NCGE Resources

Post date: Monday, January 28, 2019 - 16:41

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance of  FET guidance services should be informed by the  ELGPN Guidelines  on Strengthening the Quality Assurance and Evidence-Base for Lifelong Guidance.

  • Practitioner Competence
  • Citizen / User involvement
  • Service provision and improvement
  • Cost benefit to individuals
  • Cost benefit to government ( and /or managing organisations) 
Post date: Monday, January 28, 2019 - 14:31

Policy and Practice Guidelines

National Policy on guidance within the FET Sector is determined by the Department of Education and Skills.

The DES Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019 details the development of the Further Education and training sector in Ireland.

Section 10 Guidance and FET (pages 112-114)  outlines the need for an integrated  FET guidance approach and that …..

'a FET Guidance Service ought build on current AEGI integrated guidance counselling aims; to offer a guidance service to adults and young people over the age of 16 who have left post primary school early, 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 building blocks of an integrated guidance strategy for the FET sector should include:

1. Development of national referral protocols between Adult Guidance Services and DSP and other national agencies – HSE, disability services etc.

2. Widening of the remit of the Adult Educational Guidance Services to become the Adult Guidance and Information Services for the FET sector and general public, providing quality impartial education and career/vocational information and quality guidance provision through one-to-one guidance, group guidance and outreach provision

 3. The Adult Guidance Service would develop and ensure collaboration with PLC-based guidance provision, and will include those guidance counsellors who are currently working within and across other ETB programmes.

4. All guidance staff employed by ETBs, outside of the current AEGI and PLC structure, would be linked to the adult guidance service to ensure quality assurance of service, reporting mechanisms and access to national supports and continuous professional development programmes.

5. Implementation of a national quality assurance system for the guidance services based on national and EU good practice and guidelines.

6. A national advisory committee of representatives from DES/SOLAS/NCGE/ETBI and other relevant stakeholders to ensure a national approach to the guidance provision within the FET sector.

The DES Programme Recognition Framework (2016) states clearly the requirements of the Department for those who wish to be employed in the education and training sector as guidance counsellors.

Guidance is defined in the context of adult guidance, i.e. for those over the age of 18 years.

In this adult guidance context i.e. The AEGS, guidance is defined as facilitating people “…to manage their own educational, training, occupational, personal, social, and life choices so that they reach their full potential and contribute to the development of a better society” (National Guidance Forum, 2007;  pg. 6).

Activities relating to the work of the guidance counsellor in all service settings include the following:

  • Designing, delivering and evaluating guidance learning and developmental programmes relating to personal and social, educational and career development for individual, group and classroom settings
  • Developing effective teaching, learning and assessment strategies for the guidance class
  • Providing individual and group counselling to facilitate personal and social, educational and career development and at moments of personal crisis
  • Providing labour market, learning and career-related information through Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and blended learning approaches
  • Planning and organising workplace learning and establishing links with the wider business community, agencies and voluntary sector
  • Using psychometric tests (i.e. ability and aptitude tests and career interest inventories) to facilitate career decision-making and personal development, and to support learning and educational choices
  • Providing support to, and working in collaboration with, school and ETB management and staff in the planning, leading, delivery, review and evaluation of the guidance service/programme and the whole school guidance plan
  • Working with parents (as appropriate) and referral agencies in facilitating the personal and social, educational and career development of students and service users 
  • Referring students and service users to external agencies and professionals, as appropriate
  • Establishing close ties with feeder schools, where appropriate, and with centres of further education and training and higher education

In 2017 the Department of Education and Skills  began the process of an overarching review of guidance services within the education and training sector. The outcomes of this Review will inform the further developments of the FET Guidance Strategy.

