A fragmented guidance system just won't work

18th April 2003 at 01:00
AS was predicted at least a year ago, fragmentation of the guidance system in schools, still regarded as an essential support to our young people as they pass through the education system, seems the most likely outcome if 32 local authorities each formulate their own solutions.

How can the different approaches in Glasgow, West Lothian and other authorities ensure that all pupils across Scotland are able to access consistency and quality in the personal, curricular and vocational support they are entitled to?

The experience and expertise of many hard-working assistant principal teachers of guidance will be lost, since the various models refer to reduced numbers of promoted guidance staff. The loyalty and commitment of APTs guidance have been greatly undervalued; the expectation that many will continue in their role with no formal acknowledgement of their position is insensitive in the current climate of uncertainty in our schools.

Three years after the publication of the McCrone report, very few local authorities have made final decisions or published their plans, which are due to be implemented in August. Not unexpectedly, these decisions will be subject to budget restrictions. As they are devolved to headteachers, these must also be within existing budget conditions.

In February last year, the Scottish Guidance Association called for a national review to establish standards of guidance entitlement for all pupils and to identify conditions in terms of task, time and training, through examination of best practice, which would enable these standards to be delivered in every school. The national review was recommended in the Better Behaviour Better Learning report, but only recently has the contract for the management of the review been advertised for tender.

The timetable for the review process is mystifying. Surely if statements of guidance entitlement and conditions of provision had been agreed and published in advance of local authority deliberations, then their discussions would have been considerably better informed and a more consistent model of delivery across Scotland would have emerged.

Assuming the national review does eventually get under way, completes its task and national standards are published, then another round of discussion, deliberation, planning and implementation will follow and so ensure that relative peace in our schools is still a dream for the future.

Alex Edwardson

President

Scottish Guidance Association

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