Guidance system supports all pupils

The headline "Guidance fails care kids" (TESS, August 2) misrepresents the content of the article and does an injustice to those working in guidance in Scottish secondary schools.

The guidance system, which has been a unique feature of the Scottish education system for over 30 years, is designed to offer guidance and support to each and every pupil. It was never intended as a remedial support to a few.

It is a system that is under pressure and change is required on a number of fronts but the change that guidance teachers are against is the onslaught by local authorities to reduce and diminish the depth and scale of guidance provision.

Guidance teachers have criticised the post-McCrone agreement for its very lack of the mention of guidance. Their concern is that the changes local authorities are introducing will mean less guidance, not more. To suggest that they "strongly defend traditional patterns" against a "gradual extension" of guidance is a serious misrepresentation of the truth.

As an indication of the commitment of individual guidance teachers, they undertake continuing professional development in their own time and in many cases at their own expense. Local authorities have cut back on their support for training, and for financial support for those who want to attend programmes in guidance.

The concerns identified in the article are with secondary schooling in general. This is evidenced by the reference that schools should "pay more attention to artistic, physical and practical aspects of education".

Perhaps so, but this is not the domain of guidance. This is about a restructuring of the school curriculum. No guidance teacher would be against involving young people in "decisions about their schooling . . . providing anti bullying policies and practice . . . creating respectful, safe school environments". In fact their contribution to schooling is aimed precisely at these objectives.

Let us hope the promised national review of guidance puts the record straight.

Mike Hough Senior lecturer Faculty of Education Strathclyde University

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