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Guidance officers working in State High Schools are qualified teachers who have undertaken further tertiary studies and training in guidance, counselling and psychology.
Most high schools have at least one fulltime guidance officer who manages a guidance program, which is strongly linked to other student support services within the school.
The guidance officer provides direct service to students (groups and individuals) who refer themselves or are referred by caregivers such as parents and teachers. The guidance office provides a facility for private counselling and advice, as well as provision of information and other resources connected with careers, personal development and health/welfare.
Although guidance officers are a members their school staff, they are often able to extend beyond the teacher role to handle sensitive situations in a confidential environment, and to link with and refer on to community agencies. Networking beyond the school site is particularly helpful in cases of child protection, critical incidents, substance abuse and mental health problems.
Areas of Operation
Management - The guidance officer functions as a key member of the school management team, and plans, budgets and is accountable for a formal operational program within the school.
Careers - The guidance officer provides counselling, advice and information to various members of the school community relating to pathways, networks and institutions involved in career development and further education and training. Careers markets, workshops and representative guest speakers are usually facilitated by the guidance officer, and sometimes this extends to community events and open access counselling.
Curriculum - The guidance officer facilitates curriculum development (such as career education and life skills) and staff training and development, as well as assisting various members of the school community with student course choices and changes. Enrolment and departure of students are often assisted by the guidance officer, especially in critical or complex cases.
Behaviour - The guidance officer assists the provision of school behaviour management plans, policies, procedures and strategies, as well as providing counselling and guidance support for clients involved in situations of harm or hurt, such as abuse, intimidation, bullying and harassment.
Personal - The guidance officer supports the social and emotional development of groups and individuals in the school community, extending into health and welfare issues. Counselling and other helping strategies are used both preventively and responsively. Other professional helpers are consulted or referred to, and teaming and networking are highly valued.
Special Education - The guidance officer provides team consultancy support for special education program assessments and placements, as well as a coordinating role in terms of reporting, filing and referral procedures. Some guidance officers conduct psycho educational assessments, but this is more common in primary education, where special educational needs are normally first detected.
Guidance officers provide their services to their school communities, usually by appointments made directly, or through the school administration office. Students are also able to drop in to the guidance office at certain open access times, usually at school breaks, for short term or ad hoc counselling or advice.
Guidance officers are supervised by the school Principal, but participate in clinical and technical supervision offered at District level by a Senior Guidance Officer, who may be based at a school or District Office.
Senior Guidance Officer
Apart from group and individual professional supervision of guidance officers, the Senior Guidance Officer also provides limited direct guidance services and facilitates training opportunities for guidance and related staff. Interagency networking, both governmental and non-governmental, is a key role. Contact can be made through the nearest District Office of Education Queensland.
Useful phone numbers
- Lifeline: 131 114
- Beyond blue: 1300 224 636
- Kids helpline: 1800 551 800
- Headspace: 1800 650 890