Counselling Support in Schools and IHLs

Published Date: 14 September 2021 06:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms He Ting Ru, Sengkang GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) in each of the last five years, how many full-time school counsellors applied to join the Ministry as applicants (i) with and (ii) without formal counselling training; and (b) what is the percentage of Ministry staff performing counselling duties (excepting para-counsellors) who hold (i) NIE's Diploma in School Counselling (ii) NIE's Master of Arts (Counselling and Guidance) (iii) other diploma counselling qualifications (iv) other Masters counselling qualifications and (v) other relevant counselling qualifications.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr. Shahira Abdullah, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education with regard to schools and institutes of higher learning respectively (a) what is the current average staff to student ratio for (i) full-time school counsellors (ii) part-time school counsellors (iii) para-counsellors (iv) flexi-adjunct school counsellors and (v) teacher counsellors; (b) whether the Ministry is working towards an improved ratio and, if so, what are the plans to achieve that; and (c) whether there are reviews on how manageable the re-balanced teaching and counselling workloads are for teacher counsellors.

Response

1. All schools are resourced with at least one to two full-time school counsellors, while each polytechnic and ITE college is resourced with five to seven counsellors. The Autonomous Universities are similarly equipped with a varying number of counsellors depending on their size and student profile. In total, about 550 counsellors are deployed in our schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). They are augmented by Flexi-Adjunct School Counsellors and teacher counsellors in schools, as well as para-counsellors in some IHLs.

2. Flexi-Adjunct School Counsellors were introduced to better supplement schools' short-term and ad-hoc manpower needs, replacing the Part-Time School Counsellor Scheme in end-2020. About 100 Flexi-Adjunct School Counsellors are engaged in schools each month. Over 700 teacher counsellors are deployed in schools and we aim to increase this number to over 1,000 in the next few years.

3. Similarly, some IHLs have para-counsellors to complement professional counsellors and strengthen the ecosystem of support for students. There are about 100 para-counsellors in total, who include both academic and non-academic staff with the requisite skills to provide counselling and socio-emotional support work.

4. Between 2016 and 2020, about 190 applicants with counselling qualifications and 1,500 applicants without counselling qualifications applied to join the Ministry as School Counsellors each year. Applicants go through a careful selection process to ensure they have the right disposition and attributes to be School Counsellors. Successful applicants without counselling qualifications will be put through formal training and certification before being deployed as School Counsellors.

5. All School Counsellors are professionally qualified. Around 43% have a Masters in counselling, and the rest are graduates with a diploma/ postgraduate diploma in counselling or other counselling qualifications with relevant experience. School Counsellors have opportunities to pursue further professional qualifications such as a Masters or certifications by professional bodies. They also receive ongoing training, professional development and supervision.

6. MOE is reviewing the resourcing of school counsellors to better support schools. We are also reviewing the resourcing required for the IHLs to meet the need for counselling support for their students.

7. We recognise that counselling work is demanding and teacher counsellors have to balance their teaching and counselling workload. Schools have the flexibility to reduce teaching or CCA duties for teacher counsellors to provide them more time to spend with students. Training for teacher counsellors has also been enhanced to equip them not only to support their students' well-being but also better manage their own well-being. MOE will continue to monitor the workload of teacher counsellors and further strengthen the support for teacher counsellors to ensure that they are well supported and have a manageable workload.

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