Junior Cycle

Click here for ASTI Directive on SLAR meetings.

Background to Junior Cycle dispute

In a ballot of ASTI members in September 2015, members voted to reject the document entitled “Junior Cycle Reform – Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation (including the appendix)” by 55% to 45%. 

Members also voted to continue industrial action up to and including strike action by 70% to 30%. 

In a parallel ballot, members of the TUI voted to accept the Junior Cycle Reform proposals. 

In a ballot of members in February, 2017, ASTI members rejected the 'Outcome of Talks' proposals on the Lansdowne Road Agreement and Junior Cycle reform.

Industrial Action

On September 25th, 2015, ASTI Standing Committee re-issued a previous Junior Cycle Framework Directive to Members. This Directive prohibited ASTI members from engaging with aspects of the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle, including attendance at CPD for the Framework and participation in any aspect of Classroom Based Assessment. This directive was suspended in June 2016.

Key outstanding issues

The main outstanding issue for the ASTI remains the scheduling of SLAR meetings. In November 2019, ASTI members voted by 93% to 7% that the ASTI issue a directive to members in relation to SLAR meetings.

See here for ASTI Directive on SLAR meetings

See here for advice to schools on Circular 0017/2020 and the scheduling of SLAR meetings 

Other issues

A web-based survey conducted by the ASTI in late 2018 found that more than half of teachers stated that preparing for and conducting Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) reduced their classroom teaching time. The survey also found that while almost 40% believed the in-service they received gave them a better understanding of the rationale for the Framework for Junior Cycle only 23% agreed that it had given them a better understanding of how to teach their subject specifications.

The survey targeted those who had already attended in-service and was completed by 764 teachers. A large minority of the respondents – 44% - stated that CBAs and Subject Assessment and Learning Review (SLAR) meetings have resulted in a reduction in extra-curricular activities for students; 56% stated that they had not.

In completing the survey respondents had contributed a significant number of additional comments regarding their experiences of the Framework. These comments indicate that teachers share a number of key concerns, including:

  • teachers are not convinced that the Framework will create better educational outcomes or maintain standards.
  • teacher workload has increased in a number of ways, for example, the specifications subject model with reduced information on subject content, learning outcomes and key skills has resulted in much greater planning work for teachers, who feel that they now have to develop their own resources to supplement the specified course content. The lack of support material in the form of lesson plans, templates for units of study/learning outcomes, and the non-availability of sample questions until late in third year has also exacerbated workload.
  • many teachers experienced the revised specifications as ‘rushed’, and
  • teachers expressed the need for more and better in-service.


The ASTI has presented the survey results to the Departmental Junior Cycle Implementation Group. The ASTI has also met with the Director and other members of the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) team to communicate teachers’ concerns and the need to improve the overall quality and delivery of in-service.

Click below for information: 

  • Click here for ASTI Directive on SLAR meetings.
  • Click here for 'Teachers' Voice, Report of a 2018 ASTI Survey on the Implementation of Framework for Junior Cycle'.
  • Click here for ASTI advice on implementation of Junior Cycle.
  • Click here for ASTI poster ASTI Implementation Declaration on SLAR meetings.
  • Click here for Junior Cycle Reform: Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation and Appendix to Joint Statement.
  • Click here for Statement of Assurances 29 November 2016 (available in Outcome of DES and ASTI Discussions - November, 2016).
  • Click here for Framework for Junior Cycle 2015.
  • Click here for Department of Education clarifications to ASTI, December 2015.

 

Junior Cycle: Academic/ reference material

Click here to view ASTI publication Teachers’ Voice.

Click here to view Teachers as Curriculum Developers by  Professor Mark Priestly, University of Stirling. 

Click here to read 'A Teacher's perspective on the Junior Cycle Reform Proposals' - Margaret Kent, M.Ed. (Chairperson, ASTI Education Committee).

Click here to read Paper by Dr. Geraldine Mooney Simmie, Lecture in Education, University of Limerick.

Click here to read Presentation by Dr. Pádraig Hogan, National University of Ireland, Maynooth entitled 'Curriculum change and Teachers' Professional Practice: Identifying Possibilities and Tensions.

For further information contact info@asti.ie. 

Junior Cycle  reform – What you need to know

On Saturday, June 10th, a ASTI Special Convention passed a motion to suspend industrial action on the Lansdowne Road Agreement and Junior Cycle reform. On November 8th, ASTI Central Executive Council voted to continue the suspension of industrial action pending the outcome of talks on new entrant pay.

As a result of the suspension of industrial action, ASTI members must co-operate with all aspects of the Framework for Junior Cycle.

Implementation of subjects / areas

Introduced to 1st Year Students in:

Other areas

Subjects

First recorded in JCPA in:

 

September 2014

 

English

Autumn 2017

 

September 2016

 

 

Science and Business Studies

 

Autumn 2019

 

September 2017

 

Wellbeing

Irish, Modern Languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian) and Art, Craft & Design

Autumn 2020

 

September 2018

 

Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Music and Geography

Autumn 2021

September 2019

 

Technology Subjects (Materials Technology/Wood, Technical Graphics, Metalwork, Technology), Religious Education, Jewish Studies and Classics

Autumn 2022

Subject Specifications / Short Courses / Priority Learning Units: For each of the subjects to be taught at Junior Cycle, specifications are developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and approved by the Minister.

