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You are here:>>Home>>Press>>Schools may face litigation over poor guidance for pupils
Schools may face litigation over poor guidance for pupils
The Irish Times - Thursday, February 2, 2012
by SEÁN FLYNN, Education Editor
SCHOOLS could face legal action from parents if pupils are not given proper guidance and counselling, an Oireachtas committee heard yesterday.

Gerry Flynn, deputy president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), said school boards of management faced potential litigation if an unqualified person gave inappropriate advice to students.

Mr Flynn was speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Education which considered recent cuts to guidance services.

The IGC has claimed that up to 700 guidance posts could be removed from schools as a result of budget cuts. Under new measures announced by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, schools will no longer receive a specific allocation for guidance counsellors. This could see many guidance counsellors returning to the classroom as subject teachers.

Mr Quinn has said that 42 per cent of schools do not have a full-time guidance counsellor.

Eileen Coakley, IGC president, said school principals were being asked to choose between a service and a subject. While all teachers were engaged in pastoral work with pupils, only guidance counsellors provided a qualified, professional service.

She distanced herself from remarks by former IGC president and a contributor on career issues to The Irish Times Brian Mooney that the guidance cuts could lead to suicides among young people. She said that was not the view of the IGC; it had no wish to get involved in an emotional defence or use emotional language.

The committee was also told that cuts to a modern language programme in primary schools ran counter to stated Government policy. Tanya Flanagan, national co-ordinator of the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative, said the cost-effective programme had given 27,000 pupils in more than 500 schools the opportunity to learn a modern language. The cutback meant that the only children with modern languages would be those from multi-lingual families and those who could afford private tuition.
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