Page 1

Autumn 2013 / Issue 40

inside this issue

Resilience for the guidance counsellor

Psychometric testing update

Career Adaptability

Guidance Adapts!

Smart phone apps reviewed!

Contents Primary

General Director’s Note

National Forum on Guidance

Academia seeing the wider picture




Post Primary Psychometric Testing update

Recognition of Irish Student’s qualifications in Europe

School Guidance Handbook




Non Formal

School-based Play Therapy in Ireland


Higher Education Career adaptability and skills supply


Adult Personal and Professional Resilience

25 Euroguidance


Learner Ambassadors

NCGE supporting guidance research in Ireland

E-Guidance - Providing Guidance via Skype




Euroguidance news


Book Review


CV Library

Life Story Work with Children Who are Fostered or Adopted

News from NCGE




Smart-phone app Review

Website Review



Contact Details Fitzwilliam Court, Leeson Close, Dublin 2 Tel: +353 1 869 0715/6 Fax: +353 1 882 3817 Email: 2

NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Director’s Note Supporting Change, Confidence through Evidence, Learning from Experience – all are former themes of this newsletter which are more relevant today than ever. Guidance is a process, constantly evolving and adapting. Accompanying this are the phrases we are all too familiar with in Ireland and across the EU in 2013 - career adaptability, transition, changing and challenging times. These are the times we live in.

In guidance, the very nature of the work is

guidance to ensure quality provision. It is vital for

predicated on the notion that young people and

good practice in guidance to integrate new theories

adults experience transitions and changes and that

and practices and to work in collaboration with

they need information skills and support to make

colleagues, whatever our guidance sector.

life choices, whether in an economic boom or a recession. In 2013, the working and employment

Developments at EU and national level in areas

environments have changed. Careers and jobs for

such as Psychometric testing, and continuing

life no longer exist. Education or training in one

professional development, directly impact the role

specific skill or area is no longer enough. Employers

of, and practice in, guidance. It is incumbent on the

are looking for candidates with basic and higher level

guidance profession to adapt to these changes. It is

competencies and transferrable skills in a range of

clear from research and anecdotal evidence that, due

areas – candidates with the skill to adapt.

to current circumstances, guidance counsellors must now also adapt to revised working arrangements in

What is clearly evident is that guidance is not only

schools and yet guidance practitioners in all sectors

adapting to meet these changing needs – it is

must remember to look after their own well-being at

adapting to this new world and remaining resilient

the same time as that of their students or clients.

in the process. This truly is the function of guidance As guidance professionals we must reflect on

and its unique strength.

the changing environments in which we work and In this edition, we highlight how guidance provision

continue to ensure quality provision to our clients.

continues to adapt to support the needs of clients,

However, we must also look after ourselves and

whatever the environment. Guidance professionals

manage our own transitions in incorporating these

are incorporating ICT into their practice, they are

new practices. We hope that the articles within this

using a range of new resources – smart phone apps,

Winter Edition 2013 will encourage and support

online handbooks and some are providing guidance

guidance practitioners to adapt and remain resilient

online. Guidance itself must adapt to the changes

in the face of all this change!

in society and yet continue to advocate for and support clients. At the same time guidance practice

Is mise le meas,

is informing new relevant and updated policies.

Jennifer McKenzie

The promotion of quality guidance requires that we document both the outcomes of, and the inputs to,


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


National Forum on Guidance Following the evaluations and recommendations of the National Forum on Guidance 2011-2012, the Department of Education and Skills approved the NCGE co-ordination and continuation of the Forum for 2013-2014 to reflect the collaborative work at EU level through the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network. In this article, NCGE provides details of the second meeting of the Forum.

What is the European Resource Kit?

NCGE hosted the second meeting of the National Forum on Guidance 2013-14 in the Clock Tower of the

The European Resource Kit was developed by and

Department of Education and Skills on Wednesday

is currently being tested by the 31 Member states of

16th October. This second meeting followed the National Conference on Guidance: Lifelong Guidance: Building the Evidence Base, on March 1st last, where Minister Ruairí Quinn launched the process of testing the European Resource Kit in the Irish context.

the ELGPN across the EU. The aim of the Resource Kit is to support members to: • Review existing lifelong guidance provision in the country or region • To identify issues requiring attention / gaps that need to be filled, drawing from practices from other countries

The National Forum on Guidance provides the opportunity for different sectors in guidance to continue the work of networking, co-operating and co-ordinating at national level. 35 participants attended this event, representing all sectors of guidance provision in Ireland: third level career services, post primary schools, Adult Guidance Services, Local Employment Services, job centres,

For more information on the ELGPN and the European resource Kit – see http:// to LINK guidance-policy-network/ In Ireland the work of testing the European Resource Kit is focusing on the testing of frameworks of Quality Assurance and evidence based practice (QAE) and Career Management Skills(CMS).

Directors of studies in guidance counselling, ICT providers, students of guidance counselling and government agencies and departments.

Focused on the quality elements of the QAE framework and identifying and planning for supporting the development of CMS for the future - the facilitated workshops and group discussions provided the chance for participants from all sectors to share information and compare and contrast guidance provision in a structured way. The groups were also encouraged to consider how they, in each of their own sectors, can begin to work collaboratively on an inter-agency and intra-agency basis. r Dave Kilmartin of DIT, and Jennife sented pre co– GE McKenzie, Director NC the Forum meeting

Participants at the day’s events commented that the discussions and workshops had highlighted a genuine commitment of all involved to share practice,


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


National Guidance Forum continued

ideas for the provision of guidance and a willingness to participate in the testing of the resource kit with NCGE over the next academic year. NCGE would like to acknowledge and express our sincerest thanks to Dave Kilmartin, Head of Career Development Centre, DIT, for his genuine commitment to the work of testing the European Resource Kit, and for his outstanding facilitation of the workshops and discussions.

ry (UL) Patricia-Anne Moore (UL), Tom Gea AEGS) and Elizabeth Glennon (Longford

• Does the Framework, as developed in the Resource Kit, support both the identification of these CMS’ and the methodologies of guidance provision to develop these skills?

For further information on the National Forum on Guidance and presentations from this Forum please see http://www. meeting,

NCGE has developed documentation to support this work at sector level, using our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to provide discussion fora and



Testing the European Resource Kit

facilitate online sharing of ideas and documentation.

What’s involved? NCGE AEGI,





with IGC

and Directors of Studies in Guidance



review the frameworks outlined in the European Resource Kit. Each agency / organisation has been asked to review two sections of the Framework and test them out in their own sector.

versation Forum participants engaged in con during facilitated group discussion.

Looking at Quality Assurance and evidence based practice (QAE) • Do the 5 quality elements make sense in their sector? • What data do we already have in each sector to reflect these key quality elements? • Would these 5 elements provide the appropriate evidence for quality guidance provision in their sector? • Are there other key elements, criteria or indicators that we would need to include in an Irish context? • What can we, in Ireland, feedback to the ELGPN about this QAE Framework? Looking at Career Management Skills (CMS) • Are we documenting the expected outcomes of guidance that can be reflected in an objective and quality assured way? • What CMS are being supported by guidance providers across all the different sectors?

What is the timeline? NCGE will continue to work with the organisations and agencies who have begun this process and we welcome interest from other organisations who may wish to participate in the project. We plan to support groups to test the Kit in their sector from October – December. We will gather data and feedback from January – March 2014. We hope to bring the initial data findings to the Forum for comment and further discussion in April. NCGE plans to present the final report of testing the European resource Kit for Ireland to the Forum meeting in October 2014. If you wish to get involved in this project please contact NCGE on



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Seeing the wider picture Here we present the experiences of Irish Guidance Counsellor’s on the Academia Exchange of Guidance Practitioners 2013. Many people who take part in the exchange find that it is by leaving their own work environment, and being plunged into another culture, as well as mingling with others practicing in many countries; that they can see the wider picture in terms of guidance and how their work fits into the whole scheme of things.

Ancestry and Wild Geese meet in Reykjavik Insights Gained from participation on the “Academia Exchange of Guidance Counsellors” Reykjavik, Iceland April 2013 Following Iceland’s economic crisis one-to-one guidance for adults was given priority to identify

Centre of West Iceland, Guidance Centre of the University of Iceland. We shared how resources could be creatively and economically deployed, which inspired us to think in broader terms.

individual’s training needs. This ensured efficient use of scarce resources and enabled people to retrain in order to re-enter the workforce as the economy recovered. In this time of transition and change adult guidance is more important than ever as people have to adapt to changing circumstances.

Like the Wild Geese travelling from Wexford, and resting in Ireland on route to Greenland, Josephine and I were similarly refreshed and renewed in our commitment to adult guidance and to its further development in its aim to contribute to the recovery and prosperity of the Irish economy.

There was much interest from our counterparts from Denmark, Iceland, Slovenia and France, in the Irish system. This was followed up with a return visit to Ireland by Icelandic adult guidance staff in June. Greatly admired was the flexibility of the National Framework of Qualifications, offering as it does the opportunity to give validation to all learners.