The Framework for Junior Cycle provides that students will study: a range of subjects or a combination of subjects and short courses or in the case of some individual students with special education needs, a combination of priority learning units, and/or short courses and/or subjects, suited to their individual needs. All students will participate in the Wellbeing Programme.

Assessment: A new dual approach to assessment has been introduced:

Subjects will be assessed through two Classroom-Based Assessments (one in second year and one in third year), reported on to parents/guardians by the school, an Assessment Task (marked by the SEC), and a Final Examination set and marked by the SEC.

The combination of the Assessment Task and the Final Examination, marked and awarded by the SEC, will generate a grade.

Classroom-Based Assessments: Students will undertake two Classroom-Based Assessments facilitated by their teacher, one in second year and one in third year.

For Classroom-Based Assessments, students will be awarded one of four level descriptors: Exceptional, Above Expectations, In Line with Expectations or Yet to Meet Expectations.

Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings (SLARs): These meetings are held to support teachers in assessing students’ Classroom-Based Assessments. At these meetings, teachers will share and discuss representative samples of students’ work and will build a common understanding about the quality of their students’ learning. Since such meetings can only take place when the relevant subject teachers are present, a limited number of meetings may need to draw on teachers’ bundled time to run beyond normal school tuition hours for some of the duration of the meeting. A SLAR meeting should not exceed 2 hours. SLAR meetings should take place in May after the first Classroom Based Assessment for 2nd year students and in December after the second Classroom Based Assessment for 3rd year students.

Assessment Task: The Assessment Task will be completed in class under the supervision of the teacher in accordance with a timeframe and guidance from the NCCA and SEC. The Assessment Task is based on activities to be completed by students as part of their study of the particular subject specification. The Assessment Task will be returned to the SEC for marking.

Written Examination: For most subjects there will be a written examination which will be set, administered and marked by the SEC. Final written examinations will be held in the month of June in third year. Student achievement in the final examinations will incorporate the results of the Assessment Task.

Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA): Before the end of the first term following the completion of the Junior Cycle, each student will receive a composite Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement from his/her school. The JCPA will report student achievement across a range of areas of learning in Junior Cycle, including: -

 

  • SEC Final Examinations (including the Assessment Tasks);
  • Classroom-Based Assessments descriptors;
  • Level 2 Learning Programmes (L2LPs) (where appropriate);
  • The area of Wellbeing (from 2020);
  • Other areas of learning.

CPD for School Leaders and Teachers: CPD provision for school leaders and teachers will include the following:

CPD for school leaders during the phased implementation period;

Whole school professional support during the course of the phased implementation period; Subject specific CPD available to all subject teachers over time.;

CPD will be delivered by the DES CPD service, Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT).

Professional Time: Teachers are being provided with professional time to engage in a range of professional collaborative activities, a proportion of which will involve collaboration with teaching colleagues, to support teaching, learning and assessment. These are set out as follows: 

  1. Whole-school professional activities to support the junior cycle
  2. Individual teacher and subject department professional time for activities, including activities related to formative assessment, feedback, reporting and inputs being compiled for the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA)
  3. Attendance at Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings
  4. Preparation for, and overseeing the outcomes of Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings
  5. Administration of the Assessment Tasks in classrooms.


Individual Teachers Professional Time:

From September 2017, professional time has been made available to teachers involved in the delivery of Junior Cycle, on a pro rata basis, to support the new curriculum and assessment arrangements.

Paragraph 3.2.2 of CL 0015/2017 gives a clear exposition of how such time may be used.

“The 40 minute professional time period provided within timetable is available to teachers on the basis that they will use this time flexibly including bundling time periods and carrying forward time to facilitate professional collaboration. Teachers may also use the time periods for individual planning, feedback or reporting activities relating to Junior Cycle. In particular, time periods will need to be bundled to facilitate Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) meetings. Since professional collaboration meetings can only be held when the relevant subject teachers can be present, a limited number of meetings may need to draw on teachers’ bundled time to run beyond normal school tuition hours for some of the duration of the meeting. A SLAR meeting should take place in one two-hour session. This flexibility will be required for and will generally be restricted to the organisation of SLAR meetings.

The deployment of all professional time is a matter for the management of the school acting in accordance with the terms of this Circular Letter. All time periods provided to support implementation of the Junior Cycle must be used for this purpose under the overall direction of the school’s management.”

Management Resources:

Extra hours have also been allocated to schools on an interim basis to help with the facilitation of this additional work associated with the introduction of the new programme.

This additional time allocation is in the form of weekly coordination hours and can be drawn down over the school year.

Click here for poster.

See here for FAQs on Junior Cycle.

Framework for Junior Cycle
Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation and Appendix to the Joint Statement
Junior Cycle Reform - Statement of Assurances (29 November, 2016) (Page 9)