“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” - Malala Yousafzai
Are you thinking about becoming a school psychologist or counsellor once you’ve finished school?
With hundreds of students’ mental wellbeing at stake in each school, school counselling is hugely important.
Whether it’s at primary school, secondary school, or college, school counselling is an important service for students so let’s see how you can become a school counsellor.
Qualifications Required for School Counsellors
Before you attend a course to become a school counsellor, you might want to make sure you have the right qualities to offer counselling to school pupils.
- Observation skills
- Listening skills
- Keeping an emotional distance from those in your care
- Respecting the ethical code of the profession
- Contacting social services, medical professional, or the authorities in situations where someone in your care is in danger
- Patience and empathy
If you have what it takes, you can help students with their mental and emotional wellbeing throughout their schooling and education.
You can get a degree in various types of counselling from various universities around the UK and once you have this, you always have the option to move onto a Master’s degree in psychology. While a Master's degree isn't necessary, the more training or studying you do, the better equipped you’ll be to help the students.
A school counsellor can help students with a wide range of issues and further down the line, there are always options for specialising.
You may want to specialise in counselling for students of certain ages the approaches can be different or maybe you're interested in offering counselling to very young children in primary school. Others may have more of an interest in counselling for teenagers and secondary school pupils.
You’ll want to think about which type of counselling you’d want to offer and also the types of jobs available and there are plenty of shorter courses you can do to specialise so there’s no reason you can’t get a lower level qualification in a specific field of counselling to add to your CV.
As you gain qualifications and experience, you’ll have more options as to where and how you can work and like with other lines of work, it might be a matter of taking whatever jobs you can get when you’re first getting started. Experienced and qualified counsellors can usually command higher salaries and apply to a broader range of jobs.
What Do School Counsellors Do?
The remit of school counsellors can be quite broad and it can vary a lot according to where they work.
Different schools will have different issues and the same goes for each student, but the main goal of a counsellor is to always help students with their mental wellbeing so that they can get the most out of their schooling.
The counsellor can help both the students and the teaching staff by looking after students’ mental and emotional wellbeing and while they may have to see some students regularly, some students may visit their school counsellor only a handful of times or just once.
A student mightn’t always reach out to their school counsellor and may be referred to the school counsellor by their teacher, which may be due to a change in the student’s behaviour or results.
Counsellors may also work with students to help them better integrate into the school socially and there are several approaches that a school counsellor can use to help their students. They can offer counselling, workshops, or even talks or assemblies at the school.
Certain students, especially those new to the school, might find it hard to integrate into a new class and in this case, a school counsellor won’t want any of the students to be left out.
A counsellor also is responsible for a student’s safety so a student may come to the counsellor with sensitive information concerning their safety. This could be their physical safety or due to concerns such as bullying, harassment, etc. For problems at home or abuse, they’ll also be expected to contact the appropriate authorities. In some cases, a counsellor can help students as much in their school life as in their private or home life.
A counsellor may also be expected to refer students to other professionals if their behavioural or emotional issues may be due to them having special educational needs.
In addition to all that, counsellors may also be expected to:
- Develop counselling strategies to be implemented across the school
- Help students through difficult periods in their life and, in particular, adolescence
- Fight against discrimination based on race, gender, physique, or ability
- Maintain a dialogue with the parents of certain children
- Offer clinical counselling that effectively helps children in the school
Where Can School Counsellors Work
As the name suggests, school counsellors will work in schools more often than not. From primary school through to the sixth form, a counsellor may be required and, ideally, should be readily available to students.
The skills required will vary depending on which area of schooling you offer counselling in and the schools you work in. You may be more likely to deal with integration with primary school children and academic counselling with teens, for example.
You can also work outside of schools but still specialise in counselling and therapy for children. There are youth counselling services offered outside of schools.
In academic settings, however, most counsellors will help:
- Primary school students
- Secondary school students
- Sixth form students
- Young adults making academic choices
- Adults looking to return to education
In some cases, there can be a lot of overlap between guidance counselling and therapy. There are also aspects of life coaching involved, too.
They might even help students who are struggling to learn to read as this might be a challenging experience for them.
How Much Do School Counsellors Earn?
Like other careers, experience and seniority will affect how much you can earn.
At the start of a counsellor’s career, salaries start around £21k. This wage doesn’t change much during the early years, but does start to increase after a decade in the job. With around 20 years of experience, this can increase to £32k.
Of course, this will also vary according to the type of counselling you offer, where you work, and how often you work as there are a lot of options for counsellors. As we mentioned earlier, there are several specialisations for counsellors and some pay better than others.
Counsellors also have the option to work in the management side of things. In this case, they could be managing, training, or organising school counsellors and they may even be in charge of a team of counsellors at a school or counsellors across several schools. They may also want to offer counselling outside of a school to young people and, in this case, they may never even set foot in a school while others might spend their time across several schools.
Of course, you could also move into teaching and train the next generation of school counsellors. With the right qualifications and experience, you can do a lot in terms of school counselling. In any case, you’ll have a challenging and rewarding career.
If you're interested in learning more about counselling, psychology, or psychiatry, consider getting help from one of the many excellent private tutors on Superprof. There are tutors in a wide variety of subjects and skills offering face-to-face, online, or group tutorials to those looking to learn new things.
Each type of tutoring comes with pros and cons in terms of pedagogy and cost so make sure that you think carefully about which one would be right for you and your budget before you start your lessons.
Before you start contacting tutors, it's always wise to have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a tutor. Make a list of requirements before you start browsing for tutors on the Superprof website. Once you've found a few tutors that are what you're looking for, you can start getting in touch with them, discussing what kind of tutoring your after, and arranging sessions.
Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free so you can try potential tutors out before deciding upon which one is right for you and your budget.