Beginning on a phased basis from September 2014, the new junior cycle will feature revised subjects and short courses, a focus on literacy, numeracy and key skills, and new approaches of assessment and reporting. Schools will have more freedom to design junior cycle programmes that meet the learning needs of all students. For students, the new junior cycle will mean that the curriculum available in their schools will be a mix of subjects as well as short courses and other learning experiences. More information on these short courses and learning experiences is available from CurriculumOnline here.
For a small group of students with special educational needs, priority learning units (PLUs) will be provided. These components will enable the statements of learning, literacy and numeracy and other key skills to be become a reality for the students throughout their three-year junior cycle.
For a period of five years from 2014, the new Junior Cycle will operate in schools alongside the programmes based around the existing Junior Certificate. Almost all junior cycle students take courses leading to the Junior Certificate, the State examination taken at the end of the third year of junior cycle, when students are 15 years of age. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level, although three subjects, Irish, English and mathematics, can also be studied at Foundation Level. A full list of all available Junior Certificate Subjects is available here.
From 2014, the new junior cycle was to feature newly developed subjects and short courses, a focus on literacy, numeracy and key skills, and new approaches of assessment and reporting.
The change started in 2014 with a new English Programme, followed by Science and Irish in 2015, and a new Business course and suite of short courses added in 2016.
Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level. Three subjects, Irish, English and Mathematics, can also be studied at Foundation Level. While a majority of subjects are assessed as part of the Junior Certificate Examination, the junior cycle provision also includes a number of subjects that are integral to the curriculum, but are not formally assessed in this way. The inclusion of these subjects in the curriculum ensures that students receive a broad, balanced education that introduces them to all the areas of experience relevant to the needs of learners at this age and stage of their development. Non-examination subjects at junior cycle include Physical Education, Social, Personal and Health Education and Computer Studies, while Religious Education is available both as an examination and non-examination subject.
See the Junior Certificate Fact sheets which give information about the different subjects available in junior cycle. These fact sheets have been designed with sixth class pupils and first year students in mind, they will also be useful for parents. The fact sheets also outline the assessment used for the subject in the Junior Certificate examination.