Action, quick before we lose our way on guidance

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Loretta Scott's letter of June 22 calls for pastoral careguidance to be accorded the status it deserves. While echoing the sentiment, I believe there are more fundamental reasons why recognition of the work undertaken by such staff in Scotland is needed.

For more than 30 years, "guidance" has featured as a central part of the secondary education system. It is a system unique to Scotland. That doesn't mean it wasn't in need of an overhaul, but it deserved better than the ambiguity of Happy, Safe and Achieving Their Potential.

This review left schools, heads and local councils with little in terms of direction, and left the hundreds of promoted members of staff with little hope or encouragement that their work was valued or, indeed, even safeguarded.

Guidance staff have been at the forefront of countless initiatives that have resulted in tangible improvements in achievement and attainment. To characterise their contribution as a support act is to misunderstand the links between attainment and emotional well-being.

These links are being increasingly realised, so now is not the time to abandon, or to leave to market forces, the future of guidancepastoral care. Action is needed, and soon, if Scotland is not to lose, through neglect, a unique and profoundly significant part of our educational heritage.

Mike Hough

senior lecturer, Faculty of Education, Strathclyde University

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