Catherine Gavigan Guidance Coordinator Co Offaly VEC AEGI


Further Information

The learning offered through the ELPGN is a useful resource that can contribute to mutual learning around dealing with managing in austerity. Throughout the week we had the opportunity to visit many places of interest, including: the Agricultural University of Iceland, Lifelong Learning

Read Catherine’s full article here h t t p : / / w w w. n c g e . i e / u p l o a d s / Academia_report_2013_ Catherine_Gavigan.docx CLICK to LINK


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Seeing the wider picture continued

Catherine Gavigan Guidance Counsellor/ Coordinator Co Offaly VEC AEGS and Josephine McGread Guidance Coordinator Co Sligo VEC AEGS participated on the Academia Exchange of Guidance Counsellors in Reykjavik Iceland from April 8th to April 12th 2013. demia The group of participants at the Aca 3. visit in Reykjavik, Iceland April 201

Academia study visit to Helsinki, Finland. April, 2013. Nine guidance practitioners from France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland were welcomed by Jari Laukia, Director of Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki. He gave an overview of the School of Applied Sciences and its contribution to the training of Guidance Counsellors. He raised a number of critical questions concerning the current education and the economic climate in Finland. Of central concern to him was what is happening to the 8% of the student population who are not progressing from Upper Secondary School either to University or to the Polytechnics. He stressed what he perceived as the lack of strategic thinking and planning by the present Finnish Government in relation to future economic development. These two questions served as a very useful lens through which to view the school based shadowing and presentations throughout the entire week of Academia. These questions are very relevant to the Irish context also.

informative and relevant. The Academia week was hosted by Paivi-Katrina Juutilainen of the School of Applied Sciences, Haaga Helia University and facilitated and guided by Kati Virolainen of the Euro Guidance Office. Their energetic and engaging facilitation of the programme contributed greatly to the success of the week. The on-going reflection and evaluation of the experiences throughout the week and particularly at mid-week and end of week deepened the quality of our learning. Tom Geary, Department of Education Professional Studies, University of Limerick.

Highpoints of the week were the visits to schools, presentations from peers from France, Belgium and Luxembourg on Guidance across the life span. The visits, to CIMO and in particular the unit coordinating information for young people studying abroad, the Economic Information Centre and the Teacher Trade Union Offices, were

Further Information Read Tom’s full report here h t t p : / / w w w. n c g e . i e / u p l o a d s / Academia_report_2013_Tom_ Geary.docx CLICK to LINK



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Seeing the wider picture continued

EU Leonardo da Vinci ‘Academia Exchange of Guidance Counsellors mobility project 2013 Aarhus Denmark; May 13th to 17th 2013 Theme: Young people at risk

Margie Wall, Guidance Counsellor with Co

as well as being good fun! I had a particular interest in the very successful Finnish JOPO project which focuses on early interventions, intensified home school cooperation and a multi-agency approach involving guidance counsellors, teachers, social and health services and workplaces.

Kilkenny VEC was one of eleven participants on this project. The Academia group consisted of Guidance Counsellors from France, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia and Ireland. The emphasis of this visit was on Guidance and Educational activities for ‘Young people at risk’. There was also a social and cultural focus to the project. At the outset we were given an overview of the Danish Education system. There is a strong emphasis at all levels on Guidance provision, particularly for young vulnerable people. During the week we visited VIA University college, Aarhus Production school, a Labour Market centre running a project for young unemployed people, a Folk house school (privately run as a business), and an Enterprise centre. The latter centre is running an innovative programme on the working world for young people.

I was privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to participate in the Academia exchange. It was a rejuvenating experience as not only did I learn of many examples of good practice in Guidance but I felt more affirmed in my own work with young people at risk. Margie Wall, Guidance Counsellor, Ormonde College of Further Education, Kilkenny

Whilst on the visits we got the opportunity to meet with teachers, guidance counsellors and students and we had many fruitful exchanges on guidance practices. There is a strong emphasis on a multiagency approach to organising projects for young people at risk in order to get them motivated and interested in education and in developing vocational skills. Many of the centres that we visited had their own culinary departments where the students provided nutritious meals for staff and students every day. I was very impressed with the standard of English spoken by all the students we met and by the work ethic of their educators.

The group gather for reflection and


Further Information Read Margie’s full report here h t t p : / / w w w. n c g e . i e / u p l o a d s / Academia_report_2013_Margie_ Wall.docx

Our afternoons were filled with ‘exchanges of experience’ from the participating guidance counsellors. These sessions were very informative



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


GUIDANCE COUNSELLORS! Are you working in guidance counselling in Ireland? Would you like to experience best practice in another European Country?

Academia is for you! Application forms are available at: Or you can email for further information (Closing date end Nov 2013) And you could be visiting another European country to experience their guidance systems next Spring! Academia involves a one week study visit for guidance practitioners. Please note successful applicants will have a grant allowance towards the cost of travel and subsistence



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


School-based Play Therapy in Ireland - A Growing Field ‘Play is not only essential for promoting normal child development but has many therapeutic powers as well’ (Schaefer and Drewes, 2011, p. 15). Guidance in Ireland refers to a range of learning experiences provided in a developmental sequence which assist students to make choices -personal and social, educational and career - about their lives and to make transitions consequent on these choices. While formal guidance does not currently exist at primary level, other forms of support can aid the development of the child. Play therapists working in schools focus on the developmental needs of the participants, with a strong emphasis on building resiliency, coping with transitions, developing emotional intelligence, and building social skills. Play therapists can work with children struggling to adjust to a range of issues, including changes in their world (e.g. parental separation, bereavement). They can also assist in finding ways to cope with learning difficulties like ADHD and autism along with emotional issues like anxiety and low selfesteem. When therapists and teachers can work together in the best interests of children, high quality services and a richer preparation for successful living are assured. The Third Annual International Play Therapy Conference, organised by the Children’s Therapy Centre (CTC), was held in Dublin on Friday 21st June 2013. The conference, entitled Play in Practice: Utilizing, evaluating, and reflecting on the therapeutic use of play, was preceded by Pre-Conference Training, facilitated by the Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute in Calgary, Canada. Guidance Officer at NCGE, Hilary Lynch, participated in the training and the conference as part of her remit incorporating guidance at primary level. She spoke with Eileen Prendiville of the CTC about the growing field of Play Therapy within schools in Ireland.

The practice of school based play therapy in Ireland

Teachers are alert to the emotional and behavioural

is growing rapidly, with qualified play therapists

changes in the children in their care and, when

providing play and creative therapy services at both

services are readily available, can ensure early

primary and post-primary level. The Irish Association

intervention for those that need it. This can help to

for Play Therapy and Psychotherapy (IAPTP), and the

reduce obstacles to learning, improve adaptation

British Association for Play Therapy (BAPT) advocate

in the classroom, and help young people to build

the provision of school-based play therapy in Ireland

healthier relationships.

and internationally.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


School-based Play Therapy in Ireland continued

Play therapists utilize the healing properties of play

to be brought into focus’ (Prendiville, 2013, p.92).

and the creative arts to facilitate students to overcome

The themes and content of play and creative arts are

difficult experiences, enhance social and emotional

informed by the player’s current preoccupations.

intelligence, cope more successfully with stressors Curative factors of Play Therapy include: facilitating

and adverse circumstances and learn more effectively.


In addition, it makes learning fun, assists children’s





abreaction, catharsis, stress inoculation, counter-

holistic development, and builds resiliency. When

conditioning of negative affect, developing problem

playing, children are functioning at the outer limits of

solving skills, enhancing attachment and relationships,

their ability; play leads development and creates the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978).

and increasing capacity for empathy.

It is very important for children and young people to

IAPTP and BAPT are clear that play therapy reduces emotional and behavioural difficulties, facilitates

be offered developmentally appropriate models of

children to become more receptive to learning, and

therapeutic intervention, as talk therapy is not the

improves how their educational needs are met.

medium of choice for young students. The use of

Addressing troubled children’s emotional needs in the

play, art, music, drama, storytelling, movement and

school environment assists the child-centred system

sand allow for much deeper engagement and more

to meet the emotional and social needs of its pupils,

effective processing of unresolved issues, while facilitating growth and development.

in addition to covering the academic curriculum.

Children often do not have the language skills to

Play therapists working in schools may provide both group and individual sessions. Groupwork tends to

describe their thoughts, feelings and perceptions

focus on the developmental needs of the participants,

of their internal and external world. Play facilitates

with a strong emphasis on building resiliency,

richer communication; it absorbs the player and reflects their psychological processes. It ‘enables

developing emotional intelligence, and building social

complex thoughts, feelings, ideas and perceptions


Supplies for Sandplay therapy


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


School-based Play Therapy in Ireland continued

Sample Sandplay scene: Exploring anxiety and containment

Advantages of School-based Play Therapy • Teachers are adept at recognizing which children are struggling with their emotions, behaviours, and their learning • With careful screening, the service can be provided to those whose needs are best met by school-based services • Early intervention is facilitated • Referral systems can work smoothly as the school staff become very familiar with the service • Therapists and school staff can build positive working in partnership relationships • Children can access immediate therapeutic support should a crisis occur

Possible Challenges include • The therapist sometimes has limited access to parents • Finding an appropriate, private, dedicated space can be difficult. It is not appropriate for another person to interrupt a therapy session • Play therapy can be noisy and messy – some schools find it difficult to cope with this • It can be difficult for staff to understand why the play therapist can accept some referrals but not others • When play therapy is first provided, there is a temptation to refer only those children with entrenched problems and those without appropriate support systems, rather than those who are most likely to benefit most from school-based services

• The therapist is available to explain the specific needs of children under stress

• Children with trauma histories may be better served by accessing therapy outside school hours so that their immediate needs for emotional support can be provided by their primary carers

• The therapist can provide support and advice and can provide training to promote understanding of how play therapy works and the rules that govern its provision in schools

• Therapists who are part of the statutory services, and associated multi-disciplinary teams, may be better placed to meet the broader needs of children whose safety and welfare are seriously compromised

• The school can utilize the therapist to provide services for parents to better enable them to meet the needs of their children.

