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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
'Agony aunt' sorts school cares
School counselling
Childline says at some schools teachers fill the role of counsellors
A school has appointed a full-time 'agony aunt' to help pupils deal with problems such as bullying, relationships and stress.

Glan-y-Mor Comprehensive in Burry Port is among the first in Wales to offer such a service and the move has won the backing of a leading children's charity.

Childline says there is increasing demand for pupil counselling across the UK but says it is a low priority for some head teachers when it comes to allocating resources while others are suspicious of outside involvement in school life.

This week saw the official opening of The Haven at Glan-y-Mor, a counselling centre run by Margaret Yeoman.

Divorce, parents separating and pupils feeling rejected is a real big issue at the moment
Margaret Yeoman

She started off visiting the comprehensive one day a week on a voluntary basis but now her involvement has become full-time.

"One the very first day I realised one day a week would not be enough. I had eight clients to see on that first day," she said.

Advice on smoking

"Within two or three weeks I was up to two days a week and shortly after that I was doing three days."

She said pupils came to her with all sorts of issues ranging from problems in their parents' relationships to advice on smoking.

"Divorce, parents separating and pupils feeling rejected is a real big issue at the moment," she said.

"I listen and we talk about it and I try to help them see the whole picture and help them make the right choice if they can - but any decision must be theirs.

The Haven at Glan-y-Mor School opened this week

"I don't think they have a problem talking to their teachers because Glan-y-Mor is a very caring school.

"But I think the fact that I'm not a teacher does help."

Mrs Yeoman's role is not just limited to pupils as she also sees staff and parents as well.

So many teachers and local education authorities have asked for information about setting up counselling services in schools last year the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy published a book explaining how to best meet the needs of pupils.


Cordula Bellan of Childline said: "Most schools really try hard to meet the emotional needs of pupils today.

"It's a good thing to have an independent person in a school to offer counselling.

"We are aware through our helpline of quite a big demand and the biggest issue would be bullying."

She said at many schools teachers filled the role but said this was not ideal.

"If it is a teacher then there can be a conflict because one day they may be in a discipline role and the next in a support role.

"I think many schools will be interested in following this (Glan-y-Mor).

"But funding can be a problem and it all depends on the ethos of the school and whether they are willing to welcome outside agencies."

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