NCGE Resources

Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:45

Delivering the Guidance Service

To date the Adult Educational Guidance Services based within the former VECs operated based on the guidelines laid out in the DES Operational Guidelines 2012.

These guidelines stated that the overall aim of the AEGI is:

To offer a guidance service to adults which includes impartial adult education information, one-to-one guidance and group guidance, which will help people to make informed educational, career and life choices.

The AEGI is based on an integrated model of adult educational guidance counselling which is: 

  • inclusive of the pre-entry, entry, ongoing and pre-exit stages
  • is inclusive of personal, educational and vocational guidance;
  • working in partnership at local level, meeting a spectrum of guidance needs of the target groups, employing a range of methodologies including information provision, one-to-one guidance, group guidance and outreach provision;
  • based within the VECs/other managing providers;

Guidance is a key aspect of further education programmes and should be available at all stages including pre-entry and pre-exit on an integrated basis. Under the AEGI, individual AEG Services (AEGS) provide personal, educational and vocational guidance which supports learners to make informed decisions (for example, about course choice and certification if required, progression plans, recognition of prior learning, etc). AEGS provide ongoing guidance which also supports the learner’s motivation to continue with a programme, especially where previous educational experiences may have been negative.

All AEGS should be offered free-of-charge to any person who is in one of the target groups identified.

Guidance provision in an FET Guidance Service is  based on the needs of the clients / adult learners. This provision can take place in the offices / information  centre  of the Guidance service itself or   via outreach to  adult education  / community education / training centres .

We all recognise how important first impressions are and how much we are influenced by the environments we find ourselves in. A guidance environment, which is pleasant and welcoming, will create a positive climate in which to build our relationships with clients. Bright and well organised public spaces, comfortable meeting rooms and well-presented facilities will enhance the image of the Service and demonstrate respect for our clients. Being conscious of safety in our working practices will help ensure protection for our clients and ourselves

Service delivery can include Provision of information  to clients / groups or wider information seminars / exhibitions.


Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:33

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

NCGE designs and organises continuing professional development (CPD)  programmes for guidance staff working in the FET sector.These include guidance co-ordinators, guidance counsellors and guidance information officers and other guidance staff based in FET

NCGE CPD programmes for  FET guidance staff  aims to:-

  • Offer a balance between theory and practice;
  • Provide opportunities to gain, develop and renew skills;
  • Develop effective learning and delivery methods within a lifelong and life-wide context;
  • Provide opportunities to model best practice in delivery and presentation skills;
  • Provide opportunities to actively participate in an encouraging environment;
  • Provide opportunities for practitioners to network and share expertise;
  • Provide a space for reflection on practice;
  • Provide a forum for NCGE and the FET Guidance   Services to develop models of good practice which inform policy.

Provision of CPD

NCGE provides CPD using a blended learning approach with online communication, pre-workshop activities and attendance at workshops .

NCGE provides webinars with national and international experts in guidance providing, which can be attended by FET Guidance practitioners 

Guidance Counselling Supervision

Supervision can be viewed as an integral part of continuing professional development. It provides a mechanism of support for guidance counsellors and can play a key role in 'self-care'. Supervision may take place on a 'one to one' level or in a group context.

There are several  reasons why it is important for guidance counsellors to have regular supervision:-

Ethical requirement – Professional bodies , such as the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and AEGAI strongly recommend supervision as an integral part of the professional practice of members;

The Department of Education and Skills  recognises the role of supervision in ensuring good practive and thus requires guidance counsellors  working  in the AEGI service to attend either individual or group supervision for at least two hours per month;  PLC guidance  counsellors can access supervision through the DES funded guidance counselling supervision programme for  post primary schools.

Supervision helps ensure accountability in relation to guidance counsellor's one to one work with clients;

Self care - It provides support to practitioners in relation to the management of client issues.

Quality assurance - Supervision is a way of monitoring and evaluating our practice so as to maintain the quality and standards of the service we provide;

Supervision can be provided on a one to one or group basis. Supervision must be provided by a supervisor accredited by a suitable organisation.

For example IACP: gives a list of IACP accredited supervisors by geographical location


Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:31

Record keeping and data gathering

The Adult Guidance Management  System is managed by NCGE on behalf of DES and SOLAS.

