Guidance & Counselling

The aim of the guidance and counselling programme is to ensure that our students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their academic, personal and social development and supporting them in making educational and career choices in accordance with the Education Act (1998).


The guidance process aims to help students to develop an awareness and acceptance of their talents and abilities by allowing them to explore possibilities and opportunities. We aim to support them to grow in independence and to take responsibility for themselves allowing them to make informed choices about their lives.

Some guidance activities in Pres Bray include:

  • Supporting parents and students throughout the journey from 1st to 6th year in making choices and dealing with change e.g. transition from primary to secondary school, subject choice and career decisions.
  • Organised visits to Higher Educational Institutions.
  • Personal career interviews for students covering CAO, PLC, Apprenticeships, HEAR/DARE and SUSI application.
  • Organising personal awareness talks.
  • Linking up with the local community organisations.
  • One-to-one career mentoring for Transition Year and 5th year students involving career exploration and becoming familiar with online websites for career and college investigation.
  • Organising guest speakers from Higher Educational Institution, Post Leaving Cert Colleges, Career Ambassadors and Apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Administering and analysing the Harrison Assessment career navigation psychometric test for both Transition year and 5th year students which comprehensively matches the student to their top 10 career choices, provides a reatest strengths and career development report.
  • Organising guest speakers from Higher Educational Institutions, Post Leaving Cert Colleges, Career Ambassadors and Apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Helping students to prepare for application to Higher Educational Institutions and Colleges of Further Education when they are in 5th and 6th year through one-to-one interviews.



Counselling is a key part of the schools guidance programme. This is offered on an individual or group basis as part of a developmental learning process as well as at times of personal crisis. Counselling has as its objective the empowerment of students so that they can make decisions, solve problems, address behavioural issues, develop coping strategies and resolve difficulties that they may be experiencing. We hope to help to develop life-long resiliency.

A professional relationship involving confidentiality is at the core of the schools counselling service. The guidance counsellor does not act in a disciplinary capacity and this frees him to deal with students at a more personal level.

Common issues include:

  • Self-esteem building
  • Anger management control
  • Family bereavement or illness
  • Friendship issues

Our guidance counsellor often refers students, with the consent of parents, to outside agencies for more intensive and focused therapy. Issues such as depression, suicide ideation, self-harm and eating disorders all need outside professional intervention. The guidance counsellor offers counselling support to the student before and after the referral but not while the outside intervention is taking place.

How can a student access counselling?

Most counselling appointments are made by the students themselves but sometimes they are referred by a parent or teacher.

There are a number of ways that a student can seek counselling:

  1. The student can request counselling in person by calling into the guidance counsellor’s office.
  2. A parent or guardian may contact the guidance counsellor to make an appointment for the student.
  3. The student can leave a note under the door of the guidance counsellor’s office stating name and class where by the guidance counsellor will set up an appointment.
  4. The student may speak in confidence to her tutor/subject teacher or Year Head about a problem. If it is considered that counselling would be of benefit the tutor/teacher/Year Head could:
    1. Come directly to the counsellor to arrange an appointment for the student concerned
    2. And/or encourage the student to make an appointment in person


What is HEAR?

The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a college and university scheme that offers places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. HEAR has been set up by a number of colleges and universities, as evidence shows that socio-economic disadvantage can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college. HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be considered for a reduced points place and extra college support.

For more information please go to

What is DARE?

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. DARE offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second level education.

DARE is for school leavers with a disability under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2021, who have been educationally impacted as a result of that disability. Applicants to DARE can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and other EU qualifications.

For more information please go to

Is DARE applicable to me?

If you have one or more of the disabilities listed below and your disability has had a negative impact on your second level education, then you should apply to DARE.

To be eligible for DARE, you must meet both the evidence of disability criteria and educational impact criteria.

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s Syndrome)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Blind / Vision Impaired
  • Deaf / Hard of Hearing
  • DCD – Dyspraxia
  • Mental Health Condition
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Speech & Language Communication Disorder
  • Significant Ongoing Illness
  • Physical Disability
  • Specific Learning Difficulty

Reduced Points

If you apply to DARE and meet the application criteria (that is, are deemed eligible for DARE), you may be offered a place even if you do not have enough Leaving Certificate points for your preferred course. Each participating college and university has a reserved number of places to offer eligible DARE applicants at lower or reduced Leaving Certificate points.

An example of a reduced points offer is that the Leaving Certificate points for a particular course is 366 points. An eligible DARE applicant could be offered a place with a lower points score, e.g. 356 points. This applicant would also, like all other applicants applying to college, need to meet the minimum entry requirements and any specific programme requirements before being considered for a DARE reduced points offer. The reduction in points for DARE places can vary every year.

The number of points a particular course is reduced by is dependent on a number of factors, such as

  • The overall number of places on the course.
  • The number of reserved DARE places on the course.
  • The number of DARE eligible applicants competing for these reserved places.

Information on the number of reduced points places available per course and the method used by colleges for selecting eligible DARE students for those places is available on HEI websites and on each of the participating colleges’ page on this site.

Prioritisation of Applicants Eligible for both DARE & HEAR

Research has shown that students with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds face the greatest obstacles when it comes to progression to higher education. In order to increase the numbers of students facing this ‘double disadvantage’, colleges participating in DARE and HEAR have agreed to prioritise this group when allocating reduced points places.

Prioritisation of Eligible DARE Applicants with a Physical or Sensory Disability

Research has identified that students with physical and sensory (Blind/ Vision Impairment and Deaf/ Hard of Hearing) disabilities are particularly underrepresented in higher education in Ireland relative to all students with disabilities. In order to increase the numbers of DARE students with physical and sensory disabilities being admitted to higher education, the DARE colleges have agreed to prioritise these two groups when allocating reduced points places.

College Supports

You don’t have to be eligible for DARE to get support in college. All students with a verified disability, regardless of whether they come through DARE or not, can avail of a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying at third level.

College supports may include:
  • Orientation programmes.
  • Learning support.
  • Assistive technology.
  • Library support.
  • Exam accommodations.
  • Educational Support Worker.
  • EducationalAcademic tuition.

Language Waivers

Applying to DARE and applying for a language waiver are two separate processes. Therefore, DARE applicants who require a language waiver but haven’t yet applied for one need to apply to the relevant authorities (e.g. National University of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, etc.).

If there is a language requirement in the specific programme requirements for your chosen course, you must have that language.


To view the government’s action plan for apprenticeships please click on the link below:

For further information on apprenticeships, please click on the following links:

Financial Assistance and SUSI

Students applying to DARE are encouraged to find out more information on the maintenance grant. Additional information on other sources of financial assistance for third level students is available at:

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)

For detailed information on financial support and student grants when going to third level, log on to

  • Use the Grant Eligibility Reckoner to indicate if you meet SUSI’s criteria to receive student grant funding.
  • Apply early and return requested documentation as soon as possible.
  • Tick the SUSI option on your CAO application to share your college course details with SUSI.