Victims of bullying 'are being hit hard by school cutbacks'
CUTBACKS in school guidance services means that problems such as bullying are not being nipped in the bud and the long-term effects on students are even worse, according to counsellors.
The reduction is impacting on pupil attendance, behaviour and on vulnerable students who are struggling to deal with personal issues, they say.
The cuts mean that time spent on one-to-one guidance of students is down to 41pc of what it was two years ago.
Some 500 teaching posts have been lost across 700 schools, with many guidance counsellors now forced to carry out regular teaching.
The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) is preparing to make it an issue in the local and European elections and has enlisted parents to assist with the distribution of 20,000 leaflets. "The next few weeks presents us with a unique window of opportunity to make our voices felt about our young people, who are in critical need of help and support," said IGC president Gerry Flynn
The effect of the cutbacks, introduced two years ago, is dominating the IGC annual conference this weekend
Mr Flynn said the view that support services in schools were auxiliary as opposed to fundamental was reflected in government policy.
He spoke about the impact of cuts on frontline education services, such as guidance counselling, and said there were warning signs that young people were paying the price.
He said there was anecdotal evidence of problems, such as bullying, not being picked up at an early stage.
"Early intervention is not taking place and the problem is presenting in a more serious manner at a later stage," he said.