Yesterday the Department of Education and Skills issued it's annual circular letter setting out staffing arrangements in post-primary schools for the 2012/13 school year. The purpose of the circular letter is "to inform all post primary school management and staff of the staffing arrangements for post primary schools for the 2012/13 school year including, in particular, the requirement to manage guidance from within the standard allocation.". The removal of the separate allocation for Guidance Counsellors commencing in the 2012/13 school year was announced in the budget measures in December last.
Section 4 of the Circular Letter, The Guidance Provision, states "As part of the budget measures guidance posts at post-primary level will no longer be allocated to any post-primary school on an ex-quota basis (i.e. the additional allocations for guidance provision will cease from September 2012). With effect from September 2012, guidance provision is to be managed by schools from within their standard staffing schedule allocation." and goes on to state that "Schools currently have autonomy in relation to how they use their standard staffing allocation for the provision of subjects to their students. This autonomy is extended as a result of the budget measure whereby the standard staffing allocation must, from September 2012, also be used for the provision of guidance to students."
Commenting on the publication of the Department of Education and Skills circular letter to schools ASTI General Secretary Pat King said “It is entirely disingenuous for the Department of Education and Skills to describe the axing of the guidance counselling teacher allocation to second level schools as an exercise in greater autonomy for schools. Rather than providing greater autonomy for schools, the Government is tying the hands of principals who are being forced to decide between reducing guidance counselling for students or dropping subjects from the timetable.” Mr King added that the Department circular provides no assistance or guidance to schools who will struggle to meet their legal obligations to provide appropriate guidance to all students.