‘Needs of Weaker Students Should be Supported’ Minister addresses Institute of Guidance Councillors

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On Saturday 20th October, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills spoke to the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) National Conference 2018 in Dublin City University. The theme of the conference was Guidance Counselling – Flourishing in a Diverse Society.

The Minister began by addressing the schools and Higher Institutes of Education, stating that they ‘must provide quality education along with a holistic culture where the weaker and vulnerable students are supported.’ She agreed with Minister McHugh when he stated last week that teachers are overwhelmed with new initiatives and she pressed for consolidation of the work being done in schools, ‘not just regarding education as a series of soundbytes and press releases.’

Deficits in Student Supports

The Minister also spoke of the restoration of career guidance posts ‘As you are all too painfully aware, the Government in 2012 was forced to find major savings in State spending, due to the economic crisis which was raging throughout the world at that time. One of the cuts made was the removal of ex quota guidance posts in second level schools and colleges of Further Education.’

The current Government committed to restoring these supports, although they still have some way to go before reaching pre-recession levels. A policy statement on Wellbeing 2018-2023 was introduced last summer which aimed to meet the guidance needs of children in schools.  Presently, 500 guidance posts have been restored to schools from the 600. The guidance plan outlined how students should be supported and assisted in making choices and successful transitions in the personal and social, educational and career areas.


A recently-commissioned, independent career guidance review is being carried out by Indecon. The purpose of which is to ensure that quality, relevant career guidance information is provided to students from post–primary level up to further and higher education. The review is looking at the quality of information available to students and adults in relation to career guidance, the sources of this information and how the system is organised to support students and adults in this area. The reveiw results are expected in the coming weeks.

The government is undertaking a review of guidance provision at third level under a Programme Recognition Framework. The aim will be to ensure the supply of well-qualified guidance counsellors for schools.
The Minister said ‘The review has addressed the needs of the entire populations with whom guidance counsellors work, in schools, Colleges of Further Education, Third Level Institutes, and with adults outside of formal educational settings. The purpose of the review is to make sure that we are providing high quality and relevant career information to meet the needs of individuals in all those situations. The National Centre for Guidance in Education is also undertaking an audit of guidance provision in schools, which should identify potential recommendations for improvement’

However, previous cuts to third level education spending combined with the moderate increase in the 2019 education budget continue to raise concerns about lack of funding in this area, as well its impact on student experience and international rankings.


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