INDEPENDENT NEWS

Guidance counsellors could have averted Northland lockdown

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2013 03:12 PM
Guidance counsellors could have averted Northland lockdown
If trained school counsellors were available in all primary schools the recent case of a seven year old running amok in a Northland school could have been avoided, says the NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC).
Spokesperson, Sarah Maindonald, says school guidance counsellors should be used as the fence at the top of the cliff in schools.
But poor counsellor to student ratios in secondary schools - and none at all in primary schools - mean they are all too often the ambulance at the bottom, as in this case.
"If there'd been a school guidance counsellor in that school the scenario could have been totally different.
"If the teacher noticed the student getting agitated the child could have been sent, with a trusted peer, to the counsellor, who could have been able to de-escalate the child, look at possible triggers for the problem, and help that child to build coping skills for a future similar situation.
"The counsellor could have involved the caregivers, reinforcing the home-school partnership, and helped to organise an alternative programme for the child for the rest of the day so the other children weren't disrupted.
"As a result, that school may have avoided a lockdown situation and the disruption of other children's education," says Ms Maindonald.
Having appropriate access to guidance counselling in schools would at least have given this child and this school the chance to do things differently.
She says counsellor to student ratios in most schools are inadequate, meaning students don't always get the emotional support they need to deal with an increasing range of significant emotional trauma.
ENDS

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