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16 January 2016

IGC Pre Budget Submission October 2015

Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) Pre-Budget Submission 2016

What IGC requires from Budget 2016

1.    That the Government affirms the statutory commitment to the holistic model of delivery of Guidance by a professionally qualified Guidance Counsellor as envisaged in Section 9 (c) of the Education Act 1998 by restoring the ex-quota allocation for guidance counselling.
2.    That the pre-2012 allocation of Guidance be restored under the pupil teacher ratio. We ask that the pupil teacher ratio be increased to allow schools get the allocation, they previously got under the ex-quota system. This would allow for the timetabling of all guidance counselling activities including time for one to one counselling.
3.    The pre- 2012 allocation having being restored would be ring-fenced for Guidance counselling and must be delivered by a fully qualified Guidance Counsellor. Annual school returns to DES must ensure that the guidance counselling allocation is fully delivered for the purpose it is intended.

Rationale

The holistic model of guidance counselling, which has the young person as its central focus has proven over the past forty years, to be the model best suited to the Irish education setting. One–to–one counselling – personal, educational and vocational - is the central component of this service to assist students to make choices about their lives and to make successful transitions from primary to second level and on to further study and/or employment.
Whole school guidance underpins this model, with the Guidance Counsellor at the hub of student support co-ordinating and providing an internal referral system. This collaborative school based approach is key in providing the continuum of support to all students. 

Guidance counsellor – A resource to implement Government policy

Section 9(c) of the Education Act (1998), states students have a legal right to access “appropriate guidance” (DES, 2005). Well Being in Post-Primary Schools: Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention - DES (2013). Acknowledges the central role of the Guidance Counsellor in promoting positive mental health in schools. Other Government initiatives including Anti-bullying, Wellbeing, job creation, mental health, School transition, Third level retention etc., all refer to the expertise of the Guidance Counsellor as insightful and making a positive contribution. A welcome national youth suicide strategy –“Connect for Life”- refers to training for all teachers and outside facilitators rather than availing of the in-school expertise of Guidance Counsellors. (DoH, June, 2015)

Proven Need - Summary of Research Findings at Second Level

•    24-25% reduction in Guidance provision, a 59% reduction in 1:1 counselling and 1 in 5 Guidance counsellors were working as full time teachers (IGC National Audit, 2011 –2014; NCGE Review of Guidance Counselling provision in second level schools, 2012-2013)
•    7 out of 10 schools have reduced the provision of one-to-one Counselling (ASTI)
•    30% of non - Guidance staff were working as Guidance Counsellors (TUI)
•    More guidance counselling required, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds (ESRI, HEA, SOLAS ‘From ex-quota to in-quota’, Prof. Harkin (2015)
•    1 in 10 children and adolescents experience mental health disorders (Child and Adolescent HSE Report, 2012)
•    Early intervention and the presence of one supportive adult are essential to promote positive mental well-being. (My World Survey, 2012)
•    Students submitting blank CAO applications has doubled since the cut to guidance
•    ACCS, JMB and NAPD are all calling for the restoration of the pre-Budget 2012, guidance counselling allocation.

Research on the impact of cuts on the Third Level/Adult Service

•    School leavers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds emerged as least likely to make successful transitions and completion of post-school education (ESRI, HEA, Solas 2014).
•    30%-40% of PLC students are presenting with a range of personal issues that prevent engagement with the curriculum and hence poor performance and progression.
•    AEGI do not have sufficient qualified Guidance Counsellors to deliver the FET strategy which has been approved by the Minister
•    Key influences on student withdrawal from higher education is due to insufficient information on the course (Student Led Learning Symposium, UCD, 2015)
•    IGC recognised guidance counselling training course providers (UL, UCC, NUI Maynooth, DCU, are experiencing a dramatic reduction in applicants – in some college’s applications down by more than 50% since Budget 2011.

The Government’s decision in December 2011, to remove the ex-quota status of guidance counsellor, makes implementation of Government policy and initiatives impossible, costing the state and its young people, particularly the socially disadvantaged. The government can uphold its commitments by increasing the pupil teacher ratio and using this to ring fence guidance counselling provision.

_____________________
Betty Mc Laughlin
President
Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC)