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Junior Cycle

In 2014, the new Junior Cycle was introduced into Irish schools. This new Junior Cycle places the student at the centre of the learning process. It allows for new ways of learning and a broader range of skills to be properly assessed.

“Junior Cycle places students at the centre of the educational experience, enabling them to actively participate in their communities and in society and to be resourceful and confident learners in all aspects and stages of their lives.”

NCCA Vision for Junior Cycle

Principles, Key Skills and Statements of Learning

Underpinning the new Junior Cycle are a set of principles, key skills and statements of learning. These will ensure that each child receives a rich educational experience that has both breadth and depth. Your daughter will have access to a varied curriculum of knowledge, skills and values. Eight principles underpin the framework for Junior Cycle. These inform the planning for, as well as the development and implementation of, Junior Cycle programmes in all schools. The eight key skills of Junior Cycle are:

Eight key skills permeate across the entire curriculum and are embedded in lessons.

Through engaging with the key skills students will:

  • be more actively engaged with learning
  • take greater ownership of their learning
  • have a critical engagement with digital technology
  • be encouraged to problem solve and think creatively

The twenty-four statements of learning describe what your daughter should know, understand and value having participated in Junior Cycle. Dominican College, Sion Hill, will ensure that all statements of learning feature in the programme offered to our students.

Assessment in Junior Cycle

From now on, Junior Cycle students will receive a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) instead of a Junior Certificate.

This JCPA will reflect a much wider range of your daughter’s achievements over the three years of Junior Cycle in Dominican College, Sion Hill. The JCPA will report on a number of areas, including:

  1. Subjects
  2. Classroom Based Assessments
  3. Short courses
  4. Other Learning Experiences


All subjects are being revised and updated. Each one will have its own specification replacing what was previously known as a syllabus. Each specification describes the learning that takes place as part of the student’s study of a subject in Junior Cycle. All new subject specifications have now been introduced. Students can study a maximum of 10 subjects for the JCPA.

Students will still sit state examinations in subjects at the end of their Junior Cycle. These will be graded differently. Instead of A, B, C, D, E, F and NG the following descriptors will now be used:

  • Distinction 90 to 100 %
  • Higher Merit 75 to 89 %
  • Merit 55 to 74 %
  • Achieved 40 to 54 %
  • Partially Achieved 20 to 39 %
  • (not graded) 0 to 19 %

New subject specifications are being implemented in schools on a phased basis:

Classroom Based Assessments

Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning and skills in ways not possible in a pen and paper examination, for example, their verbal communication and investigation skills. CBAs will be undertaken in subjects and will be facilitated by the classroom teacher during a defined time period within normal class time and to a national timetable. Students will complete one CBA in second year and one in third year.

Once the second CBA is completed students in third year will complete a written Assessment Task. This task, set by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), is undertaken during normal class time and will be sent to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for marking. The Assessment Task will be worth 10% of the overall mark in the case of most subjects. At the end of third year, students will sit the final SEC examination in June. CBAs will be reported on in the JCPA using the following descriptors:

  • Exceptional
  • Above Expectations
  • In Line with Expectations
  • Yet to Meet Expectations

Short Courses

Schools may offer short courses on their Junior Cycle programme. A short course is designed for approximately 100 hours of student engagement across two or three years of the Junior Cycle.

Other Learning Experiences

Students will have the opportunity to engage with a range of other learning experiences in Dominican College as part of their Junior Cycle Programme and these can be recorded on the JCPA.

Other learning experiences play a critical role in ensuring that students are provided with a broad and balanced educational experience. These may be in curricular, extra-curricular, volunteerism or school community based.

Our students could include their engagement in: (list is not exhaustive)
Junior St. Vincent de PaulChristmas Carol service
AliveSchool events
Public SpeakingSports
Maths WeekArts & Craft Club
Seachtain na GaeilgeSchool Bank
World Book DayHockey
Open night guideBasketball
Student CommitteesSoccer
Green SchoolsTag Rugby
BT Young ScientistAthletics
Your role in your CSPE Action ProjectMulti sports

Reporting in Junior Cycle

A new reporting structure at Junior Cycle will contribute to the personal and educational development of students. It will support and underpin ongoing learning and assessment. Reporting will:

  • Provide information to parents about their daughter’s achievement and progress in school
  • Support students in their learning by suggesting next steps or providing feedback to help students’ self-evaluation.