• If a child/young person has an emotional session they may find it difficult to engage in academic learning immediately following their session • Sometimes there can be difficulties with providing sessions of appropriate duration as some schools try to fit sessions into shorter slots rather than the traditional hour.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


School-based Play Therapy in Ireland continued


About the Author

Prendiville, E. (2013). Abreaction. In C.

Eileen Prendiville is the Course Director

Schaefer & A. Drewes (Eds) The therapeutic powers of play: 20 core agents of change. (2nd ed., pp. 89-109) New York, NY: Wiley.

for the MA in Humanistic & Integrative

Schaefer, C.E., & Drewes, A.A. (2011) ‘The Therapeutic Powers of Play and Play Therapy’. In C. E. Schaefer (Ed.), Foundations of play therapy (2nd ed. pp. 15-25). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

and the Diploma in Child Psychotherapy

Vygotsky, L. (1976) ‘Play and its role in the mental development of the child’. In J.Bruner, A.Jolly, & K. Sylva (eds.) Play: Its

field of play therapy training. She is

role in development and evolution. New York:

Chairperson of the Irish Association of

Basic Books (Original work published 1933,

Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy and Play Therapy, the Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy & Play Therapy, at the Children’s Therapy Centre in Co Westmeath. Eileen has worked with children for over thirtyfive years and now specialises in the a




supervisor and teacher. She is the current

Soviet Psychology, 5, 6-18)

Further information Further information on the Children’s Therapy Centre is available at: Contact the centre at: CLICK to LINK

The Children’s Therapy Centre


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Psychometric Testing update Certification of competence in psychometric testing: An update and clarification from the Psychological Society of Ireland

I am grateful to have been invited to address some

to BPS certification, not least because the BPS does

issues of relevance and concern to guidance

not have formal jurisdiction in Ireland and so its ability

counsellors, regarding competence in psychometric

to meaningfully ‘regulate’ practice is limited.

testing and to set out the current and future work of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) in this

The PSI Register of Guidance Counsellors


Many guidance counsellors will already be aware that, since 2004, following an agreement between

Why the need to certify competence in psychometric testing?

representatives of five Initial Training Courses in Guidance, PSI has held a Register of Guidance Counsellors and has issued registered guidance

It is now widely accepted that psychological testing

counsellors with a Certificate of Competence in

is an important skill and must be carried out in a

the administration and interpretation of specified

manner which is seen to be safe and effective for the

psychometric tests. It is fair to say that, to date, this

service user. Since joining PSI in 2012, I have been

Register has had limited traction and PSI is considering

aware of a growing desire among statutory bodies

changes to the present system to benefit registrants

for an Irish register of competence in psychological

and to promote greater uptake (see below).

testing. The emerging consensus is that certification is not only good for the service user but, through

I am aware that there has been some misunderstanding

recognition of a test user’s competence, a code of

of the relationship of the Register of Guidance

conduct, ongoing CPD and registration, it is also

Counsellors to other registers of test competence,

good for the professional delivering the service.

most notably concerning eligibility of registrants for certification at European Federation of Psychologists’

Internationally, psychological testing is certified

Associations (EFPA) Level 1/2. It is important to note

by psychological professional bodies. The PSI

that, under current arrangements, membership of

does not currently operate a full register of test

the PSI Register of Guidance Counsellors does NOT

competence in Ireland and individuals wishing to

automatically allow registrants to be certified as Level

certify their competence have done so through the

1/2 competent.

British Psychological Society’s (BPS) register based on Level A or A/B training. I am aware that some

New developments

guidance counsellors in Ireland have undergone this

In response to such limitations, and to the demand

training and, although valuable, there are limitations

for formal registration of test competence, during the


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Psychometic Testing update continued

coming months PSI plans to open a new Register

• greater emphasis on maintenance of registration

of Competence in Psychological Testing to include

through continuing professional development

psychologists and allied professionals. It is proposed

(CPD), including access to relevant PSI CPD

that those currently on the Register of Guidance

events at member rates.

Counsellors will automatically migrate onto a special sector of a new Register specifically for guidance

I hope these new developments will encourage

counsellors. Thereafter, guidance counsellors would

guidance counsellors to recognise the professional

be admitted directly onto the new PSI Register.

benefits of belonging to an Irish register which

Naturally, PSI recognises the need to consult fully

formally recognises their training and expertise

with the DES, NCGE, the IGC and other stakeholder

in psychological testing, and the assurance that

bodies in proposing these developments.

this recognition will offer to the public and other stakeholders.

In the interim, PSI plans to relaunch and recruit to the register of guidance counsellors over the coming months, until the opening of the new PSI Register

Dr Gerry Mulhern Managing Director

of Competence in Psychological Testing. The re-

Psychological Society of Ireland

launch will include:

• a modified fee structure based on a lower scrutiny fee and a small annual maintenance fee; • extended criteria for entry to facilitate those not covered by the current agreement (e.g. those with relevant qualifications pre-1999 and individuals with other qualifications, such as BPS Level A or A/B);



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Recognition of Irish Student’s qualifications in Europe Have you ever had to assess the qualifications presented by an overseas student joining your school? Or have you ever had to support one of your students in getting their Irish qualifications understood and recognised in other countries? Qualifications Recognition at Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is here to support you to help them…

Trying to provide help and support to students

The development and implementation of the

who are trying to communicate the value of their

NFQ is overseen by QQI; an important impetus

qualifications and to have them recognised fairly can

for its development being individual mobility and

be difficult. The unprecedented level of immigration

the portability of one’s learning. While the NFQ

experienced in Ireland from the mid-90s and more

is designed to put the learner at the centre of the

recently, an increasing level of emigration has brought

education and training system in Ireland, it does

the recognition of both completed qualifications and

have an international dimension which can help you

periods of learning into focus in schools. Qualifications

in the following scenarios:

Recognition at Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is here to support you to help them; we provide a

Take firstly the example of a student abroad wishing

range of supports and services designed to overcome

to re-locate to your school. Do they have a completed

many of the obstacles students experience in having

school qualification already?

their learning and qualifications recognised.

It is typical across education systems to have a lower second level qualification like the Irish Junior Certificate.

Qualifications Recognition at QQI provides academic

Qualifications Recognition can help - our information

recognition of completed foreign qualifications in Ireland

service aims to compare a foreign qualification to a

and promotes the recognition of Irish qualifications

qualification that is included at a particular level on the

abroad. To this end, Qualifications Recognition acts

NFQ. This service is free of charge and an application

as the Irish ENIC-NARIC centre (European Network of

form and further details is available on

Information Centres/National Academic Recognition The advice provided places

Information Centres) within a Network of such centres

the foreign qualification in the context of the

around the world sharing information on education

Irish education and training system, thereby facilitating

systems and qualifications. Qualifications Recognition

a decision on the fair placement of the student in your

uses the Irish National Framework of Qualifications


(NFQ) as a basis for its work.



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Recognition of Irish Student’s qualifications in Europe continued

Next, take the example of your student moving

available in Table 1.2. In particular, to aid in moving schools, students may benefit from completing a Europass CV and Language Passport to help communicate their learning.

abroad. Here, information on the Irish education system and qualifications is important. Again,


Recognition can help. Qualifications in the NFQ are quality assured meaning that they are recognised at home and abroad. To promote recognition of our qualifications, we have published a leaflet entitled Travelling with your Irish to Qualification with practical information and CLICK LINK advice on travelling abroad with an Irish qualification, whether for work or for further study. In addition, a Country Education Profile for Ireland has been developed that can support you in providing relevant information on our school qualifications to schools abroad. QQI is also home to the National Europass Centre (NEC) which is responsible for the promotion of the Europass initiative in Ireland. Information on the Europass portfolio of 5 documents is

The recognition of qualifications across borders is facilitated by overarching Qualifications Frameworks, which enable national frameworks to ‘talk’ to each other and are essentially translation mechanisms. The Irish NFQ was verified compatible with the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area or ‘Bologna’ Framework in November 2006 and referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) in June 2009. The EQF in particular as a Framework for Lifelong Learning makes it easier to compare school, further and higher qualifications across Europe.

Table 1.1 The major awards of the NFQ, with their corresponding Bologna cycle and EQF level EQF Level

EHEA Framework (Bologna)

Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Level

NFQ Major Award-Types

NFQ Level 1

Level 1 Certificate

NFQ Level 2

Level 2 Certificate

EQF Level 2

NFQ Level 3

Level 3 Certificate; Junior Certificate

EQF Level 3

NFQ Level 4

Level 4 Certificate; Leaving Certificate

EQF Level 4

NFQ Level 5

Level 5 Certificate; Leaving Certificate

EQF Level 5

NFQ Level 6

Advanced Certificate

EQF Level 1

Short Cycle within First Cycle EQF Level 6

First Cycle

Higher Certificate NFQ Level 7

Ordinary Bachelor Degree

NFQ Level 8

Honours Bachelor Degree; Higher Diploma

EQF Level 7

Second Cycle

NFQ Level 9

Masters Degree; Post-Graduate Diploma

EQF Level 8

Third Cycle

NFQ Level 10

Doctoral Degree; Higher Doctorate


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Recognition of Irish Student’s qualifications in Europe continued

So, for example, our Junior Certificate is placed at

NFQ Level 3 and referenced to EQF Level 2. If you

Travelling abroad for work or study?

are presented with a qualification from abroad with a particular EQF level, you can use the table above to ‘translate’ this information into a level on the NFQ, thereby giving you a starting point for recognition. The referencing of the NFQ to these overarching Qualifications Frameworks as well as QQI’s engagement with other international developmental work, and the provision of qualifications recognition services, benefits learners travelling to Ireland with qualifications gained outside the State and learners with national qualifications wishing to travel

Show what you know with your


• Helps you keep a record of your skills, qualifications and achievements safely up to date on-line

You are possibly more likely to be challenged

• Helps employers understand your abilities and experience

European Skills Passport!

with recognition of periods of learning rather than

Irish National Europass Centre Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) e: w:

completed qualifications. If this is the case, a review of curriculum is required. While this is a task for the school, it is worth bearing in mind The Convention

All of the Europass documents are available at

on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, 1997 or Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC). The LRC, ratified by Ireland in 2004 and signed by most EU member states and a number of nonmembers provides the legal basis for the academic recognition of qualifications and periods of learning in signatory states. The LRC tries to capture the spirit of fairness and open-mindedness within


About the Author Niamh Lenehan works in the Qualifications Recognition unit at QQI and is responsible for leading work of the Irish ENIC-NARIC centre and supporting ongoing development of the NFQ.

which recognition should take place. The text of the Convention in addition to subsidiary texts (related to practical implementation) is available on


the website of the ENIC-NARIC Network – CLICK to LINK

Qualifications can Cross Boundaries.

