NCGE Resources

Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 12:11

Exam taking skills: A Resource for Guidance Counsellors

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

The purpose of this resource is to help guidance counsellors to deal with many of the issues presented by students who wish to improve their approach to examinations. 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.

A version of this resource page for guidance counsellors has also been adapted for students and for parents. The resource page summarises what is involved in preparing for examinations. It is linked to another resource which summarises study skills, available HERE.

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, such as Study - Learning to Learn: A Parents’ Guide by Brian Wall (2013) and published by The Institute of Guidance Counsellors.*

These should be used to underpin normal guidance practice. Similarly, and importantly, academic research and evidence on areas related to examinations, such as stress management, 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.

The student resource sheet includes a number of underlying assumptions, such that students will:

  • be self-directing and will have made some progress in their studies
  • consult important people in their lives when in need of help and encouragement
  • have access to a competent guidance counsellor

Some students find it easy to study effectively and to prepare for examinations. They are the fortunate ones. They have found ways of learning more in the limited time available.

Other students, however, find it more difficult. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the reasons are quite complicated, and students will need the help of guidance counsellors and teachers to seek solutions.

The PDF Preparing for Exams can be accessed for download below and HERE. It can be presented as a quick reference guide to help you, as guidance counsellor, and your students to think about examinations and to encourage them to deal with any of the issues that might arise. In the context of classroom guidance, for example, it is suggested that any of the topics could be used in the context of a series of classroom guidance as part of the area of learning:  Developing my Learning (NCGE: A Whole School Guidance Framework, 2017) for lessons on exam preparation. It is clear that the involvement of subject teachers in the planning and delivery of such content would provide opportunities for whole-school participation in the delivery of the Guidance programme.

The information in the student resource sheet is designed to help students in reviewing their preparation for the exam. They summarise the essentials of exam preparation and fall under the following headings;

  • Mind yourself
  • Be prepared
  • Revise
  • The exam

When to ask for help?

While the student resource sheet is intended to help students to devise their own approaches to examinations, some will want to improve their methods 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.

Students are encouraged to speak to the guidance counsellor and to subject teachers 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.

Furthermore, it is suggested that while much information exists about exam preparation, stress management, memory, reading, note taking, etc. in books, such as Study—Learning to Learn: A Parents’ Guide by Brian Wall (2013) and published by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, and on websites such as and on the Student Resources section of , students should turn to the guidance counsellor for help in resolving any issues they might encounter.*

* Disclaimer: Links to external  resources developed by individuals or other organisations are being provided as a convenience and are for informational purposes only.They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by NCGE, of the content the organisation or individual. NCGE  bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of external resources or for that of subsequent links. It is up to Guidance Counsellors to review whether these resources are appropriate and contact the resource owners directly for answers to questions regarding their content.

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


Post date: Monday, November 26, 2018 - 10:12

Striving for social justice: towards emancipatory guidance practices

Professional development webinar with Prof. Ronald Sultana, Director of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research, University of Malta.

‘Striving for social justice: towards emancipatory guidance practices’

This webinar recording (from November 2018) with Prof. Ronald Sultana explores social justice, the impact of neo-liberalism on people’s lives and on public services, why guidance matters and how guidance can contribute to the emancipatory project. 

You can download an accompanying presentation (used as part of Prof. Sultana's input into the National Forum on Guidance) below.

Ronald Sultana is a Professor of Educational Sociology and Comparative Education at the University of Malta, where he directs the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research (EMCER).

He has studied education in Malta, the UK and New Zealand, and was Fulbright Fellow at Stanford University (U.S.A.). Professor Sultana is the founding editor of the Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies, and represents the region on the editorial board of several international journals of education. Professor Sultana is the author or editor of 21 volumes, and has published over a hundred articles and chapters in refereed journals and books. Much of his work relates to educational innovation and evaluation, and the linkages between education and work, including career guidance and educational development.

Post date: Friday, October 26, 2018 - 12:36

GDPR considerations AEGI AGMS

In May 2018 the Irish and European Data Protection landscape changed significantly following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the set of data management obligations which is currently in effect across the entire European region.These regulations have implications for Adult Education Guidance Services, particularly in relation to the Adult Guidance Management Service database (AGMS). In the context of the development of FET wide Guidance service provision, and with the understanding that the existing AGMS is currently under review and redevelopment this webinar provides a brief overview of the Regulation, the Data Management principles of the Regulation, its impact and the rights of the Data Subject.

NCGE plans to develop appropriate GDPR Guidelines for Adult Education Guidance Services in ETB contexts; this webinar therefore informs the current and ongoing use of the AEGI AGMS database in the context of GDPR compliance.

It is hosted by NCGE FET Programme Coordinator Mary Stokes, and Hugh Jones, co-founder of Data Protection specialists Sytorus.

Click below to view the webinar recording.

The webinar can be roughly divided into 3 parts / sections

  • Part 1 is hosted by Mary Stokes and concerns GDPR considerations for the AEGI use of the AGMS.
  • Part 2 is hosted by Hugh Jones and provides an overview of GDPR.
  • Part 3 is a Q&A session with both presenters.

You can download the (combined) presentations by Mary Stokes on GDPR considerations and Hugh Jones HERE and at the end of this page.

