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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 04:34 GMT
All schools 'need a counsellor'
The NSPCC says pupils should discuss their problems
Every school should have a pupils' counsellor to deal with problems such as bullying, sexual abuse and domestic violence, a children's charity says.

The NSPCC is asking 90,000 of its supporters to write to Education Secretary Charles Clarke to demand a change in government policy.

"All young people should have someone to turn to at school," the charity's education adviser, John Stead, said.

The NSPCC will run a media campaign to highlight problems faced by pupils.

Defined role

Mr Stead added: "The education system plays a vital role in child welfare

"We cannot separate a child's intellectual development from his or her emotional growth. Young people should be able to refer themselves to a professionally trained, qualified and independent counsellor who has a defined role within the school."

The NSPCC wants the government to fund independently run counselling schemes across the UK.

These should work with other professionals, including doctors and teachers, it said.

Earlier this year, an NSPCC survey in Northern Ireland found 97% of classroom staff and 94% of pupils were in favour of school counsellors.

NSPCC schools counsellor Sue Walls said: "Talking about a problem can help it stop. The pupils know I am here when they need me and that they can speak to me about anything.

"I usually see them on a one-to one-basis, but also in small groups or during class sessions, for example when dealing with anger management, bereavement and bullying. I work with teachers, parents and social workers to provide the best support structure possible."

The NSPCC is also sending one million pamphlets to schools telling pupils how to report bullying.

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