OVERVIEW

In Ireland, guidance is provided nationally via state funding and private practice. The delivery, provision and activities of guidance services will vary depending on

  • the relevant policies in place;
  • staff resources available;
  • the client cohort and the age of that client cohort;
  • the institutional setting

In the education and training sector, guidance services can be integrated into and delivered within the overall education / training programme or co-ordinated to ensure provision to a specific education and training programme. More specifically, DES (Irish Department of Education and Skills) funded guidance is provided in Post Primary Schools (for students aged 12 -18 years) and in FET which includes the Adult Educational Guidance Initiative (AEGI), Post Leaving Cert / Colleges of Further Education (PLC/CFE), Youthreach/ Community Training Centres (CTCs) etc. In the Higher Education Sector, the student support services include Careers Offices, Mature Student and Access Offices, International Office and Disability supports. In the Public Employment Sector i.e. through the Irish Department of Employment affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) guidance related services are provided in Intreo offices and by EmployAbility and local employment and job placements services.

The National Centre for Guidance in Education is an agency of the Department of Education and Skills, with responsibility to support and develop guidance practice in all areas of education and to inform the policy of the Department in the field of guidance. NCGE also hosts the Euroguidance Centre Ireland.

For more detailed information please consult: www.ncge.ie and www.euroguidance.ie 

POLICY

In line with a 2007 National Guidance Forum definition:

Guidance facilitates people throughout their lives to manage their own educational, training, occupational, personal, social, and life choices so that they reach their full potential and contribute to the development of a better society.

In Ireland, Lifelong Guidance is provided within education and training, for and with the labour market, and requires delivery approaches that are tailored to the target client group (e.g. students/adult learners etc.). 

The Irish Education Act 1998, section 9(c) includes reference to the provision of guidance in schools in the following sections and subsections:

‘a recognised school shall….use its available resources to….'

  • ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices;
  • promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school.

Section 30 states that:

'The Minister may, from time to time, following such consultation with patrons of schools, national associations of parents, recognised school management organisations and recognised trade unions and staff associations representing teachers, as the Minister considers appropriate, prescribe the curriculum for recognised schools' - namely 

  • the guidance and counselling provision to be offered in schools
  • may give directions to schools, where he or she considers it appropriate, to ensure that the subjects, syllabuses pursued in schools are appropriate and relevant to the educational and vocational needs of the students in those schools

There are a number of key legislation, policy statements, circulars and documents published by the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) and DES which relate directly or indirectly to guidance provision. Some of these are outlined below.

Several EU Council Resolutions, Recommendations and Conclusions include reference to guidance within the wider context of specific education, training and labour market policies. From 2008 – 2015 the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) was funded by the European Commission to bring together EU member States to identify, develop and support the development of guidance policies. Ireland was a full member of the ELGPN from 2011-2015, with NCGE as designated representative for Ireland, actively engaged in the development of overall guidelines, quality assurance and career management skills guidelines.

The NCGE hosts the National Forum on Guidance twice per year to support communication co-operation and collaboration across the various guidance sectors in Irreland

For more visit: https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/policy

SERVICES AND PRACTICE

Primary

There is no formal provision for Guidance in primary schools within the lifelong context, however the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) highlights examples of best practice in guidance, play therapy, coaching and skills programmes for primary education.

The Centre continues to research the level of formal guidance in the primary school system in other EU countries. As part of the primary school curriculum, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the child. 

For more log on to http://www.sphe.ie/ and https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/guidance-primary

Post-primary

Guidance in post-primary schools within the lifelong context is aimed at students from the ages of 12 to 18 and relates to programmes from levels 3 to 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications.  The Guidance programme is provided to both junior and senior cycle students.

Guidance is an entitlement in post-primary schools as per the Education Act (1998) Section 9 which states that a school shall use its available resources to (c) ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices.

Guidance in post-primary schools is a whole school activity that is integrated into all school programmes.  Guidance in schools “refers to a range of learning experiences provided in developmental sequence that assist students to develop self-management skills which will lead to effective choices and decisions about their lives. It encompasses the three separate, but interlinked areas of personal and social development, educational guidance and career guidance.”  