The Qualifications Recognition team welcomes any

A rough Guide to Comparing Qualifications in the UK and Ireland

queries you may have through the ‘Contact Us’ page on



Europass: QQI: Qualrec:



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

Recognition of Irish Student’s qualifications in Europe continued

Table 1.2. Europass The European Skills Passport helps your student/client keep a record of skills, qualifications and achievements safely, up-to-date on-line. It consists of 5 standardised, electronic documents, these are:


The Europass CV - is a standard CV format, used across Europe, which lets you outline your qualifications and skills in a straightforward and easily understood way. It provides a methodology for maintaining an up to date record of your achievements and progress. The Europass CV is promoted with employers across Europe. The Europass Language Passport is the ideal accompaniment to any job application that needs evidence of your language aptitudes. It is also helpful to review your language skills, see what you can build on in further study and track your progress. The Mobility Document is a personal document which is used to record an organised period of time (a mobility experience) that a person spends in another European country for the purpose of learning or training. The Europass Mobility document is completed by the home and host organisations. It contains information about you, the purpose and duration of the mobility experience, the training and skills acquired abroad etc. If you are going abroad for learning or training, including as part of your work, ask your home organisation to contact the National Europass Centre- this will help you get formal acknowledgement of what you are achieving. The Certificate Supplement is provided by a vocational education and training awarding body to help explain what the award is about. Currently the Advanced Certificate Craft Certificate Supplement is available to download from QQI at Over 2013-4 an increased range of Certificate Supplements will become available to download. The Diploma Supplement is issued to graduates of higher education institutions, along with the parchment and transcript of results. It is produced by the higher education institution. It provides additional information about degrees: skills and competences acquired, framework level, entry requirements and access opportunities to the next level of education etc. This makes your qualification more easily understood, especially for employers and institutions outside the issuing country. The Europass Diploma Supplement was developed jointly by UNESCO and the Council of Europe. This year the National Europass Centre will be promoting the Europass Skills Passport specifically with young people in transition year and senior cycle of schools. Completion of the electronic templates is a great way to open conversations with young people about what they do know and have already achieved. It can also raise awareness of how much we learn from life experiences and ‘turns on our lifelong learning buttons’.

Watch our Facebook page, and encourage your TY students to enter our autumn competitions. CLICK to LINK


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Post Primary

School Guidance Handbook

School Guidance Handbook

Lámhleabhar Scoile um Threoir

The School Guidance Handbook (SGH) is an online Handbook,





and schools, which supports the delivery of the school guidance programme. The School Guidance Handbook can be accessed from or via CLICK to LINK the NCGE website The SGH contains a number of features. • Content is available in different formats e.g. PDF, multimedia. • Content can be downloaded and printed (as appropriate). • Content can be shared with others by clicking on the ‘share’ button. • Content can be bookmarked by clicking on the ‘bookmark’ button. • Email notifications will be sent to registered users once new content is uploaded. • Feedback regarding content can be sent to NCGE by clicking on the ‘feedback’ link. • Those interested in submitting content for the Handbook can submit content via the online Handbook. Guidance counsellors interested in submitting content for the Handbook should click on the ‘like to contribute’ button on the SGH homepage and follow the

Linda Darbey launches the School Guidance Handbook at the Higher Options conference in September.

guidelines provided.

Whole School Guidance Planning

NCGE is looking for expressions of interest from guidance counsellors who would like to avail of support in school guidance planning. This support will be offered as a series of once off workshops/seminars which will be face-to-face and/or online. Guidance counsellors interested in attending such workshops/seminars should email Linda Darbey at highlighting specific areas of interest.



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Higher Education

Career adaptability and skills supply: rethinking conventional work-life patterns Across Europe there is an urgent imperative to secure an appropriate balance between providing careers counselling services to all - avoiding ‘marginalising the mainstream’ - and targeting intensive services to those who need them most. New career policies, research and practice are unfolding at a rapid pace. The volatility of the labour market internationally is forcing a rethink of conventional work-life patterns. Numbers of alternative and flexible work patterns are increasing. The financial crisis precipitated in 2008 shook many of our basic assumptions about how the economy works and the purpose and conduct of organisations. Complex forces, outwith the control of individuals, are acting on the types of employment available, which in turn, influences the kind of work people aspire towards, and where they hope to work. A contemporary interpretation of the eternal and internal drivers of how learning and work opportunities contribute to an individual’s sense of self and social value require us to look afresh at career adaptability, skills supply and the society in which we live.

“Career counselling plays a mediating role between supply of, and demand for, labour.”

There is a renewed policy focus

thinking on this topic and a practical assessment tool

on the need for increased

for measuring career adaptability. The assessment

jobs, economic growth and

tool derives from the Career Adapt-Abilities Scale

productivity, set alongside

(CAAS), designed for use in the USA and twelve other

the need to develop the skills

countries (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012).

and capabilities of people. In this context, the dual concepts

From 2008 onwards, a team of international

of career adaptability and skills

researchers, under the leadership of Professor Mark

supply characterise a dynamic iterative relationship

Savickas (USA), conducted a 13 country study to

between the individual and fast changing labour

validate the instrument in differing international

markets. Career counselling plays a mediating role

contexts (Savickas, 2009). In the UK, the University

between supply of, and demand for, labour. This

of Warwick, under the direction of Professor Jenny

article focuses on recent developments associated

Bimrose, enriched the quantitative assessment of

with ‘career adaptability’, grounded primarily in career

career adaptability by identifying descriptors based

construction theory (Savickas, 2013). It draws upon

on mid-career case studies (Bimrose, Brown, Barnes

findings from an international group of researchers

& Hughes, 2011; Brown, A., Bimrose, J., Barnes, S-A. and Hughes, D. 2012; McMahon, Watson and

who have worked closely to develop both critical


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Higher Education

Career adaptability and skills supply continued

Bimrose, 2012). Given career counselling provision is located within and across a wide range of sectors - for example: schools, vocational education and training, higher education, adult education, and employment - a step-by-step approach has been adopted in the UK, beginning with testing out the efficacy of the assessment tool in a higher education context (Frigerio, 2013). Career adaptability involves ‘the capability of an individual to make a series of successful transitions where the labour market, organisation of work

personality characteristics related to adaptability (like

and underlying occupational and organisational

being proactive or flexible), which can be regarded

knowledge bases may be subject to considerable

as pre-requisites of adaptive behaviour, alongside

change’ (Bimrose et al, 2011). Using this definition,

the psycho-social self-regulatory competencies that

it is possible to focus on the practical implications

shape career adaptive strategies and behaviours

of career adaptability, alongside the drivers for its

within work. New conceptions of work-life must

development at the level of the individual.

recognise that career belongs to the person, not the organisation (Duarte, 2004). This is entirely consistent

Work is underway to validate the questionnaire in

with the professional values of career counselling

the UK higher education context. Frigerio (2013)

practitioners, given their primary focus on the needs

reports positive progress being made in engaging

of clients. Career adaptability is thus perceived as

higher education careers practitioners with piloting

‘a more person-centred interpretation of sustainable

activities. She argues for a shift from the narrow

employability, and therefore more useful for those

confines of employability which can ‘often be subject

delivering client centred services.’ (p.8)

to some slippery usage in higher education’ towards a more psycho-social and person-centred approach. A


psycho-social perspective looks at the psychological

dimensions i.e. adapt-abilities competences) which adaptable individuals develop and manifest.







environment. This approach distinguishes between






(psycho-social and resilient

Table 1: Career Adaptability Dimensions (Savickas, 2013: 158) Adaptability dimension

Attitudes and beliefs


Coping behaviours

Career ‘problem’




Aware Involved Preparing




Decision making

Assertive Disciplined Wilful





Experimenting Risk taking Inquiring




Problem solving

Persistent Striving Industrious



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Higher Education

Career adaptability and skills supply continued

located. This includes elements of ‘disequilibrium’, possibly caused by: occupational traumas (such as redundancy); employment transitions (such as job change); and developmental tasks (such as the need to up-skill or re-skill). Career adaptability is closely linked to identity development (Ibarra, 2012) which requires a willingness to engage in one’s own state of readiness to adapt and be resilient as they engage with the labour market. Early lessons learned from the research and piloting of the assessment tool indicate: • The design and development of careers support services, both within and outside of the workplace, must take full account of individuals’ ‘state of readiness’ to manage and implement effective decision-making in relation to learning and work. Concern refers to stimulating or developing a positive