Departmental Circulars:

Circular 70/04 – Adult Educational Guidance Counsellors and Co-ordinators

Circular 0015 / 2007 Adult Guidance Information officers

The allocation of guidance hours within the PLC schools is outlined in Circular :


Guidance Service Guidelines:

Until the development of the FET Guidance Strategy, DES guidelines continue to inform practice and delivery of service

Minimum supervision requirements for AEGI staff



SOLAS (An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileanna) is the Further Education and Training Authority operating under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills. It co-ordinates and funds the wide range of training and further education programmes around the country. SOLAS was established to integrate the Further Education and Training Sector in Ireland and give strategic direction to that sector. The delivery of Further Education and Training is the responsibility of 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs). Guidance in Further Education and Training is informed by the publication, Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019. Section 10 of this publication, entitled Guidance and FET, looks at guidance counselling policy as well as current guidance practice pertaining to the FET sector.

Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 - 17:17

Anxiety and Stress

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal and healthy reaction to a stressful situation.
All teenagers experience some amount of anxiety at times and it is a very common presenting issue among students in school.

Stress affects everyone in different ways.
Some stress can be
positive as it makes students more alert and helps them to perform better. It can also help them deal with tense or challenging situations like starting post primary education, taking examinations, competing in sporting events, public speaking, going on a date etc. 

However stress becomes distress when it is not short lived and when the young person is worried and anxious a lot of the time
It is also a problem when there is no obvious reason for them to feel anxious or stressed.

The most important messages that guidance counsellors and teachers can give to students is that:

  • it is ok and normal to feel anxious and stressed
  • this is something they can cope with
  • it helps to talk about how they are feeling
  • there are many techniques to deal with anxiety and stress
  • there is always additional support available

Causes of Anxiety

There are many things that cause anxiety. Anxiety is individual i.e. what causes one person anxiety may not affect another.

You should be concerned when the anxiety that a student is experiencing is impacting significantly on their day to day functioning or if they are school refusing or experiencing Panic Attacks.
Panic Attacks can be very frightening for students and also for teachers who are with the student when they occur. Additional seperate resources on Panic Attacks can be accessed via the 'further resources' link below.

The School Refusal Good Practice Guide for Schools is also a useful resource if a student is school refusing.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety affects people in different ways. It can affect the way people feel (physical symptoms), think (mental symptoms) and behave (behavioural symptoms).
See Anxiety resources at the end of this page for further details. Being familiar with these symptoms is important, as it is key for identifying anxious students and aiding them to reduce symptoms.

How to Help a Student to Reduce their Anxious Feelings

There is no single technique to manage anxiety. However there are a number of techniques that when used together will reduce anxiety and its symptoms. See the Anxiety resources below (again) for further details.

Practicing relaxation creates the opposite effects to stress and anxiety. There are many relaxation techniques and different things work for different people. Teachers can introduce relaxation practices into their classes and encourage the students to continue to practise these at home. The resource Relaxation Techniques available at the link below provides a number of different practices that can be distributed to all staff. There are lots of free downloadable Mindfulness and Relaxation apps which can be highlighted and used by teachers. They can also be highlighted on the school website, school newsletter, noticeboards, at parent evenings etc.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is very effective in helping people manage anxiety. (More information on CBT can be found from a number of websites, including the HSE HERE)

Schools can contact for printed poster and postcard packs advertising the Little Things campaign, which was designed to remind us of the little things that make a big difference to how we feel.

Individual Support

Students experiencing anxiety or stress should be encouraged to talk to the Guidance Counsellor for short term extra support.

If they are reluctant to do this or if they need input from a more specialised service, encourage them to visit their GP who can refer them to CAMHS or another relevant service.


Anxiety - Information For Teachers and Guidance Counsellors

Anxiety - Information For Parents

Anxiety - Information For Students

Access further resources regarding Anxiety and Stress (and panic attacks)


Post date: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 14:33

Record Templates for Guidance Counselling One-to-One Meetings with Students

In keeping with professional good practice in guidance; records should be kept of all meetings with students.

Examples of simple, one-page templates for use during an educational/career guidance one-to-one meeting and a personal guidance counselling one-to-one meeting with students can be accessed below.

One-to-one template - Education / Career

One-to-one template - Personal

The templates may help to summarise the issues regularly encountered during one-to-one meetings with students. 

Please feel free to adapt the templates to suit your needs.

