independent

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Wexford school at centre of counsellor cuts storm

AN ATTEMPTED suicide by a County Wexford secondary school student has lead to the Department of Education revising a decision to cut guidance counselling and other supports in schools across the country.

A male, third- year pupil sought the advice of a guidance counsellor the day before being hospitalised in a ' very distressed state', intent on 'serious self-harm.'

Proper counselling was unavailable to the young man as a result of department cutbacks limiting the amount of guidance hours available to students, with guidance counsellors instead being instructed to return to the classroom as regular subject teachers.

E-mails were sent from the year-head at the student's school to Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn highlighting the importance of counselling services and the effect that cutbacks were having.

The letter pointed out that, ' due to cutbacks, her availabililty [ for counselling] has been halved'.

The teacher also went on to say that the need for counselling is growing further. ' This morning, I had three young boys present themselves to me in a distressed state. Two of the boys were upset over the attempted suicide, as they had received 'Goodbye' text messages.

As a result of the email, the department announced that it had allocated an additional eleven hours a week for counselling to the Wexford school with immediate effect, after discussions between members of staff at the school and senior officials in the department.

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