TWENTY-TWO full teaching posts could be lost in second level Co Louth schools from next September as a result of changes to guidance counselling provision introduced in the last Budget, according to The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).
Currently, schools have an additional entitlement to guidance provision which is based on the number of students in a school. However, if guidance provision is to be maintained from September it will have to be sustained from the general teaching provision to schools.
TUI area representative Ciaran O’Donnell said: “These cuts will leave school principals with some harsh choices. They will have to choose between cutting back guidance provision, limiting subject choice, increasing class sizes or a combination of such measures. “This latest cut to an education system already ravaged by a litany of cuts will result in significant further damage to the interests of students.”
TUI is calling for a review of the effects that the changes will have in schools and some a measure of alleviation to be introduced for the worst affected.
“Students only get one chance. The cutting of teacher numbers is a tax on the future of our young people,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“With year head posts no longer being filled as a result of the block on filling public service appointments, guidance counsellors are already struggling to offer the required support and care to the most at risk students all over the country.
“This new cut will have a hugely damaging impact on the life chances of the most vulnerable young people in schools. In addition to the support deficit, guidance on career options and choices will also be greatly stripped back at a time when it has rarely been more important.”
He added: “Despite this retrogressive measure, the Department has stated that schools continue to have a statutory obligation in relation to the provision of guidance.
“As teacher numbers are being cut, principals will have to look at how best to serve all students with the reduced teaching provision available.
“Those options that currently attract less students - for example Honours Maths or Physics - will inevitably be high on any shortlist of subjects under threat.
“Ironically, these are exactly the subjects we need to actively promote if education is to be a key driver in our recovery.”