Freeze on career advisers to remain
THE Department of Education will not appoint any more guidance counsellors, despite half of Leaving Certificate students saying they felt "overwhelmed" when making life-changing decisions.
Guidance counsellors, who each have the responsibility for advising close to 500 school pupils, deal with twice the number of students they did in the 1980s -- a ratio described as "totally inadequate" by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC).
A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute carried out for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment found almost four out of five sixth-year students would have liked more information before making college and career choices. And around half said they felt "overwhelmed" when it came to making decisions that would affect the rest of their lives.
They also felt they didn't get enough one-to-one sessions with counsellors and said career guidance should begin a lot earlier -- even before the Junior Certificate.
However, the department said it had no plans to change the arrangement for the allocation of guidance posts at second level -- despite counsellors being considered as frontline workers and, therefore, not affected by the public sector recruitment moratorium.
The IGC said it was "no surprise" the guidance service was overburdened given the lack of resources and qualified staff.
IGC president Eilis Coakley added: "Given the unprecedented socio-economic changes since that time, the current ratio is totally inadequate to meet all the needs and expectations of students, parents and the wider community."
The department added that it attached "key importance" to the implications of subject choice at the start of and during junior cycle.