• The focus on formal qualifications as a ‘proxy’ for

and optimistic attitude to the future (Savickas et al.,

learning and development does not do justice to

2009, p.245). Control is linked to the strategies that individuals employ to influence different settings.

the range, depth and variety of different forms of

Research indicates how individuals need to feel in

to be done to develop the acquisition of career

control of their lives to adapt their careers (Blustein

adaptive competencies.

learning-while-working. More creative work needs

et al., 2008; Duffy, 2010) and that individuals with

• The

a clear sense of control engage more in career





individuals’ learning and work destinations must

exploration activities, take responsibility for their

operate beyond a one-off ‘snapshot approach’ in

career development and are more decisive in terms

order to build and extend the body of knowledge

of their career (Luzzo and Ward, 1995). Curiosity

of individuals’ career trajectories and career

emphasises the value in broadening horizons by

adaptability competencies.

exploring social opportunities and possibilities. Confidence and believing in yourself and your ability

• The





to achieve what is necessary to achieve your career

competencies can be achieved retrospectively

goal has a direct impact on the development of the capability for autonomous action.

with adults, using the framework of qualitative descriptors (Bimrose, Barnes, Brown & Hughes, 2011; McMahon, Watson & Bimrose, 2012) as

“Career adaptability is closely linked to identity development”

From a skills development perspective, taking a psycho-

well as prospectively with younger clients. A key challenge is how best to inform and support

social approach is helpful since




individuals to invest time and effort in honing their


career adaptability competences. Those working

need for individuals to selfregulate


in the careers sector have a unique opportunity to


gather more compelling evidence on how career

change that has impacts on the

adaptability helps stimulate improved skills supply.

social context in which they are


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Higher Education

Career adaptability and skills supply continued

References Full references to this article are available here


The Authors Dr Deirdre Hughes, OBE Deirdre is a Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment & Skills and Chair of the National Careers Council in England. In 2012, she received the prestigious award of Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her services to career guidance. She is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Employment Research (IER), Warwick University and an Associate at the Centre for Educational Sociology, Edinburgh University. She leads DMH & Associates Ltd. providing careers policy, research and practice training and development services at a local, regional, national, EU and international level. Email: Tel: +44 (0) 7533 545057


Professor Jenny Bimrose Jenny is lead director of the UK research team investigating career adaptability. With over thirty years’ experience in higher education, researching and teaching at post-graduate level, Jenny has extensive experience of external project management and consultancy, both in the UK and Europe. She is currently co-Editor for the British Journal for Guidance and Counselling. Jenny is a Fellow of the UK Career Development Institute, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Research Associate at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. She was a member of the Career Profession Task Force, convened by Government (2010-2012) and lead manager for an ESRC seminar series on the careers profession (2010 - 2012). Email: Tel: +44 (0) 2476524231 See also:



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Personal and Professional Resilience Support for Guidance Counsellors Resilience: ‘The capacity of the professional to manage the challenges of working in a high demand environment without enduring undue negative impact on their health and wellbeing or their ability to carry out their duties and responsibilities in accordance with best practice in their chosen profession.’ - A working definition for the purpose of this article

in terms of listening empathically and responding sensitively and supportively to the diverse and professions often referred to as the Caring Professions. challenging needs of clients. Sometimes focusing on Caring Professions could easily be defined as those helping others encourages a denial of self-attention, involving professionals that work with the vulnerable and there is a risk of becoming more sensitive in society. This broad definition brings a to other people’s needs and signs of distress greater understanding of the common Sometimes than our own. focusing on factors that lead to the personal and Guidance counselling is part of a larger group of

helping others professional challenges of working Sometimes the constant demand to attend encourages a denial within a caring profession. Guidance of self-attention to the needs of others leads to a loss of counsellors may have a well defined job attention to the needs of the guidance description in terms of their role in the counsellor. Over time this lack of self attention educational, vocational and personal/social leads to a pattern of behaviour where the guidance development of their clients, but in practice they counsellor stops resourcing their personal needs face clients who may present with a complex history in favour of the needs of the client and ultimately of mental, physical or financial vulnerability. Although impacts on the health and well-being of the guidance these complex vulnerabilities are not the focus of the counsellor and their ability to be engaged in the guidance counselling relationship, they vicariously guidance relationship. This inability to engage can become part of the therapeutic relationship that exists further impact on the guidance counsellor resulting in between all caring professionals and their clients. a loss of interest or value in their work. This can lead These vicarious demands can have a huge impact on into a further negative spiral that often concludes in the resilience of the guidance counsellor, which may some form of ‘Burnout’. lead to an increasingly negative impact on the health and well-being of the guidance counsellor over time. Burnout can be defined as a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal challenges of the job often characterised by regular

Caring professions often attract a certain type of individual who is drawn to work that is both rewarding on a personal and professional basis whilst being of ‘high value’ to society. The role of guidance counsellor can demand a lot of energy

feelings of fatigue/exhaustion disengagement (depersonalisation) and diminished feelings of self efficacy in the workplace.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Personal and Professional Resilience continued

The most effective way to intervene in this negative cycle is to develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Self-awareness requires paying attention to your own needs despite the external demands of working in a caring profession. Without this awareness we are unable to attend to our needs and thus build our resilience. Self-attention






recharging your own battery of personal energy, this selfmonitoring ideally occurs at a cognitive, physiological and behavioural level. With self-awareness we begin to notice our patterns of response to the challenges we face. Humans have only one system to respond to challenge and it is called the stress response. Stress is a subjective experience, it is the perception of a threat to ones physical or psychological wellbeing coupled with a perceived inability to cope with the threat. The key word here is ‘perception’, while you may be unable to alter the situation causing the stress you can change the perception of the stress and chose a more effective response.

Common signs of stress/distress: Physical




Sleep onset insomnia




Early waking insomnia






Loss of creativity

Reduced productivity



Low self-esteem

Interpersonal Conflicts



Loss of boundaries


Clenched teeth


Worry about clients

Over eating

Indigestion/weight change


Feeling trapped


Loss of Libido

Alcohol abuse

Constipation Fatigue


Blood pressure

Not asking for help







and the communication of safety. It is the loss of

activated the release of stress hormones begins

these essential components of the relationship that

to disproportionately impact on the most complex

undermines the trust that is essential to the work of

structures in the human brain. These structures

the guidance counsellor. When a guidance counsellor

are essential for critical aspects of the guidance

is stressed they are neurologically less available to

counselling relationship such as empathy, compassion

empathetic relationships.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Personal and Professional Resilience continued

10 Simple ways to build Resilience

7. Access any available support at least on a monthly basis whether a supervisor, supportive colleague, or professional service (such as the supervision encouraged and funded by the Department of Education and Skills for adult and school guidance counsellors in Ireland). Caring professionals are often the last to ask for help. Don’t wait until you need it. Make it part of your reflective practice to seek support to be better at something you are already good at.

1. Commit to doing something for yourself everyday (10 mins only) that you enjoy. Maybe exercise, walking in nature, reading, dancing etc you will know what works best for you! 2. Develop a personal practice of relaxation or meditation. Practice it daily or for at least 60 minutes per week (3*20 minutes is a minimum for lasting impact) to CLICK LINK international

8. Tell someone you care about that you care about them. Appreciation is a neurological gift, it makes us feel better and impacts on how the compassion centre (prefrontal Cortex) in our brain works.

3. Keep a diary of how you feel physically and emotionally at work and at home. Pay particular attention to when you feel tired, fatigued or stressed. Don’t forget to notice when you feel positive and energised. Notice what you were doing before you felt either positive or negative. Keep the diary for a month then read it back and notice your patterns.

9. Eat healthy food - we all know what that means - if you don’t, see the following link and get busy http://www.hsph.

10. If you can’t introduce 4 of these simple options go to number 1 and try that until you want more. If you already do 4 or more of these or similar, well done and keep going.

4. Make contact with a friend or loved one (non work individual) and spend one hour per week where you do not talk about work. If an hour is too much do 30 mins.

Herbert Benson a cardiologist in the Harvard Medical School demonstrated that we could exercise conscious control over our physiological functions with a counterbalancing mechanism to the stress response known as the ‘relaxation response’. The relaxation response is a natural restorative and regenerative phenomenon, which activates the parasympathetic system regulating the effects of the stress hormone. This physiological response is associated with positive mental, emotional and behavioural changes. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest and relaxation, of letting go of unconscious muscle tension and troublesome thoughts and feelings. The main difference between these two responses is that the stress response is

5. Your work is challenging and very difficult at times. Accepting this can be a relief and reduce the shame and guilt that we can feel when work is tough. If you feel disenchanted with work allow yourself some compassion. Keep a list of things that you love about your work or remind yourself of the times that make all the hard work worthwhile. 6. Exercise more often. Physical exercise burns up the chemicals of the ‘fight or flight’ response. It produces chemicals that make the complex parts of our brain work better and therefore impacts on our ability to have greater capacity for work. Exercise opens up a free pharmacy in your brain with nothing but positive chemicals with no side effects. If you don’t believe it then start some exercise and see if it works. (please note always consult your doctor before engaging on an exercise programme you may be putting them out of a job!)


involuntary and triggered automatically, where as the relaxation response requires conscious elicitation and practice. Relaxation is conducive to the guidance counselling relationship but stress has an inhibitory effect on the relationship.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Personal and Professional Resilience continued

Stress management basically involves four key approaches: changing the situation or demands being placed on you; changing your interpretation of the demands being placed on you; practicing skills that increase the capability to cope with the situation (resilience); altering the symptoms of stress by means of relaxation and self care skills. The relaxation response can be elicited by a number of techniques and with practice you can develop an enhanced ability to relax and deal with stress more effectively. In the challenging role of guidance counsellor,

About the Author

balancing self-care and other-care is often a struggle

Ray McKiernan is a Senior Stress

and where ignored can lead to burnout. Selfawareness is key to building resilience and essential to the health and wellbeing of the guidance counsellor. The self-awareness of the guidance counsellor also

Management Consultant, an Organisational Training Specialist, Lecturer and a Director of the Stress Management Institute of Ireland. Having completed his clinical training in MindBody Medicine at Harvard Medical School, he became certified as a Stress & Wellness Consultant with the internationally renowned Hans Selye Foundation in Canada, and is a fellow of the American Institute of Stress. CLICK to

significantly influences the self-awareness of the client. By becoming more self-aware the guidance counsellor will develop an enhanced ability to set better limits and professional boundaries in dealings with clients. By adopting a holistic lifestyle approach to managing stress which encompasses good nutrition and diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, social support



and relaxation we can reduce the harmful effects of stress. Self-care is an essential component of resilience and central to this is the concept of selfawareness. By focusing on self-awareness and selfcare you can increase your personal resilience, which

Please see our review of Superbetter smart phone app on page 42

in turn positively impacts on your ability to continue


to be effective in your role as a guidance counsellor.

