Padraig Nolan

Higher Diploma in School Guidance and Counselling and Master of Education (School Guidance Counselling)

I started working in a large boys secondary school after qualifying as a Business and Mathematics teacher.  After over a decade of teaching Business I decided I needed to develop professionally.  I was attracted to the Higher Diploma in School Guidance and Counselling because it would improve my interpersonal/professional skills.
I undertook the Higher Diploma in School Guidance Counselling course in 1998-1999.  It was a very busy but fulfilling year.  We were in school on Mondays and Fridays and at college Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays.  There were a lot of essays, group work (new to me) and exams at the end of the year.  I did my placement in a different school from the one I taught in and this added to the experience of a break from school.
There weren’t any guidance counselling hours available in the school I worked in so I began applying for jobs.  I was fortunate to get a job as Deputy Principal in St Patrick’s Community College, Naas (now Pipers Hill Community College).  The role of Deputy Principal is very similar to that of Guidance Counsellor.  It allows you to work with students on an individual basis.
In 2006 I applied for a position of Principal and I was fortunate to be offered the job.  Scoil Mhuire Community school, Clane is a large secondary school and the experience I gained from the HDSGC helped me in my role of Principal.  Ten years after finishing the HDSGC I applied for the Masters in Education (School Guidance Counselling) at Maynooth University.  I used the masters to undertake a self-reflective enquiry in my practice as Principal.  The area I looked at was how we as a school can encourage students to fulfil their potential.  All the practices I used then to help encourage students are still used in the school.
I use the skills I learned on the guidance course on a daily basis.  I found them very helpful when I managed the Kildare and Offaly senior football teams.  It allowed me to be advanced in practice.  The skills I acquired helped me coach the individual as well as the team.
I learned a lot of new skills on the HDSGC course and it also helped me develop skills I already had.  The course gave me great confidence in my ability.  I found it very enriching and a hugely enjoyable experience.