Demands never end, say staff

13th March 1998 at 00:00
GTC wants more room for guidance.

"Time is our biggest gripe," Carol Johnston, one of the three principal teachers of guidance at the 900-pupil Trinity Academy, Edinburgh, said. The school was one of eight consulted by the GTC. "We all want to teach our subjects but lack of time for guidance is the problem."

Only a third of Mrs Johnston's time is spent on guidance but it could easily consume most of the day, attending to discipline problems, absences, careers or inter-agency meetings, bullying or any of the innumerable crises that arise.

When she is not teaching she is around the guidance base, a modern suite of offices and interview rooms. Each guidance teacher has a caseload of about 180 pupils compared with the national recommendation of 150. Susan Moncrieff, assistant guidance teacher, said: "The base keeps us sane. We used to be scattered around the school but now we are all together there is someone to talk to when it's a difficult day."

Pressures are building, especially with Higher Still looming and its consequences for course and career choice. The Government's demands, according to Ian Wishart, APT guidance, turn another screw. If homework is a priority, it falls to guidance to pick up problems when children don't do it.

Improved school performance at Standard grade and Higher puts the focus on individual subject choice, self-esteem and contented pupils. Target-setting will up the ante.

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