References Felton, J.S. Burnout as a clinical entity – its importance in health care workers. Occup Med. Vol 48, No. 4 Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Rothschild, Barbara. Understanding the Dangers of Empathy. Psychotherapy Networker: July/August 2002 Schore, Dr. Allan N. The articles of Dr. Allan N. Schore University of Pennsylvania . Authentic Happiness



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Learner Ambassadors form part of the New European Agenda for Adult Learning The European Agenda for Adult Learning (2012 – 2014) encourages participating countries to promote adult learning, in particular offering lower qualified adults a ‘second chance’ to go ‘one step up’ in their qualification level. In Ireland, the European Agenda for Adult Learning is being coordinated by the Department of Education and Skills through three projects that together will serve to increase awareness of adult learning at both national and local levels.

These projects are: 1. One Step Up - A new website

As you know, sometimes people are not able to see the benefits to returning to learning. They may have had a negative experience of school in the past and associate returning to learning with that experience. There is also a stigma attached to low literacy and basic skills. Often people feel too embarrassed to return to learning and go to great extremes to hide


2. Learner Ambassadors 3. Encourage a Learner – a leaflet campaign. The Learner Ambassador project will be of interest to

their difficulties from their friends and family. However,

the guidance community as it aims to recruit and train

this does not have to be the case. Adult education is

40 Learner Ambassadors from a variety of education settings in Ireland. Indeed, you may know a Learner that you would like to put forward for the project.

a very different experience to school. Adult learning is all about addressing the needs of the learner, working at a pace that suits them and according to their needs and interests.

What is a Learner Ambassador?

Learners are vital in bringing to life the benefits of returning to education and by becoming Ambassadors they have a unique ability to motivate others, in a similar position, to do the same.

A Learner Ambassador is a student who shares their story about the benefits of returning to education with people in their community and by doing so often motivates others to take up a learning opportunity.

How will the project work?

Why are they so important?

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) has responsibility for coordinating this project and they have just started recruiting Learner Ambassadors from a variety of education settings in Ireland.

Who better to encourage others to return to education than those who faced the same challenges and fears themselves? They know the barriers that exist for people but can explain through first-hand experience the enormous gains that can be made to both their confidence and basic skills.

Before each Learner Ambassador gets started they will be invited to attend a day-long briefing


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Learner Ambassadors form part of the New European Agenda for Adult Learning continued

session and workshops about the project. This will be an opportunity to meet and network with other Ambassadors and include brainstorming sessions on

One Learner’s Experience of Guidance that led him to becoming a Learner Ambassador

how best to achieve the aims of the campaign. Each Learner Ambassador will also receive professional presentation skills training on how to promote education within groups, associations or networks they are involved in and at other events. They will also receive guidance awareness training to ensure they refer clients to adult guidance services where and when appropriate.

Without the help of the Guidance Counsellor I would not be where I am today. I dropped out of school when I was 15 as I had no real interest in school at that time. I reluctantly attended “Youthreach” and went on to work in various jobs before becoming a victim of the recession.

Following this each Learner Ambassador will identify and complete at least two presentations in their local community with another Learner Ambassador. And they won’t be alone, at each step of the process there will be a dedicated project coordinator in NALA who will guide the Learner Ambassador through the process and help them complete the presentations.

When I first met the guidance counsellor the idea of returning to education was the last thing on my mind. I was married with a young family and was worried about the future. I did not think that I would be eligible to do courses without my Leaving Cert and was surprised to realise that I could do courses that would put me on the road to a new career path. I had always been interested in working with marginalised young people and felt I had a way with them and an understanding of their needs.

How much will it cost? There will be no cost involved in becoming a Learner Ambassador. Travel, training and expenses will be agreed beforehand with each Learner Ambassador and covered by the project.

What’s the aim of the project? The aim of this project is to motivate and encourage

The guidance counsellor, Bernadette, helped me to look at my interests and abilities as well as my goals for the future. As a result I started with a short “Learning to Learn” class, which gave me the courage and the confidence to study Youth Work at FETAC level 5 in Monaghan Institute. She helped me to look at the skills and personal qualities I already possessed but had taken for granted all my life. My self-confidence and self-esteem grew as I broadened my knowledge and achieved the results that I deserved on my course.

‘hard to reach’ adults, through word of mouth and student testimonials to take up a learning opportunity in Ireland.

Do you know someone who could make a good Learner Ambassador? NALA is now seeking to recruit Learner Ambassadors and would like to have representatives from all corners of Ireland. So if you would like to nominate a student to become a Learner Ambassador NALA would be delighted to hear from you. Just email Margaret at or call 01 4127928 for more information. See




I achieved 9 distinctions and am now in my final year studying a degree in Community Youth Work in Dundalk Institute of Technology DkIT.



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Research NCGE supports evidence based practice and encourages research in guidance in Ireland. To this end we publish this research section to highlight guidance research taking place in Ireland. If you are aware of or taking part in research which may be of value to our readers, please contact us at and your CLICK to piece will be considered for inclusion. LINK

Research on the prevailing inequity of guidance provision in Senior Cycle over Junior Cycle Esther Magera

This article will discuss the findings from a 2012

Senior Cycle is prioritised over Junior Cycle in the

research study carried out as part of the qualification

case school.

of Graduate Diploma in Guidance Counselling, University of Limerick. The study used one sample

This research was set in a context of change and

school and the aim of the study was to establish how


and why guidance provision is prioritised in Senior

as it was carried out immediately following the

Cycle over Junior Cycle in the Irish post-primary

announcement of Budget 2012 measures, which

sector, and the implications for guidance counselling

saw the ex-quota allocation for guidance removed.






While these cuts exacerbated the prioritisation of

The primary research was conducted in a single

literature and research findings already demonstrated

Senior Cycle over Junior Cycle guidance provision, consistent prioritisation of Senior Cycle provision,

midlands co-educational school which had an

despite guidelines which emphasise the need for a

allocation of 1.65 guidance counsellors, in line with

developmental and balanced approach to guidance.

its enrolment numbers. The school employs two guidance counsellors who divided this allocation

Research Findings

equally between them. The research took the form of a case study which used a mixed method approach

The case school demonstrated effective promotion

incorporating both quantitative and qualitative

of the guidance service from early in 1st year and

strategies in the form of questionnaires with a 5.5%

student knowledge of guidance service providers,

sample of the total student body, equally balanced

location and access procedures is strong across all

between all year groups, and semi structured

year groups. However, student knowledge on the

interviews with a guidance counsellor and the

various aspects of the guidance service appears to

Principal. The questionnaire data generated and

be more influenced by service provision than service

facilitated a direct comparison of service promotion

promotion. For example, although all students are

and provision in Junior and Senior Cycle and gave

told about the vocational aspect of the service,

a picture of trends in promotion and knowledge of

awareness of this aspect increased in Senior Cycle,

the guidance service in the case school, as well as

as does the level of provision.

perceived access and balance of provision. The interviews revealed individual perspectives on how

There was a clear year on year downward trend in

guidance provision decisions are made, and why

student perceptions around the balance in guidance


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Research on the prevailing inequity of guidance provision in Senior Cycle over Junior Cycle continued

provision between Junior and Senior Cycle, where counsellor in the case school. They cite time and 60% of 1st year students felt it was balanced and resource restrictions and the multifaceted nature this belief consistently waned to the point where of the Irish guidance service as challenges in this. none of the Senior Cycle students felt provision The OECD (2004) stresses that counselling needs was balanced and that it favoured their cohort. tend to be universally prioritised over educational Those students who felt the service was balanced and vocational needs and that in turn, educational cited reasons based on equality and fairness and it guidance is likely to be prioritised over vocational would appear that the reality of inequity in provision guidance. Findings in the case school mirror this simply became apparent as they progressed and find that guidance delivery is largely reactive, through school. Both the Principal and guidance always prioritising the personal counselling aspect counsellor expressed surprise at the number of of guidance and then responding to the needs Junior Cycle respondents who felt provision of students at decision-making junctures, was balanced, as they both held it to be particularly in relation to subject choices 6th year largely concentrated on Senior Cycle. students are given an for Senior Cycle and third-level course appointment to meet choices and application procedures. Another notable difference in with their Guidance As most educational and vocational service provision between Junior Counsellor.. whereas students in Junior Cycle decisions for students either relate and Senior Cycle is that supports at must self-refer or to Senior Cycle, or occur in Senior Senior Cycle are formalised. 6th year parents must request Cycle, this is a natural focal point of students are given an appointment to a meeting support. This imbalance in provision is meet with their guidance counsellor in not challenged by either management or

relation to vocational and/or educational

the guidance counsellor. In fact the opposite is

development, whereas students in Junior Cycle

true, especially in the face of the Budget 2012 cuts.

must self-refer or parents must request a meeting. The formalised services are also reportedly most widely valued and supported by teaching staff and

Continuing this practice led to an acceptance of the


tendency to prioritise Senior Cycle guidance provision as students, the guidance counsellor and Principal

As it stands, the prospect of developmental vocational

all indicated that students need most support at that

and educational support, involving both Junior

stage. In this way, actual provision came to influence

and Senior Cycles in a balanced way is described

stakeholder’s knowledge and expectations of the

in aspirational terms by the Principal and guidance

service and, in the case of students, influences


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


Research on the prevailing inequity of guidance provision in Senior Cycle over Junior Cycle continued

what they feel is available to them at any given time. This research posits that unless a balanced and developmental guidance programme is formalised as part of a whole school approach to guidance, it is unlikely to become an on-going, integral part of guidance provision.

