Presentation to the Oireachtas
Committee on Education
January 29th 2009
1
Welcome
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Welcome and introductions
Purpose of this session
Jake Walsh
Deirdre Mullen
Gavin Cawley
Mary Golden
What is a Comhairle na nÓg?
• Local Youth Councils
• Funded
• Role
• Ideal
• Current position
3
What is Dáil na nÓg?
• national youth parliament
• 12 – 18 years
• Funding
• National Youth Council of Ireland, Foróige
and Youth Work Ireland work with the
OMCYA in organising Dáil na nÓg
• 200 delegates
4
What is the Dáil na nÓg Council?
• 34 Comhairlí na nÓgs
• Each elects one delegate to Dáil na nÓg Council
• Role of the council
• The issues discussed at Dáil na nÓg 2008 were:
– Teen Mental Health
– Education Reform
• The Council meets once a month
• Two groups
– Mental health
– Education
5
Dáil na nÓg 2008
Education recommendations
1.
Language subjects should be more relevant to everyday
life. Pre Exam years should take part in mandatory
gaeleacht and Foreign trips
2.
More focus on the oral aspect and culture in the teaching
of all languages
3.
All teachers must receive training in guidance
counselling and communications
4.
Externally examined continuous assessment should
make up 60% of final Leaving Cert result
5.
Life skill subjects should be available and recognised in
the Leaving Cert.
6
Dáil na nÓg 2008
Education recommendations (6-10)
6.
Need for continuous assessment to motivate students
7.
Individual career guidance should be improved in
all schools
8.
Points should be awarded for foundation level subjects
9.
Government needs to set a standard for sporting facilities
in schools with joint funding
10. Accessible, professionally staffed and affordable physical
activity centres to be provided for community
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Top 3 Dáil na nÓg recommendations
Education
1. Language subjects should be more
relevant to everyday life. Pre Exam
years should take part in mandatory
Gaeltacht and foreign trips
2. More focus on the oral aspect and
culture in the teaching of all languages
3. All teachers must receive training in
guidance counselling and
communications
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Statements on guidance
counselling

All teachers must receive training in guidance
counselling and communications

Individual career guidance should be improved
in all schools

Obligatory visits to school guidance counsellors
by students to remove the stigma and
encourage mental health services (From Mental
Health Group)
9
Education cutbacks
• During previous recession, governments
invested in education
• Meant that young people were better
prepared to participate in growing
economy
• Make Ireland competitive
10
Our Research
• Met with Institute of Guidance Counsellors
• Met with guidance counsellors in our
schools
• Research reports
• Spoke to our peers
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Students’ Perceptions
• 92% of students in one class were unaware that
guidance counsellors offered services outside
educational and career guidance
• 7% of students were not aware of the basic role
of the guidance counsellor
• 38% said that they were unaware of anywhere
they could go within the education system with a
personal problem
• 11% of 6th year students have never met with
their guidance counsellor
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Students’ perceptions
• Survey is only from one school but the
opinion is common to all schools
• We ourselves had much misinformation
before being part of this group and doing
research
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What we found out
• Full role of guidance counsellor
3 main areas
– Personal and Social
– Education
– Career
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What we found out
• Each school should have a school
guidance plan
• Students should have a say into the
development of this plan
• When there are inspections, schools get at
least 2 weeks notice.
• How career guidance is funded –
allocation of hours depending on size of
school.
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Number of
students
1000+
900-999
800-899
700-799
600-699
500-599
400-499
300-399
200-299
<200
Hours
allocated per
week
47
38
36
30
28
24
17
13
11
8
Time/student/
week
2min 33secs
2min 16secs
2min 24secs
2min 15secs
2min 48secs
2mins53secs
2mins 33secs
1min 57secs
2min 12secs
1min 36secs
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Our concerns/issues
• Appropriate supports and policies are not
always in place
• Not enough information for students on
purpose and value of guidance counselling
• Lack of confidence in guidance
counsellors
• Not enough time and resources to build
relationships with the students
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Concerns/issues
• Guidance counsellors not sufficiently
trained
• Guidance counsellors are not always
available
• It is seen as a service not a ‘right’
• Varying standards across schools.
• Guidance counsellors should be well
connected with services in the area
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Recommendations
1. All teachers must receive training in guidance
counselling and communications
2. Individual career guidance should be improved
in all schools
3. Obligatory visits to school guidance
counsellors by students to remove the stigma
and encourage positive mental health
4. More flexible service – to cater for individual
need
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Recommendations
5. Don’t make cutbacks – need it more now
6. Develop and enforce standards
7. Involve young people in the development
of the standards
8. Develop mechanisms for involving young
people to advise on an on going basis
9. Meaningful involvement of young people
in developing school guidance plan
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Recommendations
10. Re examine current system of funding.
Guidance counsellor should be
dedicated to that only – not a teacher
also
11. All students should have a minimum of
guidance counselling hours allocated to
them – importance of prevention and
early detection of issues of concern.
21
Our workplan
• Our main aims/actions are:
– Develop a leaflet/poster for students to
inform them of the range of services
– Put information on DNN website for
young people in relation to guidance
counselling
– Lobbying of relevant individuals and
policy makers in relation to the issue
22
Minister Andrews met us
• Barry Andrews TD, Minister for
Children and Youth Affairs met us
• He listened to our priorities
• He told us about his work
• He promised to support us in our
work and to meet us again later in
the year
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In closing…
• Students clearly need more
information and access to guidance
counselling
• Role of guidance in promoting
positive mental health
• Need for increased role for young
people in this area
• Thanks for your time.
• This is important to us – we hope it’s
important to you too!
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