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Guidance counsellors in non-traditional and newly formed high schools recently benefited from a workshop where they were exposed to best practices in the profession in order to strengthen their work.
The workshop, held last Wednesday (Feb. 3) at the Manchester High School, was organised by the Mutual Building Societies Foundation under its Centres of Excellence education programme.
Assistant Programme Manager at the Foundation, Dawn Sewell-Lawson, said that the body is seeking to strengthen the role of counsellors in schools, noting that these professionals play an integral role in the development of students.
“We know for a fact that in order for us to have improved academic outcomes for our students it must be linked to the social issues, which are the responsibilities of the guidance and counselling unit. We are supporting you by exposing you to best practices, helping you with capacity building, with the setting and achieving of targets,” she told the counsellors.
The session exposed the guidance counsellors to management techniques under the Centres of Excellence programme including the Student Development Board, which tracks students’ progress and the School Improvement Plan. They were also encouraged to develop initiatives that will work in their schools.
“You know what is best for the environment that you are in, so you are the best person to guide what needs to be done in the schools. It doesn’t take a lot of research to figure out what is going on in our schools and with our children. What it takes is what you have; the capacity to care. You are best placed to help your academic staff to deal with class room management,” Ms. Sewell-Lawson noted.
Director of the Guidance and Counselling Unit in the Ministry of Education, Antoinette Brooks, urged the counsellors to ensure that the classroom depicts a climate of care between teachers and students, and the wider school community.
“As counsellors, we have to help to model the behaviours that we want our parents and teachers to model for the students. The social climate is what is going to determine whether or not teaching/learning is at a level that is acceptable for the education process and that is what the guidance counsellors must seek to enhance,” she stated.
The Centres of Excellence, which have been established at a number of non-traditional high schools, seek to strengthen and institutionalise a culture of high achievement among school administration, teachers, students and parents.
The aim is to contribute to sustainable national development by improving the quality, delivery and impact of secondary education in these schools.

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