About the Author Esther a





Diploma with



completed Guidance



Limerick. She is currently working at

Prioritisation decisions within the case school around how much time to allocate to guidance, following Budget 2012, are also influenced by factors which emphasise the product rather than the process

Camphill Communities in Co. Kildare, as Assistant Programme Co-ordinator of the Transitional Training Programme for young adults with special needs.

of education as the Principal feels academic achievement was a weightier factor than the quality of the guidance service in how parents and young people choose a school. The disparity between guidelines which advocate a developmental approach and the general focus on the Leaving Certificate, both within the educational system and outside it, can be difficult to reconcile. However, this research proposes that guidance provision needs to distance itself from the general educational focus on Senior Cycle and view guidance as a developmental process designed to equip students to make independent life choices by facilitating them in their decision-making throughout post-primary education. First year is arguably when students need the most formalised support as they are new to educational and vocational decisionmaking, and to recognising the implications of those decisions. As a result of early and on-going support, Senior Cycle students should begin to tackle choices and decisions independently, with the guidance service as an optional support.

Further Reading Department of Education and Science (DES) (2009) Looking at Guidance: Teaching and Learning in Post-Primary Schools. Dublin: Evaluation Support and Research Unit: Inspectorate Department of Education and Science (DES) (2005) Guidelines for Second Level Schools on the Implications of Section 9 (c) of the Education Act 1998, relating to students’ access to appropriate guidance. Dublin: Stationary Office National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2007) A Curriculum Framework for Guidance in Post-Primary Education. Unpublished, available: guidance/guidance_En.pdf

Strengths and Limitations of the Study The mixed method paradigm allowed for a comprehensive look at all elements of the study and the consistency in findings across a range of


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2004) Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap. Available: CLICK to dataoecd/33/45/34050171.pdf LINK

stakeholder responses gave the study strength in validity. A limitation of the study lies in its scope. It involved a single post-primary school which limits the generalisability of the research findings. The validity of the findings could be improved by conducting further case-studies into the phenomenon of Senior Cycle guidance provision being prioritised over Junior Cycle in various post-primary schools.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


E-Guidance Providing Guidance via Skype Many people today are familiar with Skype. Thanks to technological advances on the internet, people can now see and speak with personal and business contacts using a microphone and web cam on a computer or on another device. News corporations are increasingly using Skype for TV interviews, businesses use it for video conferencing and it costs very little. Seán Ó Briain has been using Skype to provide guidance to students in European schools.


The NCGE service is geared specifically to the needs of Irish students who may be thinking of also

As part of its remit, on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills (DES), NCGE provides a supplementary Guidance service on higher education in Ireland to Irish students who are attending one of the 14 European schools. These schools are based many thousands of kilometres apart in seven countries – namely Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and Luxembourg.

applying to Irish third-level institutions and who have questions regarding general entry requirements, particular course requirements, application procedures and guidelines. The service consists of (a) The provision in electronic format of an NCGE student handbook “Studying In Ireland- Career FAQs for Students of the European Schools” - as a guide on how to research and apply for third level courses in Ireland;

The European Schools are official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union. The mission of the European Schools is to provide a multilingual and multicultural education to students, many of whose parents or guardians are employed by an EU institution. Senior students study for the European Baccalaureate, which is recognised for admission purposes by the Institutes of Higher Education - both here in Ireland and abroad.

(b) Prior e-mail contact between the Irish guidance counsellor and the European School guidance counsellor regarding the students’ individual strengths and areas of study and interest, and any specific questions they may have; (c) In the case of European Schools with larger numbers of Irish pupils, students are visited on

The guidance service provided by NCGE and funded by the DES, is intended to supplement the guidance support already available to students in the European Schools. Many of the European Baccalaureate students apply to third level colleges in their own country of residence or through UCAS

campus by an Irish guidance counsellor. The

in the UK.

the visit;

guidance counsellor generally speaks with each Year 7 (final year) student, and as appropriate, with groups from Year 5 and Year 6. In some cases the guidance counsellor also meets with parents of Year 7 on a designated evening during


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


E-Guidance - Providing Guidance via Skype continued

(d) In the case of European Schools with smaller numbers of Irish students, the e-mail contact referred to in (a) above is followed by a phone call and/or webcam guidance session via Skype with students at a designated time and date. The NCGE engaged my services as a consultant on a temporary basis last November to offer guidance via Skype to Irish students in the European Schools.

Administration and Liaison with Schools The career guidance via Skype was provided from the NCGE’s office in Dublin (see table 1). Skype is a two-way process and one has to acknowledge the great assistance of the liaison teachers (mostly Irish) who established a secure Skype connection abroad and ensured that the students presented

Profile of the Students

themselves on time for the interviews in the

Only three of the twenty students involved in last year’s

European schools. Guidance interviews of about

guidance sessions were born in Ireland. The others were

30 minutes duration were offered to individual

born on the European continent, and had a parent who

students in Year 7 and Year 6. However, where two

was Irish. In many cases their Irish parent had attended

or more students were involved a group interview of

a third level college in Ireland. The students visited

about 40 minutes duration was offered to students

their extended family quite regularly in Ireland and

in Year 6 and Year 5.

were already familiar with some Irish universities. The students were courteous, intelligent and articulate. The majority were highly motivated and well-prepared. They had studied the NCGE handbook prior to the Skype session and had already carried out initial research for themselves on college and course websites, including

Table 1 Please note NCGE does not endorse any particular tools, but rather has provided a small selection of what is available.

Qualifax, Careers Portal and the CAO. Students who

Skype is not the only company to offer video conferencing/calling software, although it is the most well-known and was used on this occasion. Any search of the internet will throw up many such tools. Examples are included below:

had follow-up questions were invited to submit them

Ekiga Google Hang-outs learnmore/hangouts Goober Skype

biomedical science, earth sciences and physics with

via their designated liaison person to the NCGE.

Courses of Interest Many of the students expressed an interest in studying science in Ireland, especially medicine, maths. A smaller number expressed an interest in law, psychology or an arts or business degree with languages. One student had a particular interest in drama and theatre, another in sports coaching and


management. So their interests were quite wideranging and eclectic.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


E-Guidance - Providing Guidance via Skype continued

Technical Issues

period to each individual student during the session proved a more effective and a more successful strategy for this particular guidance counsellor.

A Skype connection is only as good as its weakest link. The Skype connection in the NCGE office in Dublin was strengthened and enhanced by the use of an internet cable (as opposed to wi-fi) and the use of headphones and a microphone by the guidance counsellor. The headphones eliminated any ambient noise, while the microphone ensured better quality, direction and clarity of sound.

Thirdly, experience has shown that Guidance interviews work best when there is a good exchange of information in advance. Preparation is the key – both on the student’s and guidance counsellor’s part. The fact that the schools provided the guidance counsellor with information regarding the students’ course choices in advance was a great assistance to the guidance counsellor in preparing for the individual interviews.

For security reasons the interviews were recorded with the students’ consent. However this meant that all sound and pictures were recorded, so that a large proportion of the computer’s memory was used up quite quickly.

In the same way, students benefitted most from the interviews when they had studied the NCGE’s handbook, had prepared questions and had carried out initial research of their own in advance.

There were occasional dropped calls between the office and one of the European schools, apparently

While no one would appear to question the greater advantages of a personal, face-to-face guidance interview, the guidance sessions via Skype are also proving very worthwhile and effective, particularly where time, distance, cost and limited resources are an issue.

due to the use of wi-fi instead of a cable as an internet connection in the school, but overall, the Skype sessions were very successful and problem-free.

Observations on Guidance via Skype



There are some personal observations I would like

With advances in broadband technology, initial teething problems such as dropped calls or frozen images will soon be eliminated. As young people (and the not so young) continue to embrace mobile technologies, they may soon feel just as comfortable participating in a guidance session via Skype as in a face-to-face interview.

to make about the provision of guidance via Skype. Firstly, providing a service via Skype is not as effective or as personal as a one-to-one or face-to-face interview. It is sometimes hard to gauge reactions or levels of understanding on video, particularly when the picture freezes, sound is lost or there is a time delay. One cannot give supplementary hand-outs or written information with immediate effect, if one is not present in the same room.

Could it be that providing guidance via Skype in the future will prove a bigger challenge for the guidance counsellor than for the students themselves?

