet they are now expected to make these choices without professional assessments and advice from experienced qualified professionals.
Ironically, the cost to the Irish tax payer of this “saving” will be enormous in the long term. Students will find themselves in courses for which they have neither interest nor talent. The current third level drop-out rate of approximately 30% is likely to hugely increase with serious financial implications for the individual students, their families and the State in terms of wasted resources.
Saddest of all, we are returning to a country we had hoped we’d left behind forever, a two-tiered Ireland where those with money can access the best supports, best information and best advice available. Individual, focused, informative guidance will be available only to those who can access it privately. Those students who can least afford it will find themselves suffering the economic, personal and psychological consequences of poor course / training choices.
Personal one-to-one counselling within school hours will also disappear completely. Students in need of such counselling will obviously suffer the loss of a huge measure of support and this will certainly give rise to further unacceptable hardship for them and their families.
We urge parents to contact their political representatives, their school managers, the Boards of Management and the trustees of their schools to use their collective influence to stop the erosion of this valuable, free service. Remember the Guidance Counsellor is the only professional person on the staff qualified to deal with careers and personal guidance and counselling.
Finally, we would like to thank Nicky McFadden, T.D., for meeting with four representatives of the Midlands Branch of the IGC. Ms. McFadden is a member of the Educational Committee that advises the Minister for Education. This committee will be meeting with the minister in the coming week. Following this a circular will be sent to the schools in early February outlining their decision. It is vital that parents’ voices be heard before it is too late. Ms McFadden would welcome your immediate input on this issue. You can contact her below:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare St, Dublin 2.
Fax: (01) 6184139
Constituency Office Athlone: Sean Costello Street, Athlone
Phone: (090) 64 78004
Constituency Office Mullingar: Dominick Street, Mullingar
Phone: (044) 93 90534
The Midlands Branch of The Irish Guidance Counsellors Association
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