It should be made particularly apparent that there is no separate distinction between the roles and responsibilities of a school counsellor. Seemingly, no understandable approach was identified to distinguish or separate what are roles, versus, what are responsibilities. What can be said however is that responsibilities are dependent on the type of role that a school counsellor has.
The list of roles and responsibilities are in no way exhaustive. Therefore, we shall seek to identify and rationalise several keys encompassing roles and responsibilities of school counsellors relating specifically to the Jamaican school setting.
To adequately and comprehensively accomplish our objective, we first identify and define the key terms. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary (2006) defines rationalise as a justification for an action or attitude with logical reasoning.
It further defines a role as a person’s or thing’s function in a particular situation. Responsibility is deemed as “a thing which one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation. ” School Counsellors are “professional members of an educational team who assists students in their personal, social and academic, and career development aspects of education through services such as individual counselling, small group counselling, and classroom teaching, and provide leadership in educational reform (advocacy);”
Roles of School Counsellor
The role of the School Guidance Counsellor is to act as an advocate for all students and to develop, co-ordinate and implement a school guidance program that assists all students (directly and indirectly) with personal and social growth, as well as educational and career development. Another major role of the school counsellor would be to learn the counselling needs of students with disabilities and their parents (Hosie, 1982).
Although school counselling is a relatively new phenomenon to the Jamaican Landscape, we often do not understand or appreciate what duties school counsellors perform. The post of the School Counsellor was permanently established as part of the staffing structure of Secondary and High schools back in 1974. The creation of the post arose out of the necessity to provide guidance to graduates of the newly created junior secondary schools.
We cannot detail all the roles of school counsellors; however, we will attempt to rationalize the school counsellor’s roles.
Within our Jamaican schools, the school counsellor’s primary role is to assist each child and his or her parents in mapping out the most appropriate educational program in order to ensure effective career plans and to facilitate life-long learning, good decision-making skills, and goal setting.
Counsellors help select courses and programs that will best fit the student’s abilities and interests and at the same time provide him or her with learning challenges. The school counsellors and other school personnel work collaboratively within the school environment in a positive way that helps students to succeed academically.
School counsellors provide support for teachers by coordinating and implementing such activities.
Read more in The Jamaican Guidance Counsellor’s Handbook
The Jamaican Guidance Counsellor’s Handbook, introduces the Jamaican educational system and highlights the psychometric movement, the trait and factor theory as well as legislation that impacted the development of present guidelines and ethical standards. It also explores the counselling process, issues of school management, school organisational structure and several counselling techniques which are apt for the school setting. The book also examines the various roles and responsibilities of a Jamaican Guidance Counsellor and provides a list of resource centers in Jamaica.