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Written Answers - School Staffing

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 34.  Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his plans to address the problem at a school (details supplied) in County Wexford at which three guidance counsellor positions are about to be lost; his views that this is particularly serious in a school which [303]has had three suicide-related deaths in the past two years alone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2902/12]

 38.  Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will confirm if schools are still required to provide an appropriate level of guidance provision following decisions taken in budget 2012; what he deems appropriate guidance to be; the way he will ensure that schools continue to provide a certain level of guidance provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2905/12]

 41.  Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if the likely loss of school guidance posts contravene section 9(c) of the Education Act 1998 which states that one of a school’s functions is to ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices. [2948/12]

 91.  Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the important pastoral role which guidance counsellors play and the scale of youth suicide, if he will review the changes as outlined in budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3101/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 38, 41 and 91 together.

All schools must continue to provide guidance to their pupils. However, from September 2012 guidance provision will be managed by schools from within their standard staffing allocation. As things currently stand and before any changes are made, 42% of second level schools do not presently have a full-time guidance counsellor.

Schools will have autonomy on how best to prioritise its available resources to meet its requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to its students. Decisions on how this is done will be taken at school level and I am confident that schools will act in the best interest of students when determining precisely how to use the teaching resources available to them.

Guidance is a whole school activity and under existing arrangements each school is expected to develop a school guidance plan as a means of supporting the needs of its students. These requirements have not changed and my Department’s forthcoming Circular will make this clear and point schools to the relevant documentation and guidance available to support such work by schools.

In this way, the main teacher allocation can be maintained at 19:1 for schools generally, while schools will have discretion to balance what they allocate for guidance against the competing demands of providing subject choice.

I have also provided for the filling of 300 Assistant Principal posts in second-level schools over the level originally planned. This will ensure that schools have sufficient management positions to ensure appropriate supports are available for all students.

A key priority for me is to continue to prioritise and target available funding at schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. All 195 second-level school in DEIS will be given targeted support by a more favourable staffing schedule of 18.25:1. This is a 0.75 point reduction compared to the existing PTR of 19:1 that applies in non-fee-paying second-level schools.


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