The SOLAS / NCGE AGMS  database acts as a key tool in providing a quality service to adult guidance clients. 

This AGMS has developed since 2004 with review and consultation with the Adult Educational Guidance Initiative staff and management.

The AGMS provides a confidential  online database to assist client information management  and to support review of and  ensure planning for the guidance service delivery

Due to the confidential nature of the guidance service to clients,  it is only the  guidance staff of the former Adult Education Guidance Services  that  have access to the AGMS for their ETB. Management  have access to the overall statistics and reports available from the data.

Professional practice is supported by the records kept .  

Records should reflect interactions with clients and groups and every session, phone call, meeting and drop-in is important. Both the client’s plan and progression are informed by the records.  Good record keeping facilitates appropriate follow up and referral.

Accurate data supports planning of the guidance service from a local and management level and informs national planning for  FET guidance services

At national level, SOLAS has access to the overall statistics to view the activities involved in the  provision of guidance , number of 1-1 sessions, group sessions, information queries etc.  SOLAS access the data 3 times per year in line with ETB reporting requirements.  This data is collected at End May, End September and End of year .

Guidance Services provide qualitative reports through the AGMS which provide the opportunity for service self -reflection and self-evaluation. The AGMS provides a facility for services to highlight Case Studies and examples of good practice.

These reports are collated by NCGE to provide an Executive overarching report for  DES / SOLAS . 

NCGE makes these reports available via



Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:27

Guidance Service Staff

Staff of the AEGI guidance services in FET are currently employed under the terms and conditions laid out in:

Circular 70/04 and Circular 0015/2007


Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:13

Strategic Guidance Service planning

Strategic planning asks us to consider:

  • where we are now;
  • where we want to go over the next number of years and
  • how we are going to get there.

Strategic planning is really about how an organisation defines its direction and makes decisions about the resources it is going to allocate to achieving its aims.

Strategic planning is a key element of an organisation's effectiveness.  It sets out to ensure that a Service is meeting the needs of its Service users. The guidance plan for an FET Guidance Service must work within the remit of its managing agency e.g. ETB.  It is an intrinsic part of the managing agency’s strategic plan.

As in all other strategic plans, the outlook is for the coming three to five year period. From this larger plan, the Service may wish to develop a one year operational plan. This operational plan can have much more specific goals. Plans should always have some in-built flexibility, in order to take into account any changes that may arise.

The following represent an example of stakeholders, who are likely to be involved in the development of an FET Guidance Service plan:-

  • Adult Educational Guidance Service management and staff;
  • Guidance counsellors and adult guidance information officers;
  • Guidance staff based in the wider ETB
  • Clients;
  • Local partners and other key stakeholders;
  • Appropriate statutory or funding agencies;
  • Course / programme  providers.

Information from stakeholders can be obtained through consultation or surveys or through analysis of qualitative and quantitative data.

Using qualitative and quantitative data as a strategic management tool can provide invaluable information to guide planning as follows:

Quantitative data available from the Adult Guidance Management  System  – AGMS  - which includes

client numbers, referrals, staff time, general public queries

Qualitative data available via the AGMS reports  including : issues and challenges, gaps in provision, best practice, access and social inclusion, networks and outreach, case studies

Client feedback ; conducting client feedback surveys can provide valuable information on client expectations & satisfaction, accessibility of the Service, quality of the resources and  information available, improvements needed etc

CPD needs of staff –  conduct a staff training needs analysis and evaluation of CPD attended.

Communications – consider the communications and processes within the Service, between management/staff/clients


Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:06

Principles of service delivery

A quality guidance service is led by staff with a DES recognised qualification in guidance counselling.

  • The role of the Guidance co-ordinator is to manage and supervise the work of the other guidance  staff.
  • The guidance service operates in the context of the wider FET programme delivery reporting within the structures of the ETB, i.e. within the management of the AEO and FET Director.
  • It is the role of the Co-ordinator to liaise with course co-ordinators and education centre managers to determine the guidance provision required, whether group or 1-1 , or outreach provision.
  • Guidance service delivery in FET is underpinned and informed by the Codes of Principles outlined in the National Guidance Forum Quality Guidelines.
  • Such principles and ethos ensure that the individual needs of clients are met and respected.

