Guidance and Counselling

Holy Family Secondary School

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Holy Family Secondary School is an all-girls Voluntary Catholic school with 720 pupils under the patronage of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. The Guidance Plan for Holy Family Secondary School has been developed in line with our mission statement, the school ethos and the policies framework of Holy Family Secondary School.
The school is committed to being a caring, learning community where each person is valued and accorded respect and dignity. We provide a calm, friendly, disciplined and safe environment and a broad, diverse curriculum to promote the development of the whole person. This enables each person to develop his/her full potential by fostering a positive self-image, a sense of responsibility and personal integrity. The school also promotes respect for the rights and beliefs of others and encourages all to be tolerant, caring and responsible members of society.

The Guidance Plan has been developed in line with our school Mission Statement which states:

We promote the Christian virtues of faith, hope, love, gentleness, respect and tolerance, and we emphasise togetherness and family. Guided by these Christian virtues, and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, it is our mission to provide a safe, caring, inclusive learning environment in which to foster the spiritual, intellectual, academic, aesthetic, physical, emotional and social development of each pupil so that she may fulfil her own unique potential and may leave our school with the capacity and the willingness to contribute to the building of a society characterised by these Christian virtues

Section 9 (c) of the Education Act, 1998 requires Holy Family Secondary School to “ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices” based on the need to provide access as determined by the general resources available and the additional resource allocation for guidance and counselling and other related activities provided by the DES and the need to provide appropriate guidance that is, the whole school’s response to meeting the guidance needs of all of its students.

School Guidance and Counselling is delivered by professionally trained School Guidance Counsellors and Student Support staff.

Definition of Guidance

Guidance in Holy Family Secondary School refers to a range of learning experiences, provided in a developmental sequence, that assist pupils to develop self-management skills which will lead to effective choices and decisions about their lives. Guidance is viewed as a continuum, an on-going process which begins before the student enters the school and continues when the student leaves. While Guidance and Counselling is delivered by professionally trained School Guidance Counsellors it is also acknowledged that Guidance is a whole-school approach and management, teaching staff, chaplaincy, Year Heads, parents, and students are all are important stakeholders whose input is welcomed in the delivery of this Guidance Counselling service.

The pupils' needs, on which the school Guidance and Counselling service is based, can be grouped under three headings: educational needs, vocational needs and personal needs.

  • Educational Guidance and Counselling refers to assisting pupils to access the information and develop the skills and attitudes necessary to get maximum benefit from their time in school. Pupils are given the supportnecessary to cope with issues that relate to education, e.g. problems with study, examination stress, programme choice, subject choice, etc.
  • Vocational Guidance and Counselling refers to assisting pupils to access the information and develop the skills and attitudes necessary to explore and clarify career possibilities, to set attainable career goals, to make informed decisions and to take the necessary practical steps to implement these decisions.
  • Personal Guidance and Counselling refers to assisting pupils to access the information and develop the skills and attitudes necessary to cope successfully with their personal and social relationships both inside and outside school.

Counselling is viewed in this context as an interactive learning process between counsellor and student which approaches, in a holistic way the personal, educational and/or vocational needs of the student. The availability of a counselling service can offer support to individual pupils outside the classroom context and help staff to support these pupils in the classroom. The counselling service also aims to support both the pastoral and the disciplinary structures in the school. Competitiveness, bullying, social exclusion, family crisis, scholastic under-achievement, abuse, sexual identity issues, peer pressure, anxiety issues, self-esteem issues, substance misuse are some of the issues with which students present to the Guidance Department and which can be assisted with the support of counselling service.

