Introduction to School Counselling


Young people's mental health and wellbeing have been gaining ground on the political and societal agendas.  As schools come under pressure to respond and provide additional pastoral support to students, many have opted to employ a dedicated school counsellor.

This course will be a basic introduction to how such services have evolved, who they benefit in the educational and wider communities, and why they are important.  Aimed at pastoral staff, counsellors, and counsellors in training, this course outlines many of the core skills and components involved in school counselling. Attention will be given to the organisational demands and user expectations inherent in school counselling, as well as setting up a school counselling service.

The course will be taught from a psychodynamic perspective with a focus on secondary schools. Other counselling modalities, and roles in primary and tertiary educational settings, will also be explored.

Programme details

Course starts: 23 Apr 2024

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Why choose school counselling?

Week 3: The school setting

Week 4: Human Development and Life Stages

Week 5: Working with Young People

Week 6: Organisational Dynamics

Week 7: Working with parents and outside agencies

Week 8: Working with School Staff

Week 9: Setting up a counselling service

Week 10: Revision and Endings

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend at least 80% of the classes on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Course Fee £345.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Miss Laura McDonald

Laura McDonald is a counsellor and psychotherapist. She works with schools and colleges to set up and run counselling services, delivers professional development and training, writes about counselling issues and practices in Oxford.

Course aims

To deliver an overview to counsellors and other professionals interested in exploring, setting up or running counselling services in school.

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the specific demands of counselling in schools.
  • To explore the skills needed in counselling students and staff in education.
  • To provide a basic model for setting up a counselling service in schools.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods will include tutor presentations, visual media, suggested reading and analysis of key texts. Group discussion and learning will also feature.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • understand some key elements of counselling in schools;
  • develop an overview of skills needed to set up and run a school counselling service;
  • gain an insight into the wider context of pastoral care in education.

Assessment methods

Students will be asked to complete a summative assignment in the form of an essay (approx 1500 words). Details will be given by the tutor in the first few weeks of the course.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


Applications are received on a first come, first served basis. All applicants are required to attend a brief informal interview with the course tutor prior to being accepted onto this course. Therefore, direct online enrolments are not available. Instead, please download and complete BOTH forms below and return them to the Weekly Class Programme Office:

It is anticipated that the interviews will take place approximately one month prior to course start.

Payment for the course will be arranged once places are officially offered.

1. Enrolment Form (Word) or (Pdf)

2. Counselling Application Form

If you have any questions about the enrolment process please contact us.

Level and demands

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)