Guidance & Career Education

The Guidance Team provide support for pupils throughout their time at St. Columba’s and provide extensive help in guiding them to the next stage of their working or academic life.

We learn a lot during secondary school, from Maths to English to Science to Music, but it’s important for pupils to learn about themselves too: their strengths, weaknesses, interests, values, anxieties and dreams. The Guidance Team at St. Columba’s have created a programme which aims to strengthen the personal and career development of each pupil throughout their time at St. Columba’s. The aim is that this allows them to work to the best of their ability in school while making a smooth and healthy transition to the world of work or to further education. Our objectives are established by the good practice outlined by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and the National Centre for Guidance in Education. We see guidance as a continuous developmental process which begins prior to the entry of the pupil to St. Columba’s College and continues throughout the pupil’s life in the school. Above all else, the needs of the pupil are central to any guidance practice.

The Guidance Programme for 2021 / 2022 is receiving a complete overhaul, with newly designed guidance lessons for all pupils from Form I to Form VI, supplemented with other appropriate interventions and activities, including psychometric testing. A new Guidance Centre will be established in the “Submarine”, a room located within the College Library – the heartbeat of the College. 

What are psychometric tests? 

Psychometric tests consist of both cognitive and career based assessments which help a pupil to acquire information for self understanding and to enable adequate monitoring of academic progress. Aptitude tests, interest inventories and examination performance can help in problem solving, decision-making and planning for the future.

Below is a brief outline of the lesson themes and activities in place for each Form group:

Form I

  • Induction Workshop: Adjusting to Secondary School, College Values & Leadership.
  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Working Effectively in School and Prep (i.e. homework), Leading by Example, Values & Self Concept, Understanding How I Learn, Sitting Examinations
  • Active Reflection Workshops
  • Assessments: Drumcondra Reasoning & Literacy Tests (these are carried out with the support of our Special Educational Needs Department)

Form II

  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Study Skills, Exploring Interests, Exploring & Discovering Careers
  • Team Building / Leadership Day with Alive Outside (Killruddery House)
  • Assessments: Drumcondra Reading and Maths Tests

Form III

  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Preparing for Junior Cycle Examinations, Being Proactive, Goal Setting
  • Study Skills Workshop with the Super Generation
  • Assessments: Introductory Career Interest Test
  • Transition Year Subject Choice Workshop
  • Team Building / Leadership Day

Form IV

  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Values, Interests and Aptitudes, Building Career Skills, Preparing for Work Experience, Reflecting on Work Experience
  • Old Columban Society Careers Evening
  • Subject Choice Workshop
  • Assessments: MyCareerChoices+ (Interest & Aptitude Assessments)
  • Leadership Day with Alive Outside (Killruddery House)
  • Individual meetings with the Guidance Team (to review MyCareerChoices+ assessments)

Form V

  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Developing a Growth Mindset, Habits of Effective Learners, Planning for the Future
  • Study Skills Workshop
  • Assessments: MyCareerChoices+ (for new pupils), MyUniChoices (university course search tool, for all pupils)
  • Individual meetings with the Guidance Team (reviewing assessments)
  • Introduction to University Applications Seminar
  • Parents Information Webinar

Form VI

  • Guidance Lesson Themes: Managing Workload, Effective Study, Managing CAO Applications, Transitioning to Third Level & the World of Work
  • Higher Options Conference & University Open Days
  • UCAS Application Seminars & Workshops
  • Personal Statement Workshop
  • US & European Application Workshops
  • CAO Seminar & Workshops
  • Individual Meetings with Guidance Team (to discuss university or career options)

Guidance & Wellbeing

The Guidance Team play a major role in the pupil wellbeing programme.

The work of the Guidance Team occurs in tandem with the Wellbeing Programme within the College, coordinated by our care team Cúram. The Career Education Counsellor (Mr. Jones) and the School Counsellor (Mrs Owen) sit on the Cúram Team. The Guidance Team work closely with the Warden, Sub-Warden, our colleagues in Special Educational Needs (SEN), teachers or SPHE & CSPE, the School Nursing Team, the Chaplain, the Transition Year Co-ordinator and indeed all staff to ensure the needs of our pupils are met. Click here to find out more about the Wellbeing Programme at St. Columba’s.

All pupils have the opportunity to meet members of the Guidance Team for counselling, for both personal and careers exploration. Counselling helps pupils explore their thoughts and feelings and the choices open to them. It gives care and support to pupils learning to cope with the many aspects of growing up and school life and with their individual personal circumstances. Individuals may be referred by the School Matron, House staff, the Warden or Sub Warden. Of course, pupils are able to self refer at any time and can arrange to meet the School Counsellor at any mutually suitable time or drop in at the assigned times. An external Counselling Psychotherapist is also available (details below).

Guidance Team Members

Meet the team of teachers and counsellors who form the Guidance Team.

Career Education Counsellors

Mr. Humphrey Jones, BScEd, PGDipGC (Guidance, Psychometrics & CAO Applications) 

Mr. Michael O’Shaughnessy, MA (UCAS Co-ordinator) 

School Counsellor

Mrs. Sonia Owen, BSc (Nursing), RGN (Guidance), DIP (Counselling).

School Counsellor (External)

Ms Antoinette Aherne Breslin, DIP (Counselling) IACP & WGII Accredited

Note: In addition to the above, the Guidance Planning Team also includes Ms A Maybury (Head of Pupil Welfare, Cúram), Dr M Singleton (Director of Studies), Ms S McEneaney (Head of SEN) and Mr M Boobbyer (Warden). The Guidance Planning Team ensure the Guidance Plan meets the full needs of the pupils and meet regularly throughout the year.