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The place of guidance

It is difficult to read this week's edition without being forced to acknowledge the often impossible job teachers have to do. The debates swirling around the Executive's inclusion policies (page five) and the latest figures on children's panel referrals (page six) make for depressing reading. These stories represent the real world in which schools have to operate and the raw material with which they have to work.

How timely therefore that into this brew the report of the guidance review (page three) comes astirring. On the face of it, there is not much excitement in a set of recommendations that eschews prescription and leaves schools to get on with it. But this is in line with the new mantra of 'flexibility' and schools, having complained about strait-jackets for years, can hardly complain.

The report makes the fair point that what matters is not how guidance is structured, but the use that pupils make of it. The inexorable logic that all teachers therefore have a guidance role will not play well everywhere, particularly in secondary schools, and the discordant notes have already piped up. This is about how secondary teachers see themselves, which goes right to the heart of their professionalism. The guidance report is by no means inconsequential.

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