The New Junior Cycle

March 11, 2017 admin No comments exist

The Junior Cycle gives schools greater flexibility to design programmes that are suited to the needs of their junior cycle students and to the particular context of the school. Each school’s programme:

  • will be guided by the twenty-four statements of learning, eight principles and eight key skills that are at the core of the new Junior Cycle
  • will encompass learning in subjects or a combination of subjects and short courses
  • will include an area of learning entitled Wellbeing
  • will provide a range of other learning experiences
  • may include priority learning units (PLUs) that will help to provide a junior cycle programme that is appropriate to the needs of particular students with significant special educational needs.

Main Areas of Learning

Key Principles:

  1.  Learning to learn
  2. Choice and Flexability
  3. Quality
  4. Creativity and Innovation
  5. Engagement and Participation
  6. Continuity and Development
  7. Inclusive Education
  8. Wellbeing

Statements of Learning:

The learning at the core of Junior Cycle is described in the twenty-four statements of learning which are set out in Table 1. The twenty-four statements, underpinned by the eight principles, are central to planning for, the students’ experience of, and the evaluation of the school’s junior cycle programme. Schools will ensure that all statements of learning and the eight key skills feature in the programmes offered to their junior cycle students. The detailed learning outcomes will be clearly set out in subject and short course specifications.

Key Skills:

  1. Being Literate
  2. Managing Myself
  3. Staying Well
  4. Managing Information & Thinking
  5. Being Numerate
  6. Being Creative
  7. Working with Others
  8. Communicating

Junior Cycle Assessment

The Framework for Junior Cycle (2015) presents a dual approach to assessment that supports student learning over the three years of junior cycle and also measures achievement at the end of those three years. This dual approach reduces the focus on one externally assessed examination as a means of assessing students and increases the prominence given to classroom-based assessment and formative assessment. This change of emphasis arises from an acknowledgement that students learn best when teachers provide feedback that helps students to understand how their learning can be improved.
In the case of each subject, two structured Classroom-Based Assessments will be introduced which will contribute to and build on the use of formative assessment in the classroom. One of these Classroom-Based Assessments will take place in second year, and the other during third year. Each assessment will be drawn from a variety of types of assessment, which might include project tasks, oral language tasks, investigations, practical or designing and making tasks, field studies and artistic performance.
After the second of the Classroom-Based Assessments, students will complete a written Assessment Task on what they have learned and the skills and competences that they have developed in that assessment. The Assessment Task, along with the final examination at the end of third year, will be marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). The dual approach to assessment will recognise and value the different types of learning that take place in schools, and will allow for a more rounded assessment of the education of each young person.

Range of assessment:

  • Ongoing assessments, including routine teacher-designed tasks and tests
  • One or two Classroom-Based Assessment tasks in short courses
  • Ongoing assessment for students undertaking priority learning units at Level 2 (Learning Difficulties)
  • Structured Classroom-Based Assessments for subjects conducted in second and third year
  • A written Assessment Task for subjects that will be based on the second Classroom-Based Assessment and will be submitted to the SEC for marking along with the state-certified examination
  • An externally assessed, state-certified examination for subjects at the end of third year
  • Specific arrangements for ‘practical’ subjects

Subject Learning and Assessment Review Meeting (SLAR):

  • All teachers of each subject involved in teaching and assessing the Classroom-Based Assessments in the school will engage in Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings where they will share and discuss samples of their assessments of student work and build common understanding about the quality of student learning.
  •  Each Subject Learning and Assessment Review meeting will be subject-specific and will focus on the Classroom-Based Assessment undertaken by the particular year group.



Phased Implementation of the Junior Cycle

Subjects Other Areas Introduced to First Years in: First Recorded on JCPA in:
Phase 1: English September 2014 Autumn 2017
Phase 2: Science and Business Studies September 2016 Autumn 2019
Phase 3: Irish, Modern Languages (French, Spanish, German, Italian) and Art, Craft & Design Wellbeing September 2017 Autumn 2020
Phase 4: Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Music and Geography September 2018 Autumn 2021
Phase 5: Technology Subjects ( Materials Technology/ Wood, Technical Graphics, Metalwork, Technology), Religious Education, Jewish Studies and Classics September 2019 Autumn 2022

Reports On Your Junior Cycle

Formal reporting on the progress and achievements of students will be through annual reports in first year and second year, and through the composite Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) in the autumn following third year. This will complement existing reporting systems employed in schools including reporting of progress to parents/guardians and students during events such as teacher-student feedback sessions and parent-teacher meetings.
The reporting process at junior cycle will culminate in the award of the JCPA to students. The JCPA will be awarded for the first time in autumn 2017. During the years when students are studying subjects for which new specifications have been provided alongside existing Junior Certificate subjects, the results of the latter will be included in the JCPA. The format of the JCPA will evolve as the various phases of junior cycle reform are rolled out.
The JCPA will reward achievement across all areas of learning as applicable:

  • Subjects
  • Short courses
  • Wellbeing
  • Priority learning units
  • Other areas of learning

The JCPA will draw upon and report on achievement across all elements of assessment including ongoing, formative assessment; Classroom-Based Assessments; and SEC grades which include results from the state-certified examinations and the Assessment Tasks. The JCPA will have a nationally determined format. It will be compiled by the school and received by students in the autumn following third year, when all assessment results from the SEC and the school are available and confirmed.

At ExamLearn, we feel true pity for students who simply cannot get their heads around this new Junior Cycle. For this reason, we have condensed all the long, complicated ‘framework documents’ published by the department into as concise a document as we could, while containing all the necessary information. We are in the process of creating detailed notes and exam answers on the new English course to help students tackle this new experience, so be sure the sign up to ExamLearn today.

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