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GTC wants more time for guidance

The General Teaching Council's task force on guidance overstepped its remit, Tony Finn, the council's education convener, admitted at last week's meeting in Edinburgh.

Launching a draft report on guidance, Mr Finn, head of St Andrew's High, Kirkcaldy, said the national investigation into this key element of schools went beyond the council's normal role but a review of guidance was overdue and the report was "highly significant".

Mr Finn said: "The demands on guidance teachers have continued to change and increase in recent years without a concomitant change in either the number of guidance teachers or the material support provided for guidance in schools. Our report suggests that schools must now be structured, resourced and staffed to meet these needs and that those who undertake dedicated guidance work must be appropriately trained."

Responding to comments from council members, Mr Finn said most criticism centred on what the report omits, rather than on what it contains.

Compton MacLeod, a Paisley primary head, appealed for additional staffing in primaries to allow time for individual counselling, while Bart McGettrick, principal of St Andrew's College, believed the report should contain a vision and philosophy for guidance. "There is a tendency to become sucked into targets and outcomes in personal and social education programmes. Guidance should not be going there," Professor McGettrick said.

Malcolm MacKenzie, a Glasgow University lecturer, said the radical question about guidance was "whether the guidance Green Paper (in 1968) got it right, building guidance into the promoted post structure?" John Gray, an Aberdeen history teacher, suggested the GTC's report was too "hidebound by tradition" and had not sought a fundamental enough review. "I look upon myself as a guidance teacher with a small g," Mr Gray stated.

The task force reviewed the literature and research on guidance, including HMI evidence, and absorbed the views of college staff, councils, advisers, unions and experienced teachers. Conclusions were tested in eight schools where good practice had been identified.


* Guidance teachers to provide support and advice in personal guidance and pastoral care, and curriculum and careers guidance. They should also deliver personal and social education programmes.

* Guidance teachers' work continues to increase and they should have more time for it.

* Selection procedures for guidance posts should recognise the desired qualities and skills.

* Every council to have a named person for guidance.

* Written guidance policies at local authority and school level. A member of the senior management team should be responsible for guidance strategy in schools. The original complement is said to be out of date and the number and level of guidance posts should be reviewed.

* Guidance evaluation and review should be built into school planning and schools should give priority in timetabling to regular and meaningful contact between guidance staff and pupils. The physical resourcing of guidance should have high priority.

* All teachers should have an extended professional commitment to their pupils.

* All student teachers and probationers to study guidance.

* A basic course in guidance must be seen as a minimum requirement for teachers appointed to promoted posts in guidance. The course must be taken before the appointment or shortly after. All guidance teachers should work towards the Certificate in Guidance.

* A review of guidance in primary and further education should be carried out by the GTC.

Comment, page 25

IT guide, PAGE 28

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