Guidance First Year Programme

Each first year student has a guidance book.  The following themes are covered in class weekly, taking one class group each week:

  • Transition into Secondary School
  • Homework and study skills
  • Rate your Learning Outcomes
  • Adapting your learning to suit your style (interactive workshop to include questionnaires)
  • Self-Concept
  • Positive mental health management, Sleep and ‘Mindfullness’
  • Assertiveness, Peer Pressure, Substance Misuse, Smoking, Drugs, Alcohol as part of Peer Ed
  • Bullying, Cyber bullying, petty crime, online safety
  • Motivation and career aspirations (student questionnaires)
  • Subject Choice


Subject Choice First Years

Subject Options give students a ‘taster’ opportunity until they make their choices at the end of the school first midterm.

The Guidance Counsellor assigns two classes to subject choice, to help students in the decision-making process in choosing subjects for their Junior Certificate.   The students are given detailed information regarding core subjects, the importance of minimum subject requirements, (available to download from the school Guidance website) and are asked to discuss the subject options at home with their parents/guardians.  The Guidance Counsellor advises the students that their parent/guardians can contact the Guidance Counsellor if they have any queries about subject choice.  The students fill out the option choice form and number their preferences 1-4.


Guidance Book: Essential Wellbeing

Computer per student in computer room

Presentations by guest speakers


Anxiety Management Strategies for Students

1. Physical Relaxation Exercises
a.  Body focus : Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a few moments. Sense where your body is contacting the environment around you (chair, floor etc.). Sense where your weight is resting. Now take another deep breath and move your body in some way to get more comfortable and relaxed. Are there any parts of your body that feel very tense or sore?  If you find one, take a deep breath and try to imagine that place loosening up. Then gently and slowly move that part of the body just a little bit to let it loosen and relax. 
b.  Deep breathing  Take a slow deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. (Make sure the belly goes out as you inhale). Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth to the following count, 1-2-3-4,   1-2-3-4,   1-2-3-4. Inhale, hold, exhale. Pause before the next breath. Continue this 5-10 times.  
c. Apple picker stretch Imagine your are under the branches of an apple tree.  Standing with both arms up in the air and gently bouncing on tip toes, reach up as high as you can and grab at the imaginary apples with one hand then the other. Then gently drop your hands and bend over towards the floor as far as you can with knees slightly bent.  Then sway gently from side to side for a few moments before slowly rising up,, one vertebra at a time, with the neck and head coming up very last. (Remember to keep breathing).  
d. Progressive Relaxation Starting with your feet and moving slowly and methodically up through your body until you finally get to your neck and head, make all of the muscles in your body really tense and hard.  Count of 10 each time so that at 1 your muscles are a little bit tense, and at 10 you are as tense as you can get. Shake your legs slowly. Shake your arms. Slowly move your head from one side to the other. Feel the tension leave your body. 
2. Visualisation
This activity requires the children to close their eyes and use their imagination as you read them the following script to them:
Now that you are beginning to relax I want to invite you to imagine that you are walking down a soft wide path through a beautiful tropical forest towards the ocean. You can see big bright flowers underneath the trees. The trees are high and green and when you look up you can just see a wonderful blue sky peeking through the leaves. As you walk you feel calm and safe – breathing in and out – calmly and deeply 
Although you can’t see the ocean yet you can hear the waves up ahead – rolling onto the beach – you can smell the ocean spray – the air is moist and warm and you can feel a beautiful cooling breeze on your face. As you continue along the path – breathing in and out – slowly and deeply – you come closer to the sea and you can feel the sand beneath your feet – it’s soft and warm. As you step out of the forest the sun is shining and the sea is blue and glistening. The sound of the waves rolling onto the beach feels comforting and relaxing. And as you look out at the sea you can match your breathing to the pattern of the waves – slowly in and deeply out – languid and calm – relaxed and happy 
You can feel the sun’s warmth filling the whole of your body as you gaze towards the water which is bright and blue and green. The beach is golden, long and wide and there is no-one here but you. This is your beach – your place – your time.
Breathing in filling your body with warmth and relaxation and breathing out – letting go of any stress. As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, lower yourself onto the sand. Sitting here quietly you can watch the waves lapping onto the beach – the water is clear and bright and as you watch you continue to feel the warm relaxing feeling flowing over you – and you feel safe and happy and content. 
There is no-one here but you – this is your beach – this is your place – this is your time. 
Sitting here in the warm, soft sand, soaking up the sunshine you feel strong and calm


The Guidance Counsellor actively supports students in Junior Cycle, both through the teaching of guidance, and through individual and group counselling/psychotherapy sessions.

Counselling/Psychotherapy support is given to those students who require individualised and specialised support.  SEN school-based support is available.  The Guidance Counsellor will make referrals to external specialist services such as; GP, OT, CAHMS, NEPS and Tulsa.  The Guidance Counsellor will liaise with external specialists for feedback concerning students with special needs and mental health issues so that pastoral and SEN support can be available at school by the care team.

Pastoral support is continuously available from; Year Head, Tutor and Care Team.  Every teacher in this school has completed the Tulsa Child Protection training programme and the PDST training programme.  Every teacher is aware of the Children First Act 2015 and the Child Protection Procedures for Post Primary Schools 2017 and their responsibilities as a mandated person.  The Guidance Counsellor has attended on numerous occasions the safeTALK delivered by the HSE (assist with suicide prevention).

Psycho-educational programmes play a huge role in informing and maintaining positive Mental Health and are an integral part of our programmes in SPHE, RSE, Guidance and Peer Ed.

Referral System:  The GC offers one to one counselling to the students.  Staff, students and parents refer students to the counselling service, informally or on a formal referral form.  This form is available in the staff room or upon request.  Students very often self-refer and / or bring up personal issues of concern in a career interview.  The DLP, Parents and relevant TUSLA personnel are informed if the student is deemed to be at ‘at risk’.  The principal as the DLP takes the responsibility to inform the Duty Social Worker for advice or making a referral to outside agencies.    The school adheres to the Child Protection procedures as outlined in the Children’s First.  The work of the GC with students is guided by the IGC’s Code of Ethics.

Appointments:  An ‘open door’ operates for self-referrals or appointments can be made at any time during the school day.  An appointment slip may be given to the class teacher by the student prior to the appointment to reduce disruption.  The class teacher has the right to refuse a student to leave for an appointment.  If a teacher refuses the appointment is rescheduled.  Students often make appointments during lunchtime, break time or after class.  Students are signed out by the subject teacher at the time of the appointment.  Teachers may also refer the students to the guidance counsellor.  The Guidance Counsellor is briefed by the teacher and a plan of action negotiated.

Confidentiality:  A confidentiality contract is made with students at the first counselling session.  The code of confidentiality is explained.  Where a student is in danger of harming another person, in danger of being harmed, or in danger of harming themselves then confidentiality is broken.  In the case of confidence being broken the Guidance Counsellor would report in the first instance to the DLP in the school i.e. the Principal.  Should the situation warrant further action the DLP decides upon the course upon the course of action to take such as contact with TUSLA and parents.

Record-keeping Procedures:  Records of personal counselling and careers/vocational guidance interviews are kept under lock and key.  Student records are kept up to two years after the student leaves the school.  Notes are written up as soon as possible after the session.  Notes are brief as possible and coded for anonymity.