Welcome


Michael Carey
Michael Carey
Team Leader
Short Courses

Welcome to the Short Courses section of Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) website.

Introduction to Short Courses

During junior cycle, a student will learn through a number of subjects or a combination of subjects and short courses. Through these curricular components, schools will ensure that all statements of learning and the eight key skills feature in the programmes offered to their students.

Each short course will require 100 hours of student engagement, will be assessed through Classroom-Based Assessment, and will be reported upon to parents/guardians and students by the school.

It is not intended that short courses would replace existing subjects, but their inclusion will allow a school to broaden the range of learning experiences for students, address their interests and encompass areas of learning not covered by the combination of curricular subjects available in the school.

Schools may opt to include short courses developed by the NCCA, or alternatively, short courses that have been developed either by the school or another organisation in accordance with a template and guidelines set out by the NCCA.

Short courses are also a key feature of the Level Two Learning Programmes (L2LPs) and form part of the Junior Cycle pathway for students at that level.

JCT is delighted to support schools and teachers of short courses by facilitating CPD activities to support their introduction. These activities include core workshops which will focus initially on supporting schools in their consideration of short courses. JCT will also be involved in the roll-out of various elective workshops and carefully designed online supports to assist teachers over the coming months and years. Also, an informative short course newsletter ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ is available each month.

If you require any further information, please contact me michael.carey@jct.ie or submit your query to
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Latest News

March 2017

JCT are delighted to announce a new two-year initiative, entitled Junior Cycle Coding in Action. It will build on the success and learning from out pilot CPD initiative, Exploring Coding, which ran from Jan 2016 – Feb 2017

This new initiative is designed to support schools who are committed to introducing the short course in Coding within their Junior Cycle programme. We are delighted to have both Intel Ireland and Lero – The Irish Software Research Centre – continuing to collaborate with us on this innovative initiative.

There is a limit to the number of schools that can engage in this initiative. In order to participate, a school must complete the online Expression of Interest form below. The closing date for expressions of interest is 4.00pm on Friday 28th April 2017.

Detail of the initiative is contained within Resources section of this page.


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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q1. What are short courses?

    During junior cycle, a student will learn through a number of subjects, or a combination of subjects and short courses. Therefore, schools may offer students the opportunity to take a small number of short courses.

    Each short course will require 100 hours of student engagement, will be assessed through Classroom-Based Assessment, and will be reported upon to parents/guardians and students by the school.

    The inclusion of short courses can allow a school the flexibility to broaden the range of learning experiences for students, address their interests and encompass areas of learning not covered by the combination of curricular subjects available in the school. However, it is not intended that short courses would replace existing subjects.

    Schools may opt to include short courses developed by the NCCA, or alternatively, short courses that have been developed either by the school or another organisation in accordance with a template and guidelines set out by the NCCA.

    Short courses are also a key feature of the Level Two Learning Programmes (L2LPs) and form part of the Junior Cycle pathway for students at that level.

  • Q2. Why have short courses been developed?

    Short courses have been developed to offer more flexibility to school. Schools asked for opportunities within their junior cycle programme to connect to their communities, to consolidate and strengthen aspects of student learning to include new and different learning experiences and ICT in the junior cycle experience.

  • Q3. What opportunities do short courses offer for schools and students?

    As schools plan their junior cycle programme using the Framework, the short course is a component which can add great value to the experience and the learning of junior cycle students

    The inclusion of short courses offer:

    • greater flexibility to broaden the learning experiences

    • increased student choice which address interests and needs

    • possibilities to connect with the local community

    • potential for new and different learning experiences

    • formal ways to recognise a wider range of student achievement

    • opportunities to incorporate school events and activities of value

  • Q4. How will short courses be assessed?

    In short courses, as with other curriculum components, the main purpose of assessment is to support student learning. It is expected that most of the assessment activities during the teaching of short courses will be formative in nature.

    For summative assessment purposes, the evidence of learning will be generated according to the short course specification and will relate directly to the aims and learning outcomes of the short course. There will be no more than two Classroom-Based Assessments involved and the achievement of students will be described using a nationally determined common set of descriptors. Short courses will be assessed by the students’ teachers and reported on to students and parents/guardians during junior cycle and in the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA).

    The changes to learning and assessment envisaged in the new Junior Cycle will support continuity and progression in students’ learning experiences as they move from primary to post-primary school. The flexibility that schools have to design their junior cycle programmes, particularly in the first year of the programme, will support students in experiencing a successful transition. To accommodate this flexibility, achievements in first year will not be reported on for the purposes of the JCPA.

  • Q5. Where can I find examples of short courses?

    The NCCA has developed nine short courses for schools to use on an optional basis to support students’ learning in relation to various statements of learning.

    There are eight short courses which are broadly aligned with Level 3 of the NFQ.