Post date: Friday, October 26, 2018 - 12:14

A Different Approach for a Different Brain - Guiding Students with Asperger’s Syndrome towards Achievable Goals

This article is intended to aid Guidance counsellors working with students with Asperger’s Syndrome/ASD Level 1.  The first step is to understand the condition. One also needs to bear in mind Professor Stephen Shore’s observation in an interview with 'Merely Me' (a contributor to the Health Central website) that “once you’ve met one person with autism you’ve met one person with autism”. This article looks at the various stages and choices involved in the journey through second-level education with a view to laying the groundwork for successful participation in third-level education or work.

Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 12:58

Supporting and Including Refugee and Asylum Seeking Children in Education

The growing global refugee crisis continued in 2016 with 1.5 million people-seeking asylum in EU Member States. More than quarter of a million of those seeking asylum were children. Globally, only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary level education, and fewer than one in four are enrolled in secondary school. We know that above all else children want to go to school. Ireland has committed to accepting 4,000 refugees and to prioritising children as part of this commitment. To date, 840 refugee and asylum-seeking children have arrived in Ireland as part of relocation and resettlement programmes. This is in addition to the 1,420 asylum-seeking children currently living in Direct Provision centres around the country. This article provides a brief overview of the current refugee crisis in Europe; the experiences of child refugees and; subsequent impacts on their lives and education. It examines current issues and challenges for refugee and asylum seeking children in Ireland today and concludes by discussing best practice approaches, which support the inclusion of refugee and asylum seeking children in education settings.

Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 10:04

Dyslexia: How the Guidance Counsellor can support the student with dyslexia

This article looks at how the guidance counsellor can support the student with dyslexia in Irish post-primary schools. It discusses the different ways in which dyslexia may affect the student and suggests screening if a student presents with difficulties. Identification of dyslexic difficulties is made through an educational psychological assessment. Supports such as Reasonable Accommodations in Certificate Examinations (RACE), Disability Route to Education (DARE) and language exemptions are discussed. The guidance counsellor has a key role in helping the student with dyslexia make key decisions such as subject and course choice. These decisions are crucial in helping the student cope and succeed. The article also discusses several dyslexia-friendly whole school policies such as easy-to-read style guide for notes and other documentation, the readability of textbooks, use of assistive technology and study skills for students with dyslexia.

Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:57

The European dimension

The EU Council resolution on better integrating lifelong guidance into lifelong learning strategies, 2008  defines guidance as a continuous process that enablescitizens at any age and at any point in their lives to identify their capacities, competences and interests, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to manage their life paths in learning, work and other settings where it is possible to acquire and use these capacities and competences. Guidance covers a range of individual and collective activities relating to information giving, counselling,competence assessment, support, and the teaching of decision-making and career management skills.


The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) 2008 -2015 was set up and funded by the EU Commission to support Member States to develop  policies for lifelong guidance.

ELGPN published guidelines for Member States

Guidelines for Policies and Systems Development for Lifelong Guidance A REFERENCE FRAMEWORK FOR THE EU AND FOR THE COMMISSION

Strengthening the Quality Assurance and Evidence-Base of Lifelong Guidance

Designing and Implementing Policies Related to Career Management Skills (CMS)


To access more information regarding the EUROPEAN DIMENSION - go to Euroguidance Ireland:

Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 19:46

The Physical Environment

In designing the physical environment of the Information Centre of the Guidance Service consideration should be given to:

  • clear signposting (both internally and externally);
  • accessible ICT facilities
  • accessibility for clients with disabilities;
  • comfortable and appropriate furniture, such as desks and easy chairs;
  • good lighting and ventilation with a comfortable working temperature;
  • attractive and well maintained appearance;

Clearly displayed information in relation to resources such as:

  • software,
  • media and free literature,
  • photocopying facilities including copyright legislation and assurances on confidentiality and data protection legislation

A  user-friendly library or resource area which has up to date information relevant to target groups and the general public

Space / spaces should be attractive and well equipped

All materials and notice boards on display are in accessible units so that clients can freely browse.

A well-equipped information technology area with workstations, PCs, web access, photocopying and video viewing facilities.

A positive environment which may be achieved through the use of:

  • pictures;
  • photographs;
  • posters;
  • video or sound recording

Group guidance sessions:

To provide a professional guidance service and confidential space for clients to engage with the guidance counsellor, the guidance environment is key.

Group guidance involves individual clients working together with a qualified guidance counsellor facilitating the session.  Often, in a group context, people share quite a lot about their individual experiences, their career aspirations, together with their challenges and achievements.  Therefore, it is very important that the space/environment is conducive to the aims and objectives of the group work

Information and communications technology (ICT)

Guidance Services require access to broadband and appropriate Wifi to ensure provision of onine information to clients.

Guidance services can consider provision of information using E-Guidance, telephone access and social media. In this context guidance services should develop a Social media policy.


When guidance counsellors meet with their clients for ‘one to one’ sessions in an Outreach Centre, the space they work in should:

  • be a dedicated room for the use of the Guidance Service at specific times;
  • be located in a quiet area with no distractions (such as noise);
  • explain the need for privacy without interruptions - consider placing a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door when the room is in use;
  • be a suitable environment - suitably lit, heated and ventilated with adequate seating and ideally, a table;
  • have a cupboard or storage area for the most commonly used materials and resources;
  • have internet access to link in to the guidance counsellor’s laptop;
  • be visible and integrated within the Centre


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