While Guidance Counselling is described as three distinct areas the reality is that these areas are inextricably linked and a holistic approach is used in delivering a Guidance service to support student’s development in Holy Family Secondary School. This is achieved through timetabled lessons, presentations and one-to-one interventions. As guidance is a whole-school concern, the plan applies to school management and staff generally.  The plan operates within a legislative framework and takes account of the following;

  • Section 9(C) of the Education Act, 1998 (relating to students’ access to appropriate guidance)
  • Department of Education and Skills Circular Letter No. PPT 12/05
  • The Education Welfare Act, 2000
  • Equal Status Act, 2000
  • The Equality Act, 2004


The Guidance and Counselling service in Holy Family Secondary School strives to foster a holistic approach to meet the guidance needs of our students and staff within the context of our mission statement. Through facilitating the effective delivery of Guidance we aim to:

  • Assist and support our students in a meaningful way with their personal and educational development
  • Develop self- awareness and self-confidence in our students to think for themselves and to develop the necessary skills to make informed choices and decisions (subjects, courses, career paths, personal etc.)
  • Stimulate our students to develop a proactive approach to their learning and to advance the full range of their abilities so as to pursue their studies at the highest level having due regard to their own individual abilities and interests
  • Be available as a support for students and staff and to adopt an "open door" policy in relation to meeting with pupils, teachers, parents and management. Specific time periods will be set aside for appointments in the timetable for this purpose. Priority will be given to pupils who appear to be in crisis
  • Strive to provide a broad, diverse curriculum which is relevant to the needs of our student body
  • Promote a mutually respectful environment in the school to enable the success of our goals

The School Guidance and Counselling plan endeavours at all times to make the guidance:

  • Accessible to all students in Holy Family Secondary School
  • As responsive as possible to concerns expressed by staff colleagues
  • Impartial
  • Inclusive
  • Informed
  • Confidential in nature
  • Expressive of the ethos of Holy Family Secondary School

Method of Delivery of Guidance Programme

  • Timetabled classes with Transition Year and 5th year students to include visits to college open days.
  • Scheduled presentations and talks delivered by Guidance Counsellors and/or outside speakers to 6th Year students. Students are encouraged to attend any talks they feel are relevant to them.
  • Guidance Counsellor visits to Junior Cycle classes to deliver information on transition to second level, study skills and preparing for exams, subject choice etc.
  • One-to-one interviews with all 6th year pupils regarding further study and career options, post leaving cert. 
  • One-to-one interviews with Transition Year pupils regarding aptitude tests and subject choice
  • Individual Counselling
  • Open Door Policy to establish links and meet with management, Year Heads, staff, parents and other outside parties, etc.

Guidance Links with other Personnel and Parents

The holistic development of the pupil is at the core of the Guidance service and with Guidance as a whole school approach the primary resource which the Guidance Service relies on is the expertise and professionalism of the school staff. Guidance Counsellors also welcome contact with parents and  are available to meet with parents by appointment to discuss student issues. Guidance Counsellors also meet with parents at Information meetings for all year groups at commencement of school year and at all annual parent-teacher meetings. Guidance counsellors meet with 6th year parents at the information meetings on CAO and Transition to College and meet with Transition Year parents at Subject Choice information meeting.


Guidance & Counselling in Holy Family Secondary School is provided by professionally qualified staff who abide by the code of ethics and confidentiality policy as outlined by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC).
Students who access personal counselling are assured of confidentiality in their dealings with Guidance Counsellors at Holy Family Secondary School. However Limits of Confidentiality exist in certain circumstances where the Guidance Counsellor believes there is serious risk of harm or danger to the welfare of the student or another individual. The issue of confidentiality is discussed with students during the first personal counselling session and the counsellor outlines for the pupil the potential situations in which confidentiality cannot be guaranteed and that information of this nature would have to be referred on to appropriate personnel.

The primary focus is the welfare of pupils and the Guidance Counsellor is ethically bound to act in the best interest of the pupil within the law and within the ethical guidelines as outlined by IGC.

In all circumstances it is good practice for the Guidance Counsellor to be mindful when discussing students with other staff members only to refer to necessary information regarding students that is relevant and pertinent to their situations.

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