The following represent key principles:

Accessible: Accessible to the specified target groups and without barriers in relation to learning opportunities, location, information and guidance materials;

Appropriate:  to the client’s needs and stage of development;

Confidential: within an ethical framework and with an awareness of legal limits within the guidance process;

Equality of opportunity: promoting and demonstrating equality of opportunity in relation to adult education with an awareness of the requirements of equality legislation;

Impartial:, in order to safeguard the interests of the client;

Individual Ownership & Opportunity: provision of information on educational opportunities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as appropriate, which best meet the client’s needs.

Integrated: clients are encouraged to take ownership and responsibility for their individual choices and decisions;

Quality Standards and delivery:  agreed standards of delivery, professionally qualified staff, together with appropriate facilities and resources to meet the needs of the client groups;

Team Approach: adopting a team approach with education providers encourages the integration of guidance within adult education;

Transparent: The guidance process itself should be open and transparent. Guidance practitioners should explain to individuals in clear, appropriate language how they propose to work with them within the guidance process;

Complaints handling: Guidance Service providers should have a complaints procedure for clients and systems for obtaining client feedback.


Post date: Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 11:52

Subject Choice: A Resource for Guidance Counsellors

The Student Resource Sheet, which is designed as a brief guide to students who are in the process of opting for subjects in the Junior Cycle, accompanies this resource page for Guidance Counsellors. A Parents Resource Sheet, based on that for students, is also available.

Clearly, the range of subjects, both compulsory and optional, will depend on the resources of the school and on the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills. Similarly, the timing of students’ decision making in relation to subjects is largely a matter for schools.

The choice of optional subjects prior to first year is discouraged. While schools have different systems in place to enable students’ subject choices, it is assumed here that students will have had an opportunity to study the optional subjects during first year in order that they may make informed choices following careful consideration. Ideally, this will be with your collaboration and with that of their parents or guardians. It is also assumed that optional subjects are chosen prior to the end of first year.

In the longer term, the development of the Framework for Junior Cycle and of the Junior Cycle Profile of Assessment will have a bearing on the subjects and short courses provided by a school. Further information on this is available on the Department website at:

Part of your role, as guidance counsellor, is to provide information to students, in both group settings and on an individual basis. Your role may also be to collaborate with and to inform your colleagues and school management about the implications of the choices made by students and of the processes in place to facilitate those choices. You may find the resource 'Understanding Your Interests', available for download below, useful. This resource can be used to support student learning regarding their interests and aptitudes. The resource can be applied in a classroom setting by presenting to students for completion, followed by discussion of their choces in small groups.

Understanding Your Interests

Students are encouraged to consult parents and important others, such as the guidance counsellor in considering their options.

In brief, it is proposed that, at the level of the Junior Cycle, the primary consideration in choosing a subject is a student’s liking for that subject.
It is also proposed that, in addition to Irish, English and Mathematics, the ‘safe range’ of subjects in Junior Cycle includes an additional language and Science.

For the Senior Cycle, it is proposed that, in addition to liking a subject, students need to consider the entry requirements for their chosen career or course. It is obvious that such consideration takes time for most students and that much information is required. The NCCA website at is an essential resource for this purpose.

Qualifax  and CareersPortal are also very useful in identifying course entry requirements.

The Career State Inventory – Subject Choices may be useful in identifying students in need of support regarding their subject choices. Students identified using the CSI as being dissatisfied in this regard may particularly benefit from the  resources provided above.

CSI - Subject Choices

NCGE acknowledges the contribution of Colum Layton in the development of this resource page.

The CSI is published by the Florida State University Libraries under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license, allowing any reader to copy and distribute the CSI content without permission of the authors or the Florida State University Libraries, provided that the authors of the content are given proper attribution and that the content is not modified in any way.


Post date: Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 11:46

Effective Study: A Resource for Guidance Counsellors

This resource page for guidance counsellors is accompanied by two others: 
one for students and one for parents.

