Regardless of whether it’s a public or private international school that a student chooses to attend, ensuring they have access to a valued and supportive school guidance counsellor on the premises is a must.
Reviewing the history of school counselling, the profession is said to have first evolved in the late 1800s, primarily as a response to the Industrial Revolution and the vocational guidance movement.
Yet, in the early 1920s, the role of the school counsellor started to expand beyond the traditional vocational focus in the US.
“Educational professionals started to recognise that the social and emotional needs of students also needed attention. However, during the 1930s and the Great Depression, funding for counsellors was cut. Only in 1936, with the passage of the George-Deen Act that provided funding for counselling services, did school counselling see additional support for services,” according to Study.com.
But since then, their mission to identify students who were failing, to implement strategies that help prevent students from failing, to ensure students obtain their desired skills, to urge students to stay in school and prepare them for the workplace has remained prevalent in global school systems.
One benefit the school guidance counsellor brings is a core set of vocational values.
In secondary school, this advantage may be applied to learners who can’t decide if they want to further their education at sixth form, university, college, or a company.
And while teachers can offer advice about where their students’ scores will take them, they can’t always cater to individual needs while balancing lessons, exams and marking.
Therefore, a school guidance counsellor has the chance to step in and provide one-to-one sessions with students who require clearer direction or feel anxious and confused about their future.
Outlining the varied paths a student can take puts their mind at ease and helps them map out the best route beyond school.
Counselling and care
The school guidance counsellor is there to help students through delicate situations, like conflicts with peers, mental health concerns or absence from lessons.
In today’s education sector, school guidance counsellors are also trained in how to help learners with special educational needs (SEN). From classroom assistance to SEN learning sessions, school guidance counsellors are on-hand to help with any problems that arise.
They may also provide referrals, recommendations and education to parents about mental health concerns.
Another advantage to a school with a guidance counsellor, or a team of guidance counsellors, is that they are on hand to identify any significant issues that a student is facing before they get worse.
Watching out for sensitive cases such as neglect, drug abuse and bullying, school guidance counsellors can help steer students in a safe direction and inform both teachers and parents about incidents that disturb their academic progression and personal lives.
Once alerted, counsellors can work alongside parents and teachers to develop strategies that help students succeed, realigning their study focus.
Today and every day students can talk to their school psychologist (a group shown here), guidance counsellor, principal or teacher. #BellLetsTalk #KeeptalkingMH #MentalHealthMatters pic.twitter.com/JpCMqBaFJu
— NLESD (@NLESDCA) January 30, 2019
Continuing the reign of School Guidance Counsellors
An integral part of any school system, it’s obvious to see why educators, parents and students would like to see an abundance of school guidance counsellors in academic institutions worldwide.
But with recent reports stating that they’re stretched too thin in countries like Canada, there’s a fear that their reign will be cut short.
“Increasingly, school counsellors across Canada are asked to provide frontline support during times of crisis – a responsibility that can pull them away from career planning and other areas of student development,” Global News states.
Due to tight budgets and allowances, some schools may only hire a few counsellors, despite having a vast student body to care for.
And if there are continuous cases of frontline support, do counsellors have to pick and choose the students they can help?
Whatever the case may be, the benefits a school guidance counsellor can bring must be considered when selecting an appropriate international school to attend.