Risks and BenefitsIt is in nobody's interests that
inadequately trained students are "let loose" on the lower years to take on
complex problems as if they were trained and experienced counsellors. So let's
look at the risks and fears that might be around squarely, whilst acknowledging
that nothing worth doing is entirely risk-free and that new ventures, in their
nature, have "bugs" and pitfalls as part and parcel of the development process.
- The helpers will get out of their depth, giving wrong or potentially
- Helpers will get overinvolved at a personal level. Their status as helpers
could even be a disguised attempt to resolve some of their own problems.
- Gossip about sensitive personal issues will get around the school.
- Students will talk about problems at home and irate parents will complain
to the Head.
- Students will misunderstand the nature of confidentiality, or will feel
under pressure to keep serious, even life-threatening, issues to themselves.
- Experienced teachers, especially those with some pastoral
responsibilities, will feel their role has been marginalised.
- Some students will make up problems as a means of getting out of class, or
of getting attention.
- Taking part in training as well as offering time for planning and to run
(e.g.) "drop-in" sessions will mean that the volunteer's work and exam results
will suffer, creating tensions for subject teachers.
I feel that stating potential risks gets us thinking immediately about what
we need to do or to have in place to minimize or counteract them. Have you any
comments on this list? Would you add anything to it from your own experience. Please e-mail me if so.