What follows is a checklist based on the items in the student resource sheet. Underlying the student resource sheet are a number of assumptions, namely, that students will:
  • be self-directing and will have made some progress in their studies
  • aspire to the characteristics of the effective and efficient student
  • consult with important people in their lives when in need of help and encouragement
  • have access to a competent guidance counsellor
The parents’ resource page is more general in nature but is also based on the content of the student resource page
The purpose of this resource page is to help guidance counsellors to deal with many of the issues presented by students who wish to improve their study skills and habits. Clearly, while it lists many issues, it provides only a framework on which to explore some of the concerns of students. It does not provide any details or underlying theory about the issues.
Guidance counsellors will be familiar with the many resources in book form, on the internet and in the form of assessment instruments that are available. These should be used to underpin normal guidance practice. Similarly, and importantly, academic research and evidence on areas related to study, such as memory, learning and assessment, are in constant development and such evidence should be the basis of informed practice.
It is clearly stated in the student resource sheet that, in accordance with the concept of appropriate guidance, the guidance counsellor is there to help those who, having tried to study effectively, wish for affirmation, guidance and help in seeking improvement.
Similarly, in the context of the continuum of support promoted by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and in the context of whole-school guidance, the resource sheet could be used in a variety of settings by the guidance counsellor or by subject teachers, as appropriate. It is envisaged that, for example, it might be used by the guidance counsellor in planning and implementing guidance lessons and in establishing a consistent and coherent approach to study among teaching staff, both in their general approach to study and in advising students about approaches to studying their individual subjects.
On the student resource page, the issues that can help, or hinder, effective study are grouped under the following categories:
When to ask for help ?
While the student resource page is intended to help students to devise their own study plans and routines, some will want to improve the way they study or to seek affirmation and encouragement about their current work. The guidance counsellor is suggested as a person to approach if a student, for example:
  • Has tried to use some of the ideas listed and they don’t seem to work
  • Is confused by the number of possible things that can go wrong
  • Needs further information about any of the ideas listed
  • Needs help in making a start.
  • Needs someone to check that what is being done is effective.
Issues with study may be subject-related for some students. Collaboration by the guidance counsellor with subject teachers in the identification of useful study methods for their subjects might enable teachers to deal with questions from students as they arise. In addition, such collaboration might help teachers to identify students with issues more appropriately dealt with by the guidance counsellor.
Students are encouraged to speak to the guidance counsellor individually or in class groups. It is suggested that the guidance counsellor would welcome in advance some of the questions that students have in mind, in order to help in preparing answers to their particular concerns.


It is suggested that while much information exists about study skills, memory, reading, note taking, etc. in books and on websites such as:, and on the Student Resources section of, students should still turn to the guidance counsellor for help in resolving any issues they might encounter.

NCGE acknowledges the contribution of Colum Layton in the development of this resource page.

Further recommended reading:

'Helping students to concentrate while studying' by Aidan Moran could be read in conjunction with this article.  

It can be found HERE in "Delivering the Guidance Programme" section.



Post date: Monday, February 12, 2018 - 10:25

Data protection for the Guidance Counsellor (GDPR)

The role of the Guidance Counsellor has been an essential element in providing students and job seekers with professional, objective advice on their strengths, abilities and aptitudes.
As such, the role necessarily involves the processing of personal and often highly confidential information regarding people of all ages. In that context, the activities of the Guidance Counsellor must be compliant with the Irish Data Protection legislation.
Introducing a further challenge, in May 2018 the Irish and European Data Protection landscape will change significantly with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation – a new set of data management obligations which will take effect across the European region on the same date.This article and webinar offer a brief overview of the Regulation, as well as setting the day-to-day activities of Guidance Counsellors within that context. We consider the data being used by the Guidance Counsellor, the particular challenges of working with minors, and the differences between those working as employees of schools or colleges, and those operating as self-employed professionals.Throughout, we try to offer pragmatic suggestions on how to manage personal data in a manner that is both accessible and relevant for the professional Guidance Counsellor.

Click below to view the webinar recording.

You can dowload the accompanying article at the end of this page

Post date: Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 19:27

Immigration and Residency in Ireland: An Overview for Education Providers

Ireland has become a very diverse society over the past decade – Census 2016 showed that 180 distinct countries were recorded as a country of origin for non -Irish immigrants in the year to April 2016. The status, rights and entitlements of the diverse student population are complex and this article will provide an overview for guidance counsellors and school management on the rights and entitlements of this diverse student population.