The templates can be downloaded and saved to your desktop.
You can type into the PDFs directly or you can leave blank and print.

It would be good practice to discuss the notes you have taken with students at the end of a one-to-one meeting and to invite the student to sign this record also.  As the student can request a copy of your records under GDPR it is important to be mindful of this when taking notes. Notes should be succinct and be factual in nature, and describe thoughts and feelings expressed by the student e.g. John reported feeling confused and anxious rather than ‘John is suffering from anxiety and is confused’.    

It should be noted that:

  • The classes of information recorded in the template should be adapted to your needs
  • Records of the career interviews and interviews of a personal nature (students experiencing challenges/crises) should be kept separately
  • If you have access to the school database, it might not be necessary to record items such as exam results
  • The use of an identifier, rather than a name, will help to maintain anonymity
  • If used, the document linking identifiers and names should be kept separately
  • Records should comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  Guidance counsellors should refer to their school policy on GDPR in the first instance. More detailed information about the GDPR may be found HERE in the School Guidance Handbook

In brief, the GDPR stipulates that;

  • Minimal information be recorded
  • Records be kept securely when not in use
  • Written consent of parents and students to engage with the supports available in a school should be sought at least annually
  • Confidential data may be disclosed only with the clear and explicit consent of the student and parents/guardians
  • You should be aware of your data protection responsibilities
  • Data that you keep should not be freely accessible by others
  • Your data should be in accord with the school’s data security policy


Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - 16:24

Applying for Jobs: A Resource for Guidance Counsellors

A resource sheet for students has been prepared for those who wish to apply for a job. The resource sheet is available below.

The resource sheet suggests that students applying for jobs as part of work experience/placement/shadowing/seasonal part-time work will probably go through the following stages;

They will:

  • Have identified what work they prefer (from experience, learning, courses etc)
  • Seek information about jobs, such as how to apply
  • Have identified a job that is of interest
  • Prepare a CV and, if necessary, an application form
  • Submit a covering letter, to introduce themselves
  • Await a reply

Clearly, your role as guidance counsellor in the longer term is to encourage students to reflect on their interests and experiences, to help them to clarify their personal preferences, to access information about work, careers and the labour market and to help them to decide what areas of work are most likely to match their preferences. 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 choices in small groups.

The Applying for Jobs resource sheet provides links to the Europass website, which is highly recommended as a valuable asset in guidance provision. In particular, the Europass website facilitates job applications through an easy-to-use interface bringing jobseekers through the development of a CV and cover letter, among others.

In addition to your longer-term work in supporting students career development, it is suggested that the preparation of a CV and cover letter might be the subject of a number of classroom guidance sessions as part of the area of learning: Developing My Career Path (Guidance for All)  (NCGE: A Whole School Guidance Framework, 2017) and in individual work with students, based on the Europass website at: and on the QQI website at:

More specifically, CV preparation will be found at:

and the preparation of a cover letter at:

 It is further suggested that, as communication skills, students might be exposed to learning these skills through collaborative work among teachers in a variety of programmes and subjects, and by the creative use of information technology in job searches, information seeking and the preparation of documents.

The student resource 'Applying for Jobs' can be accessed for download  HERE.

The resource ‘Understanding Your Interests’ can be accessed for download HERE. 

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

Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 14:25

The Future of Work

The International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy (ICCDPP - an international non-profit organisation) collects, publishes and disseminates policy material internationally, and in different languages, to help countries and regions/states/provinces to make better policies and strategies for career guidance for their citizens.  

Recent update from ICCDPP

THE FUTURE OF WORK - Implications for preparing the workforce of the future, Which are the 21st Century skills, capabilities, and attributes, that people need for the changing world of work and occupations? Curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking and empathy, skills that machines cannot yet demonstrate? 

What does the future of work look like? is a nice overview of changes already taking place and of the need for planning training for the future.

ICCDPP supports the organizing and hosting of international symposia on career development and public policy, the most recent of which was held in Seoul, Korea, in June 2017 (, and the international and national follow-up to the recommendations of these symposia. The next symposium will be held in Norway in June 2019 (




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.