The document Guidelines for Second-Level Schools on the Implications of Section 9(c) of the Education Act 1998, Relating to Students' Access to Appropriate Guidance (DES, 2005),  indicates that a guidance programme should be part of a school plan and identifies the central role of the guidance counsellor as well as the important contribution of different members of staff to the role of guidance. The Whole School Guidance Plan for the school should take account of the needs of all Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate students. Guidance also forms part of the curriculum in the Transition Year Programme (TYP), the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP).

NCGE launched the NCGE ‘Whole School Guidance Framework’. This framework schools in their planning of the guidance programme and outlines the expected guidance related learning outcomes for the students in schools.

For more see: https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/guidance-post-primary

Further Education and Training (FET)

Information and Guidance Services in the Further Education and Training (FET) sector provide impartial careers and education information, one-to-one guidance and group guidance, which help people to make informed educational, career and life choices. FET Information and Guidance Services are provided to adults aged 18 years and over, and those over 16 who have left school early who are interested in or participating in programmes on the National Framework of Qualifications Levels 1 – 6.

Guidance is provided in the FET sector through various services, including FET / Adult Education Guidance Services, Colleges of Further Education / PLC Programmes, Youthreach / CTCs, Training Centres, Adult and Community Education, Youth Information, BTEI and Prison Services.

The delivery of Further Education and Training is the responsibility of the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), funded by SOLAS (the further education and training authority).

Guidance in Further Education and Training is informed by the DES Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019. Section 10 of this Strategy 'Guidance and FET' outlines the strategic vision for FET Information and Guidance provision. 

For more see: https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/guidance-further-education

Higher Education

All Universities and Institutes of Technology (IoTs) have career and counselling services available to students. Career services are based in Career Advisory and Appointments Offices, and counselling services are offered through the Student Counselling Service. The main provision is targeted at final year students and recent graduates, although some career services have started to provide careers education in the curriculum of undergraduate courses. The Careers Advisory/Appointments Office provides information on educational and employment opportunities to students and graduates. Students can meet with a Careers Adviser for educational and career guidance.

The Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) is the representative association for careers advisory and placement professionals in higher education in Ireland. Representatives from AHECS regularly attend The National Forum on Guidance

The Higher Education Authority is the statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research in Ireland. The HEA has wide advisory powers throughout the whole of the third-level education sector and published a National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 in 2011.

For more see: https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/guidance-higher-education

Public Employment Sector

Within the DEASP, the services of the Intreo Case Officer are not specifically referred to as guidance provision, but employment services. The following outlines the 1-1 process: A client of DSP will be invited to attend a Group Information Session first and this is followed with a 1-1 meeting with the Case Officer. Clients are required to sign a Personal Progression Plan form to agree to the activities required in the job search agreed with the Case Officer. An Employment Support Record is created for every person who is activated. The persons Probability of Exit (PEX) profile will determine the frequency of the appointments with the Case Officer. An Activation Review Meeting (ARM) is scheduled within the activation case management system whereby a letter is sent out to the client to invite into a one-to-one meeting with their assigned case officer. The Case Officer discusses a range of options available to the client including referrals to training, community employment schemes, disability services, Job Ireland etc.

TRAINING

Guidance services in the educational sector are based in post-primary schools, higher and further education colleges and through adult and second chance education programmes. To work in guidance in different educational settings, qualifications vary according to the requirements of the role and the employee. The DES Programme recognition framework: Guidance Counselling sets out criteria and guidelines for providers of initial education programmes in guidance counselling who intend that their programme graduates will work in guidance services under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES).

Guidance counsellors working in all educational settings should keep abreast of ongoing changes and developments in fields relevant to guidance such as educational and training opportunities, ICT and the world of work and professions/occupations. Guidance counsellors should also avail of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities as provided by bodies such as the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE), the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) and the Adult Educational Guidance Association of Ireland (AEGAI). In addition, guidance counsellors in the AEGS and schools should avail of guidance counselling supervision, where available.

There are eight areas of competence which should be addressed by programme providers seeking recognition from the DES for their programmes in guidance counselling:

  • Guidance theory and professional practice
  • Counselling skills in a guidance context
  • Labour market, learning and career-related information
  • Teaching and learning: design, delivery and evaluation of programmes/learning experiences
  • Communicating, collaborating and networking
  • Research and evidence-informed practice
  • Leading and managing the guidance service
  • Psychometric testing

At present in Ireland 4 Universities offer 5 Masters/Postgraduate Diploma programmes that are approved by DES.

