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Talking to Joe: Minister gives tips as helpline off to busy start


Education Minister Joe McHugh takes a call. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Education Minister Joe McHugh takes a call. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Education Minister Joe McHugh takes a call. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

The annual Leaving Cert Helpline got off to a busy start as about 300 students, parents and other concerned family members, sought one-to-one advice following the release of the results.

As guidance counsellors dealt with the callers, Education Minister Joe McHugh revealed how his disappointment over his Leaving Cert outcome 30 years ago turned into a happy story.

Mr McHugh, who was speaking during a visit to the National Parents' Council post primary (NPCpp) Leaving Cert Helpline, said he thought he was "going to do better" than he did and "I beat myself up for a good number of weeks and possibly months".

He had wanted to go to Queen's University, Belfast to study engineering. Instead, "I ended up going to Maynooth for an arts degree", he said.

But he added: "In hindsight, it could not have worked out better and my message to people who feel that their expectations weren't met is that there are so many pathways, so many options."

Mr McHugh surprised a couple of callers to the helpline when he spoke directly to them, offering reassuring words before handing back to a guidance counsellor.

Guidance counsellors worked flat out on the 1800 265 165 helpline yesterday, and the main concerns dealt with were how to calculate CAO points, procedures and timelines around viewing exam scripts and queries about the CAO process.

The helpline is sponsored by the Irish Independent and the Department of Education, and staffed by members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and a representative of the grants agency, Susi. It is also supported by the GAA.

The helpline is running for five days, up to, and including, Saturday morning. It is open today from 10am-7pm. CAO round one offers will be published tomorrow at 2pm.

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