However, Skype is far more cost effective than a personal visit to the school, especially where numbers of students are small and there are long distances to travel.

About the Author Seán Ó Briain is a Guidance Counsellor at St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Drogheda. A keen linguist and francophile, he has a great interest in European affairs and developments in education.

Secondly, speaking with three or more Year 5 students as a group in the one Skype session is difficult, particularly when they have their own individual needs, interests and course choices. Allocating a


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013



Euroguidance News

Youth in Action


National Resource Centres were established out of the PETRA programme (12 countries)


Euroguidance Network funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme

Euroguidance Network document developed



ESTIA tool is developedused by Network to guidance on studying and working in Europe


Euroguidance welcomes ten more countries to the Network… and growing!

euroguidance timeline9.indd 1

welcomes ntries to the

Euroguidance Ireland Centre We have recently upgraded our boardroom to enhance the experience of visitors coming to Euroguidance Ireland, with newly designed wall visuals illustrating the history of the Euroguidance Network and its 65 Centre’s across Europe. Euroguidance at NCGE will welcome groups of guidance counsellors to take a tour of the resources and learn more about opportunities available throughout Europe. 2007

Euroguidance Network funded by the Lifelong Learning programme


Euroguidance Ireland goes live on Facebook


2012 Euroguidance Network celebrates it’s birthday. Happy 20th!

Euroguidance Ireland opens its new interactive Centre in NCGE


Network consists of 33 countries and growing!! Welcomes 3 more in 2013.

16/09/2013 16:02

Gerry Flynn, IGC President, draws the winning tickets for the Name the Landmark competition held at Higher Options to promote the Euroguidance facebook page. For more information see our facebook page (https:// 2836361757701&app_data) CLICK to LINK



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


News continued

The Euroguidance Ireland Centre, at NCGE promotes mobility, helping guidance counsellors and individuals to better understand the opportunities available throughout Europe. Euroguidance is following our two bloggers; Seรกn and Claire to France and Germany to see how they get on during their first term abroad! Want to follow Seรกn and Claire on their journey? Just visit our blog page CLICK to LINK

NAVIGUIDE (2011-2013), a European Project in which the Ballymun Job Centre was a partner, developed an online database containing 100 guidance methods to be used in group settings. Earlier this year the Ballymun Job Centre ran 7 one-day workshops throughout Ireland to train those working in the area of guidance in using these methods. For more information and to download these methods go to or contact Julie at the CLICK to Ballymun Job Centre LINK


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Smart-phone app Review

SuperBetter The SuperBetter iphone app is available as a free download from the app store. See SuperBetter is a tool created by game designers (with the help of health professionals) to help build personal resilience. The idea for the app came from Jane McGonigal who is a game designer but who believes that games can be used to help real life situations. With SuperBetter, she (along with others) has created a simple tool that anyone can easily use to achieve mental, physical and emotional well-being.


The app is pre-programmed to come up with useful suggestions for dealing with stress, chronic pain, anxiety, losing weight, and eating healthier, but you can input your own goal. I have used the app with several students in counselling situations and I have found that students really respond to the language and find that it helps them to have a vision of what they can do to help develop their own resilience. I have also used the video of Jane McGonigal with several SPHE classes to encourage them to develop their own resilience. Ultimately, we know that any tool cannot guarantee that anyone using it will get better but it’s a great strategy for achievable success.

We know that resilience has a powerful effect on health - by boosting physical and emotional wellbeing. SuperBetter uses the same language and strategy that game players use to win games and this helps make the tool and exercises easy for many young people to understand. For example, if I wanted to use the app to treat stress, the app will ask me what is my mission (ultimate goal), what power ups can I use (things I can do that help in some small way, who are the bad guys (what are the things that can drain me) and who are my allies (people that can help me). The app has lots of suggestions for these categories and then automatically tracks any progress and sends encouraging messages to keep the user on track.

Jane McGonigal’s inspirational TED talk about the programme can be watched on the TED website here. CLICK to LINK

Catherine Flanagan (H. Dip in SGC 2005) Mount Sackville Secondary School, Dublin 20 See the article Personal and Professional Resilience on page 27.


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Website Review

CV Library CV Library - App available in the UK app store there is also a link on the website which


will bring you to the app store.

What is it? CV-Library is an independent job board and holds (in their own words) “the UK’s fastest growing CV database”. The website is targeted at job seekers and recruiters and advertises around 70,000 jobs in the UK and Northern Ireland. Job seekers can upload their CV for free and search jobs without having to register. The company then makes money by charging recruiters to advertise their jobs and search CVs. At the time of writing this article (August 2013), the website has 6,542,040 CVs on file!

Would you use it as a tool for guidance? I would imagine using this website as a resource about writing CVs and interview tips. It could also be good to have as a link from a website as a useful guide for students. I would definitely use the advice about how to impress on your first day as a guideline for students going on work experience. I also thought that students doing a career investigation could enjoy using the salary calculator to compare industries and different career options. The language used on the website is quite straightforward and should be easy enough for most students to understand. As the website only advertises jobs in the UK and Northern

The website has a huge amount of information and is relatively easy to navigate. The advice for job seekers is excellent. One section of the website is labelled “career centre” and it offers tips on how to write your CV, interview techniques, ‘must dos’ for your first day of work, networking and lots of other really useful advice about training and selecting a job that is right for you. There is also a salary calculator, where you can search various jobs and see what the average salary is a of UK worker. If their free app contains similar information, I would imagine it is even easier to use, but your account has to be registered in the

Ireland, it has a limited benefit for Irish job seekers, unless they are planning to move there. Reviewed by Catherine Flanagan (H. Dip in SGC 2005) Mount Sackville Secondary School, Dublin 20

UK app store, so I was unable to download it.


Would you like to review a smart-phone app/ website or book for NCGE news? If so please contact us at



NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013

Book Review

Life Story Work with Children Who are Fostered or Adopted: Creative Ideas and Activities Katie Wrench and Lesley Naylor Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 112 pages

What is it about?

do not think that we are appropriately placed to do it. Firstly, the amount of background knowledge required would be unrealistic for us to gather. It is the responsibility of the facilitator of the work to gather all details of the child’s prior care placements, know the details of traumas in the child’s life, know details of birth parents, etc.

This book is aimed at social workers, foster carers, adopters, students and any frontline practitioners involved in working with traumatised children. The authors introduce life stage work, describe the optimum conditions for this work to take place, and cover each of the stages. Accompanying each stage description are aims, suggested activities and handy hints.

The authors very much stress both the importance of regular meetings with the child undertaking this work for the length of time needed to complete the work and also emphasise the need to consider what the child is doing later in the day after taking part in this work. As there is no way of knowing at the outset the length of time it would take, the school year would be too restrictive on the work. Also, expecting a child undergoing this work to go back into class would be unrealistic.

The book is easy to read. The description of each stage is clear and shows what difficulties to expect in trying to achieve the aims. There is a nice mix of the authors’ own voice, supported by theory from a wide range of experts in this area. I found the handy hints at the end of each activity most useful. These included ways to adapt the activity; considerations when working with children with specific needs e.g. very anxious children or children from different ethnic backgrounds and ways to link activities between stages.

Lastly, they recommend that carers/adopters sit in on certain pieces of work – if this work were to take place in the school environment then other students would be aware of something more than a ‘career appointment’ going on.

The authors state that the book is for use with children and young people, however, as I read the book, I constantly found the activities more suited to younger children, and at a stretch perhaps 1st Year students. I do not think that any of the activities would engage an older adolescent. Most activities promoted the use of colour, paints, collages, clip art, miniature figures, etc.

I do think that elements of the book could be useful if we wanted to do work on e.g. self-esteem or emotional literacy with junior cycle students. The definitions of these are clear and, for anyone working with students, these are nice starting point exercises. It’s also interesting to know more about a therapeutic tool used by other services.

How could it inform the work of a guidance counsellor?

Kathrina McCarthy Guidance Counsellor Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál Blarney, Co. Cork

While this book is interesting to guidance counsellor’s it is not entirely relevant as, although I do believe that we are well capable of doing this work effectively, I


NCGE NEWS Autumn 2013


News from NCGE NCGE is delighteedw to welcome our nof Management tee Guidance Commit. for 2013-2016

d at the first meeting on Oct 1st

Members of the committee picture

The committee was nominated by the Minister for Education and Skills, and appointed by the Board of Léargas. The first meeting took place on 1st October 2013. Paul King is the Chair of the committee, the members are: Colum Layton, Breda Naughton, Shira Melmann, Jim Mullin, Fidelma Collins, John Wynne, Ursula Finnegan, Gerry Flynn, Peter Brown, Elaine Quinn, Jennifer McKenzie Director NCGE (ex-officio). Further information about the Management of Guidance Committee is available at:

Report on the Review of Guidance in Post-Primary Schools


NCGE has published the Review of Guidance Counselling provision in second level schools, 2012-2013: Report of the findings. This Review was carried out in 2012, on behalf of the DES and NCGE Management of Guidance Committee to establish the changes to provision, if any, following the removal of the ex-quota allocation for Guidance in second level schools and to inform plans for the continued support of guidance provision in schools.

The report details and makes recommendations based on data gathered from guidance counsellors and school principals in second-level schools nationally. Also included are further recommendations from the NCGE Management of Guidance Committee. NCGE wishes to thank the members of the Management of Guidance Committee 2010-2013, under the Chair of Barra Ó Briain, for their support and commitment to this review report.

Review of Guidance Counselling provision in second level schools 2012-2013 Report of the findings


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Download the review: provision_in_second_level_schools_2012-2013.FINAL.pdf

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