Counselling by any other name;Letter

25th June 1999 at 01:00
With the aid of "learning mentors", Mary Marsh (TES, May 28) tells us teachers can be freed to focus on learning and not have so much time taken up being social workers and counsellors. But where, she wonders, are the people "who have the skill to do this"? "Learning mentor" is, I assume, just another name for classroom assistant (CA), so the answer probably lies within her school.

Bearing in mind that the definition of "to counsel" is "to advise and recommend", it might be more profitable to look at those already in the school, performing counselling tasks on a daily basis.

The work CAs do may not be called counselling, but by the nature of their relationship with troubled pupils they have the core skills to be trained further.

I should imagine Mary Marsh will eventually find the social workers and counsellors she is looking for. I am pretty sure, however, that they will be doing nothing that a CA does not do daily.

Once CAs are given the recognition they deserve both in developing their skills and providing them with a career ladder and a salary scale related to their skills, then Mary Marsh will find that it is the CA which will make the jigsaw fit coherently into the bigger picture.

M G Stephenson Founder and chair Confederation of Learning Assistants with Specialist Skills (CLASS) 83 Maple Road Dartford, Kent

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