16NCGE NEWS Winter 2011Post PrimaryModule 1 from a CFE PerspectiveIn 2010 NCGE was invited by City of Dublin VEC (CDVEC) to tailor and deliver Module 1 of the Whole School Guidance Planning programme to guidance counsellors working in the Colleges of Further Education (CFE). Initially, in the spring of 2010, NCGE delivered a workshop on guidance planning to guidance counsellors employed by the CDVEC. The workshop was well received and it was agreed that a Module 1 centre be established in early 2011 specifically for guidance counsellors working in the CFE sector. The following article has been written by Anne O'Brien, a participant from that centre, which highlights her experience of Module 1: Reviewing Whole School Guidance.'As a guidance counsellor in Waterford College of Further Education (WCFE), I was keen to participate in the programme because I had many unanswered questions about Part 2 (areas for development) of the guidance plan.Programme StructureThree one-day workshops were held in Dublin during the second and third terms of 2011. The workshops were facilitated by Ann Tuffy, Máire Ni Choileán, and Professor Jean McNiff, a recognised leader in the field of action research. In each workshop there was a focus on one activity such as convening a staff group and undertaking a review and needs analysis. The workshops were supported by meetings in Second Life, an online virtual world. These meetings gave participants the opportunity to report on work to date and to discuss assignments. It took some time to become used to the technology and to using an avatar. However, I found it to be an extremely useful support. We also had access to an online library of materials and readings. In terms of assessment, a Learner Portfolio had to be submitted. This included two progress reports, a final report and learning journal. The workload was greater than I anticipated with readings, assignments and working on the guidance plan in college. I certainly had to fine tune my time-management skills.Teaching and LearningA number of pedagogies were used such as group work and reflection based activities, but the primary focus was teaching us how to do action research. The action research cycle was described and explained by Jean McNiff and then each participant had the opportunity to put the theory into practice and to improve his/her professional practice by doing research in the workplace.
17My research question was: 'What is the quality of the guidance provision for students in the social studies/childcare department?' By using the methodology I learned a great deal about the organisation in which I work, for example, the key role of class tutors in guidance provision. Key learnings for me included; . the importance of collaboration in the planning process, . making your findings public, . and working with uncertainty. Additional thoughts . The programme offered the opportunity to network and to exchange ideas with fellow practitioners. . It was a privilege to have Jean McNiff as a facilitator and mentor on the programme. I found her questions and comments both thought provoking and challenging.. I think it is a significant development that NCGE has responded to the particular needs of guidance counsellors in Further EducationPost PrimaryModule 1 from a CFE Perspective continuedNCGE NEWS Winter 2011Additional InformationNCGE will continue to deliver Module 1 to guidance counsellors working in both post-primary and CFE sectors. Interested guidance counsellors should apply for the programme through http://vle.ncge.ieCLICK toLINKOverall, I found the programme to be worthwhile and a positive learning experience. I have expanded my knowledge base and have acquired skills which allow me to conduct action research for my continuing professional development. I would like to thank City of Dublin VEC and City of Waterford VEC for the opportunity to participate in the programme'.