MAKING the student counsellor redundant at The Chase will be severely damaging to pupils, a parent has warned.
The role was one of 14 redundancies to be announced by governors last week in a bid to prevent a £1.8million deficit in three years time.
In the wake of the announcement headteacher Richard Jacobs confirmed pupils with ‘profound need’ would now be referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – also referred to as CAMHS.
One mum whose children have benefited from the support of the school counsellor contacted the Observer to express her concern.
Her son has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Aspergers syndrome, a form of autism which makes it difficult for people to communicate and interact, while her daughter has a genetic heart condition.
She said: “Both our children have used the counsellor very successfully and one is definitely needed in school, she is constantly backed up with calls.
“It’s detrimental to the school to take away such vital pastoral support. Now there will be no facility for kids to go to when they have problems whether they are problems at home or in school.
“The waiting list for CAMHS is nearly a year, and they would not have dealt with the same problems the counsellor would have.
“My son was assured he would get counselling for the rest of his time at the school but that is not going to happen now.
“This will put more pressure on teachers who will end up becoming unqualified counsellors. They may say something they do not mean and there won’t be any consistency. They may do more harm than good.”
Mr Jacobs said the role of the counsellor had been considered to be redundant and it was ‘exceptionally rare for a school to have one’, adding she had done an ‘excellent service’ but ‘other schools have been able to provide pastoral care without that role’.
He added the number of students which had ‘profound need’ were few in number and would be provided support from CAMHS.
Concerns have also been raised about the state of the school’s special educational needs provision after six teaching assistants in the area were also declared redundant.
Mr Jacobs assured the school’s commitment to SEN was exactly the same and there was a declining trend of pupils coming to the school with SEN.
The headteacher also confirmed the school’s sick bay would remain despite a decision not to replace the school nurse who had resigned.
He said there were a number of first aiders on site and pupils’ needs were already ‘well catered for and would continue to be so’.