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Junior Cycle

We have four new Short Courses starting in September 2018:

  • Physical Education:

    This 100 hour short course builds on the Junior Cycle Physical Education Framework which physical education teachers currently use to plan their physical education programme in junior cycle. There are four strands, each one focusing on learning in different physical activity areas: Physical activity for health and wellbeing. Games, Individual and team challenges, Dance and Gymnastics. 6 The learning outcomes in this short course provide a clear focus for student learning as well as teacher planning. In order to ensure that students are motivated to learn and participate in physical education, there is emphasis on consultation with students about the course and assessment design.

  • Digital media Lilteracy:

    Creating and sharing media in a digital environment has become an increasingly important feature of how young people communicate and engage with each other and with the wider world. Young people are actively manipulating digital media to participate in social and cultural life, to pursue their interests and to express themselves online. Through studying this digital media literacy short course, students will learn to use digital technology to engage in self-directed enquiry, to discriminate between multiple sources of information and to participate safely and effectively in an online environment.

  • Civic, Social and Political Education:

    This 100 hour short course builds upon the 70 hour CSPE course that many are familiar with. It is built around three strands, rights and responsibilities, global citizenship and exploring democracy. There is a strong focus on student action aimed at giving students an experience of active citizenship.

    Social, Personal and Health Education:

    This 100 hour SPHE short course builds on the Junior Cycle Social, Personal and Health Education Framework which SPHE teachers currently use to plan their SPHE programme in junior cycle. By choosing to include this short course in the school’s Wellbeing programme in junior cycle, students have a dedicated space and time to learn about themselves, caring for themselves and others and making informed decisions for their health and wellbeing. There are four strands, each one focusing on learning in different but related areas of social, personal and health education: Who am I?, Minding myself and others, Team up, and My mental health. The learning outcomes provide a clear focus for student learning as well as teacher planning. There is particular emphasis on the importance of student agency and engagement in the learning process as key to learning in the affective domain.

Key Skills Graphic

The New Junior Cycle represents a significant change in the way secondary education is provided to our young people in Ireland. Full details on the thinking behind the new curriculum which is currently being phased in can be found in the Junior Cycle Framework document: Framework-for-Junior-Cycle-2015

The new curriculum focuses on developing 6 Key Skills. These are summarised in the table below:key-skills Table form


The framework document sets out 24 corresponding statements of learning which schools should provide to it’s students through the subjects it offers. These are available here: NCCA-Junior-Cycle-Statements-of-Learning

Provision for theses statements of learning is being accompanied by a new curriculum structure and new subjects specifications being introduced on a phased basis.

New Curriculum Structure

Schools may now offer a number of ‘Short Courses‘ as well as the established subjects.  These short courses can cover a wide range of learning and at Mounthawk we are currently giving careful consideration to what courses to offer.  Some short courses being offered from the NCCA include Coding, Philosophy, CSPE, PE, SPHE, Artistic Performance and Digital Media Literacy among others. In Mounthawk, from September 2018 students have the option of taking the maximum of 10 full subjects for Junior Cycle or they may opt instead for 9 subjects plus 2 short courses. Details of these choices will be issued to parents at the appropriate time. Parents can see greater detail on the content of Short Courses at this link:

New Subject Specifications

New subject syllabi (or ‘specifications’) are being introduced in all Junior Cycle subjects on a planned, phased basis which began in 2014 with English. The graphic below outlines the plans for subject specification introductions:

Phases for JC Subject Introduction

The Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement

From 2017 the state no longer issues the traditional Junior Certificate to students. This is now replaced by the school-issued Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA). This profile document outlines the results achieved in the state certified examinations in June of the third year but also shows the results achieved in key Classroom Based Assessments (CBA’s) which are administered and assessed by the class teacher.  There is also a section to recognise ‘Other Areas of learning’. This, for the first time, gives an opportunity for a student’s extra-curricular involvements to be acknowledged and the learning in those areas noted. Students are surveyed, in conjunction with their parents, on what other areas of learning they wish to include here.  The involvements that can appear must, however be firstly, school-based and secondly, verifiable by a teacher in the school. A sample JCPA can be seen here :

JCPA Sample

An excellent summary of the above information can be seen here: Junior Cycle Information for Parents



A major emphasis of the new Junior Cycle is student wellbeing. Wellbeing comprises a subject in Junior Cycle components of which are covered in the subjects of PE, SPHE and CSPE. Elements of wellbeing may also be covered in other subjects as well as directly in our class tutorial sessions .  More detail on Wellbeing can be found here: Wellbeing-Guidelines-for-Junior-Cycle