'That support is needed': Some N.S. schools see reduction in guidance counsellor positions
Published Monday, May 14, 2018 7:11PM ADT
As schools across Nova Scotia learn of their staffing allocations for next year, some guidance counsellors are learning their services won’t be needed full-time in September.
Earlier this month, the provincial government announced that it would be hiring more than 190 specialized education professionals as part of its efforts to help with classroom inclusion.
But the Nova Scotia Teachers Union says the announcement is being soured by news that some student will have less time with guidance counsellors next year.
“There has been a promise made for additional resources to support students in schools and right now we’re seeing a reduction in services,” says Liette Doucet, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
The NSTU says it knows of a number of schools in the Halifax and Cape Breton areas where guidance counsellor positions are being reduced.
Caledonia Junior High School in Dartmouth is one of those schools. The guidance counsellor position was full-time this year, but come September, it will only be 60 per cent.
“I’m very concerned for the schools. I’m concerned for the teachers in those schools. That support is needed,” says Doucet.
One guidance counsellor whose position is being reduced in September tells CTV News the change was unexpected. She says she believes all junior high schools should have a full-time guidance counsellor because they are the only mental health professionals in school every day.
The Nova Scotia Department of Education says it’s not making any cuts, and the 190 inclusive education support positions are in addition to current staffing levels.
As for why some guidance counsellor positions are being reduced, the department says the former schools boards are responsible for making staffing decisions.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education says it is adjusting guidance counsellor positions based on the provincial ratio – one guidance counsellor per 500 students.
But the guidance counsellor who spoke to CTV News says the students should have access to a guidance counsellor every day, not half the time.
The opposition agrees that’s not good enough, and is calling on the education minister to clarify what’s happening.
“At the end of the day, our priority has to always be our students, specifically our students who are most vulnerable, specifically our students who are diverse learners,” says Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Halman.
No one from the Department of Education was made available for an interview.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Ritchie