Junior Cycle caters for students in the first three years of their post-primary education.
The junior cycle was introduced on a phased basis between September 2014 and September 2021. It features revised subjects and short courses, a focus on key skills, and new approaches to assessment and reporting. Schools have more freedom to design junior cycle programmes that meet the learning needs of all students. For students, the junior cycle curriculum available in their schools is a mix of subjects and short courses as well as other learning experiences. In addition to classroom-based assessments, students complete state examinations at the end of their three year junior cycle and receive a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.
During second and third year, students complete a number of Classroom-Based Assessments. In addition to classroom-based assessments, students complete state examinations at the end of their three year junior cycle and receive a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.
For a small group of students with special educational needs, priority learning units (PLUs) are provided. These components enable the statements of learning and key skills to become a reality for these students throughout their three-year junior cycle.
From 2014, the junior cycle operated in schools alongside the existing Junior Certificate. From 2022, all junior cycle subjects and short courses have been revised and the Junior Certificate has been phased out. All links to curriculum documents for the previous junior certificate programme can be found in the subject archives on www.ncca.ie.
Junior Certificate students are offered a wide range of subjects. All students take the core subjects of Irish, English, Maths, Religious Education, CSPE, SPHE, Geography and PE. In addition, students choose two options following a subject taster programme in September. The option subjects include: French, Business Studies, Art, Home Ec., Science, Music and Woodwork. Students will continue with two of these subjects into Second and Third Year.
There are written Department of Education and Science examinations at the end of the programme. Some subjects also have a practical element to the examination. These include Art, Craft and Design, Metalwork, Music, Materials Technology and Home Economics.
JUNIOR CERTIFICATE SCHOOL PROGRAMME (JCSP)
WHAT IS THE JCSP?
The Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) is a national programme under the auspices of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). Currently, the programme is offered in 224 schools throughout the country. JCSP operates within the Junior Certificate/ Cycle curriculum. It follows the curriculum framework set out for the Junior Certificate/Cycle, which is re-focused to cater for JCSP students.
It is an intervention into the Junior Certificate/Cycle and not an alternative to it. It helps to make the curriculum accessible and relevant to young people who would benefit from a different approach to the Junior Certificate/Cycle.
The JCSP approach involves:
- analysing students’ strengths and weaknesses and taking note of any specific recurring difficulties.
- planning programmes of work which both build on students’ abilities and address the main obstacles which hinder their progress.
- engaging in dialogue with young people and their parents regarding their needs and their progress in school
The content of the courses which JCSP students follow emphasise skills, knowledge and concepts selected from Junior Certificate/ Cycle subject syllabi and subject specifications which best explore the aptitudes and abilities of these young peoples’ key skills, knowledge and concepts which are essential for students’ progress in all areas of the curriculum.
The Programme is designed to ensure that these young people can benefit from their time in school and enjoy the experience of improvement and success. It does this by providing a curriculum framework which will assist schools and individual teachers in adopting a student-centred approach to education and in providing students with a programme to meet their individual needs.
The Junior Certificate School Programme attempts to help young people experience success and develop a positive self-image by providing a curriculum and assessment framework suitable to their needs. The programme aims to ensure that students actively participate in their learning, make progress and build on their achievements. The programme also aims to develop students’ literacy, numeracy, communication and group work skills. On completion of the programme, students receive a profile which is an official record of their achievements from the Department of Education and Skills.
What is the aim of the JCSP?
The Junior Certificate School Programme attempts to help young people experience success and develop a positive self-image by providing a curriculum and assessment framework suitable to their needs. The programme aims to ensure that students actively participate in their learning, make progress and build on their achievements. The programme also aims to develop students’ literacy, numeracy, communication and group work skills. On completion of the programme, students receive a profile which is an official record of their achievements from the Department of Education and Skill
Is this an alternative to the Junior Certificate?
No, the Junior Certificate School Programme is not an alternative to the Junior Certificate. It is a framework that is designed to help schools and teachers develop an imaginative approach to the Junior Certificate course. All the students in the Programme must be entered for the Junior Certificate examination.
What is the difference between the JCSP and the Junior Certificate?
The Junior Certificate School Programme is a way of working within the Junior Certificate. It is designed especially to help young people who have had a difficult experience of school and may be potential early leavers. Through a system of profiling a student’s work in Junior Cycle classes, students are provided with opportunities to engage with the curriculum and to achieve success at school. They get an official certificate of their achievements, validated by the Department of Education and Skills, in addition to their Junior Certificate Examination Certificate.
Do students sit the Junior Certificate examination?
Absolutely! The whole point of participating in the Junior Certificate School Programme is to stay at school, experience success in school and become more confident about sitting the Junior Certificate Exam.
Do many students fail JCSP?
Students cannot fail JCSP. The Programme is about success. Achievable statements are carefully chosen. Students get an opportunity to complete a series of statements and build their own success profile – a profile listing all the things they can do.
Do parents have a role in JCSP?
Parental involvement is encouraged and welcomed in JCSP. Schools increase the frequency of contact with parents with emphasis on passing on ‘good news’. Many schools hold parent days to exhibit work done, award certificates of achievement and generally celebrate with parents their children’s successes. Parents are invited to become actively involved in their children’s education by working with the school in encouraging good attendance, punctuality and homework and by praising progress made.