Despite a recent review into the ACT special schooling system, the territory’s schools do not have enough counsellors help rising numbers of students in crisis or acute need, says the Australian Education Union (AEU).
The review, which was released on Wednesday, outlined 50 recommendations to address serious issues within the territory’s special schooling system and prompted the ACT Government to provide $7m in funding and increase the ratio of counsellors to students.
The improved ratio will be 1:733 – still well above the recommended level of 1:500.
In the ACT, that figure is one counsellor per 750 students, leaving some schools unable to cope with the rising number of students with complex needs and challenging behaviour.
The review said the need to increase the number of counsellors working in special schools was urgent.
"Throughout the expert panel's consultation, the lack of capacity of school psychologists to meet student need was a consistent theme raised by many stakeholders in the public sector," the report stated.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) and the opposition said the current situation facing the territory’s special schooling system was unacceptable.
"This is unacceptable, and it is not only the AEU saying it – it’s the NSW Coroner and psychologist associations saying it,” AEU ACT branch secretary, Glenn Fowler, told The Canberra Times.
“The government needs to stop hiding behind its model of multi-disciplinary teams of allied professionals and others that visit school – it is not the same thing.”