The nuts and bolts of the new Junior Cert


How the new Junior Cert will work


Ballygonarra Community School, Co Cork

Ballygonarra is a rural voluntary school, under the trusteeship of a Catholic organisation, with a population of 600 pupils. Many of the children are from farming backgrounds. The school decided to include eight subjects for certification.

First year

Irish, English, maths and science are obligatory. All students take French or German. History, geography, woodwork, metalwork, technical graphics, business, home economics, and art are also on the syllabus.

All students take a mandatory computer programming course which runs throughout first year. Students then take part in two themed modules that reflect learning in the key skills.

The module Food from Start to Finish runs until Christmas. Students learn about food science, the food business, environmental science, cooking and molecular gastronomy, where food comes from, and the history of food. Students can continue the course in second year.

The second short course, Create, is a project-based class where students, working in teams, are challenged to write a piece of creative fiction, which they must also adapt into a dramatic performance, a dance piece and a work of visual art.

Second and third year

In second year, students choose two short courses from a list of four which will take them through to the end of third year. These include the Food from Start to Finish module and a Chinese language course, with teachers provided free of charge by the UCC Confucius Institute.

The third course draws hugely from the NCCA’s physical education short-course syllabus, and focuses in particular on learning to be a confident and competent performer in a range of sports and building a commitment to participate in regular physical activity.

Finally, in a fourth course, entitled The Bally Bugle students, in collaboration with the local newspaper, produce a monthly publication that contains news, features, opinion pieces, sport, fiction, photography, cartoons and art. Students also learn about design and computer programming on this course.


The Nations College, Dublin 3

The Nations College is a private, co-educational school in south inner-city Dublin with just over 1,000 students.

First year

Only four full subjects, Irish, English, maths and science, are taken in first year. CSPE, SPHE, and PE are also taken. Students take tasters of history, classics, geography, home economics, business and music. All first-year students take a European language module. A 16-week thematic module, Energy, looks at issues such as global energy issues, including food supply.

Our Community, Our City is a module that includes tourism, history, local heritage, and local politics.

Computer technology and materials technology are both provided. Students choose between a module that looks at how maths underpins all aspects of life and the universe, or speech and drama.

Second and third year

English, Irish, maths, science and a European language are compulsory. Students then choose three subjects from an extensive list.

The school offers four short courses.

Me in the World is compulsory. It includes elements of career guidance, personal development, health education, and sports.

Students then have a choice of three short courses from a list of six.

Discovery looks at the great explorers of our planet and of the universe, past and present. Over three class periods a week, the course incorporates history and geography, folklore, religion, mythology,science about the cosmos; literature about explorers including science fiction; and cutting-edge contemporary astrophysics or marine biology.

The school has traditionally placed a large emphasis on social justice. The Social Justice short course includes elements of religion, development studies, geography, history, politics and debating.

A short course, Creative Arts, is a modification of the NCCA’s Artistic Performance course.

Students can take a course in Journalism, Broadcasting and Social Media, devised in partnership with RTÉ and The Irish Times, where they learn about researching, writing, reporting, production, editing and presenting, as well as social media.

Students have two more options: business, enterprise and finance, in which they use online tools to create a fantasy portfolio of businesses, stocks, and shares, or a course on computer programming and Coding, which was devised by the NCCA.

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