Guidance under threat

Your report on the concern of the Glasgow children's committee on the plight of the mental health of the city's under-17s (TESS, March 8) refers to claims that "young people want more access to guidance teachers or someone outside of school they can talk to". Piloting a school-based counselling service is suggested as a way forward.

The leading article picks this up and suggests that "busy teachers intent on delivering the hard-edged curriculum miss the signs of trouble. Many would not be trained to recognise them." But many are trained, they do exist and they're called guidance teachers.

Yet the whole basis of their continuation is under threat, not only in Glasgow but across Scotland. This is a direct result of the teachers'

agreement which removes one tier from the promotion structure and, by default, will remove more than 50 per cent of guidance teachers from their current posts by August next year.

Until there is a universal system in every school across Scotland, why dismantle the current system that was set up specifically to offer "more than feelings of concern" to school pupils?

Guidance staff have been, and continue to be, trained in counselling and they have direct access to young people in every secondary school.

Surely, if these same young people are asking for more access not less, we owe it to them to halt the blight that is threatening to destroy a uniquely Scottish system that has been around for over 20 years and proved its worth time and time again.

Michael Hough Senior lecturer Faculty of Education Strathclyde University

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