  • Dublin City University 
  • NUI Maynooth 
  • University College Cork 
  • University of Limerick

In the Public Employment Sector - Currently, DESP provides a “Case officer Learning Path” in conjunction with National Colege of Ireland (NCI). This programme is delivered by NCI, a Certificate in Employability Services (Special Purpose Award at NFQ Level 8). This is a 15 day- attendance programme, with 4 distinct modules. All Case Officers will be required to attend this programme. The programme aims that." Learners will develop advanced case- management skills and be able to critically assess a range of clients. Learners will be skilled in the application of a range of skills to evaluate, motivate, coach, train and counsel, mentor and advise clients". This does not provide guidance training or a “guidance qualification.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Research pertaining to guidance in Ireland is commissioned / undertaken by numerous stakeholders including - NCGE, The Institute of Guidance Counsellors, The Higher Education Authority and guidance counsellor training centres(i.e. universities) Many of these actors collaborate with universities and research institutes in other countries in international research and development projects. The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.

For more details see https://www.ncge.ie/ncge/research.

In 2017 DES issued all schools with a 'Compliance Return Survey', on their use of their allocation of guidance hours in 2016/2017. It is the intention of DES that this will provide the basis for the comparison of allocation of guidance hours with future years.  NCGE is currently working on a Trans National Cooperative Activity for the development of a data -gathering system on and for post primary based guidance provision to include qualitative and quantitative data.

In January 2018 the Irish Minister for Education and Skills announced a review of career guidance in post-primary schools, further education and training centres and higher education institutions. The purpose of the review is to ensure that Ireland provides a high quality, relevant career guidance support service to all students from post –primary level up to further and higher education. A report is to be completed and published by end Quarter 2, 2018

Within Further Education and Training The ETB AEGI services provide reports twice yearly, via NCGE to DES and SOLAS, with the use of the Adult Guidance Management System (AGMS). This online database is managed by NCGE on behalf of DES and SOLAS and provides qualitative and quantitative reports twice per year. The NCGE AEGI AGMS report for 2016 is available via
http://www.ncge.ie/uploads/AEGI_AGMS_Final_report_2016.pdf.

NCGE maintains a School Guidance Handbook (SGH). The SGH is an online resource to support the development and delivery of the school guidance programme. It contains NCGE approved research and resources developed by members of the guidance community nationally and internationally.

In September 2017 The Minister for Education and Skills welcomed the launch of The National Centre for Guidance in Education’s (NCGE) ‘Whole School Guidance Framework’. This document highlights the key role of the guidance counsellor in schools, working with other school staff, in the delivery and planning of guidance to students. A copy of the document was issued to every post-primary school in the country. The Framework was developed over a three year timeframe and was informed by similar frameworks published internationally. It follows a public consultation process from late 2016, ministerial review, and receipt of commentary from other stakeholders including employer organisations. NCGE has invited a number of schools to work with the Centre in implementing the Framework. It is NCGE’s intention to review the Framework after three years, taking account of feedback from schools, so that it is up-to-date, responds to the needs of schools and supports the development of good practice.

ETHICS

Ethical guidelines inform professional conduct for guidance service staff and provide a framework within which guidance counsellors can make appropriate decisions relating to client issues, work practices, and referrals. Ethical practice and professional conduct within a guidance service helps to ensure quality service provision to clients. Professional guidance staff in Ireland who are engaged in the delivery of guidance to clients are encouraged to become a member of a professional organisation. The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) is one such professional body, which currently represents over 1,200 practitioners www.igc.ie. The IGC Code of Ethics covers principles concerning competence, conduct, confidentiality, consent and research.  

http://www.igc.ie/about-us/our-constitution/code-of-ethics

Some managing agencies have developed their own Code of Ethics / Practice for Guidance Counsellors. Where staff is employed by such agencies, they must also remain conscious of such guidelines and address any differences or conflicts which may arise between different Codes of Ethics and/or practice. 

Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance counsellor training offered in Ireland.

Reference nationally is also made to IAEVG Ethical Guidelines.

Last update by Euroguidance Ireland (© January 2018)