    • Civic, Social and Personal Education

    • Social Personal and Health Education

    • Physical Education

    • Coding

    • Digital Media Literacy

    • Artistic Performance

    • Chinese Language and Culture

    • Philosophy

    There are three short courses which have been designed to complement the Level 2 Learning Programmes

    • A Personal Project: Caring for Animals

    • Exploring Forensic Science

    • Enterprise and Animation

    These can be viewed here…

  • Q6. What is the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 Short Courses?

    The terms Level 2 and Level 3 are based on the the National Framework of Qualifications which is available here…

    In general, subjects and short courses are broadly aligned with Level 3 of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and these are appropriate for the majority of students at Junior Cycle.

    However, as part of the new Junior Cycle, schools can now include programmes called Level 2 Learning Programmes (L2LPs) which are designed for a small number of students with particular special educational needs. L2LPs are designed for students with general learning disabilities in the higher functioning moderate and low functioning mild categories. The special needs of these students may prevent them from accessing some or all of the subjects and short courses on offer at junior cycle that are broadly aligned with Level 3 NFQ. Such students may be attending either a mainstream school or a special school.

    L2LP students will experience Priority Learning Units (PLUs) and short courses that are broadly aligned with Level 2 of the NFQ. All achievements in PLUs and short courses will be reported in the JCPA.

    More information of L2LPs is available here…

  • Q7. Can a school design its own short course?

    Schools may opt to include short courses developed by the NCCA, or alternatively, short courses that have been developed either by the school or another organisation in accordance with a template and guidelines set out by the NCCA. Short courses can be developed by schools to suit the specific needs and interests of their students. Schools who have developed their own short courses report that it is a rewarding process but that it takes time. NCCA’s experience of working with schools has shown that it could take up to 12 months to develop a short course. More information is available here…

  • Q8. What supports will JCT provide regarding short courses?

    JCT will support schools and teachers of short courses by facilitating CPD activities to support their introduction.

    As part of the JCT Whole School CPD supports, an optional workshop on short courses will be offered to schools to include as part of their whole-school CPD day.

    As part of the JCT Leadership CPD, information on short courses will be provided to school leaders.

    Short Course specific activities include core workshops which will focus initially on supporting schools in their consideration of short courses. JCT will also be involved in the roll-out of various elective workshops and carefully designed online supports to assist teachers in the coming months and years. Feedback from teachers will inform our work and it is envisaged that elective workshops will be provided to assist teachers who identify particular needs.

    Also, an informative short course newsletter ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ is available on a number of occasions each year. It provides up-to-date and relevant information on short courses.

    You can register for ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ here…

  • Q9. Are there supports in place for schools who wish to develop short courses?

    Yes. The NCCA will offer supports to schools that wish to develop short courses. Valuable advice, as well as a template and guidelines for short course development are available here…

    The NCCA will provide guidance and advice on the development of one short course per school at three key stages of the development:

    • After the scoping document has been completed

    • After draft one of the short course has been written, taking into account the NCCA feedback on the scoping document

    • After draft two has been written, again taking account of NCCA feedback

  • Q10. What are the first steps that my school should take with regard to short courses?

    The first steps which schools should take involve

    • becoming familiar with A Framework for Junior Cycle here…

    • Take a look at NCCA-developed short courses to see how the guidelines and template have been used to develop these short courses. They are available here…

    • Read the one-page NCCA document entitled Thinking about Short Courses here…

    It is important that school and teachers engage with the short course supports provided by JCT and the NCCA. This will enable schools recognise the potential contribution that short courses can make within junior cycle education. (see Q.11 below)

    Planning for short courses is a whole-school activity and it is important for schools to consider them within the entire junior cycle programme which they offer their students. Support for this process will be offered by the JCT.

  • Q11. Are short courses compulsory?

    Short courses are not compulsory. During the junior cycle, a student will learn through a number of subjects or a combination of subjects and short courses. Therefore, schools may offer students the opportunity to take a small number of short courses.

    Schools need to plan very carefully how they will provide access to the 24 statements of learning for their students. During school self-evaluation, or when parents or the Department of Education read the school’s junior cycle programme, the provision of access to the statements of learning will be an important factor. Curriculum components, like short courses, can assist schools in meeting this requirement.

    When the question ‘what will be different about the new junior cycle?’ is raised, one of the responses is, that it offers schools exciting new possibilities to plan learning programmes that are varied and interesting for students. By providing a range of subjects and short courses which appeal to and challenge students, there is a greater likelihood of students engaging more fully in their learning and assessment.

  • Q12. How may short courses can a student undertake?

    A school may offer a maximum of four short courses, in addition to the area of learning entitled Wellbeing.

  • Q13. What is the status of the existing syllabi for CSPE, SPHE and PE?

    Between now and the implementation of the learning area of Wellbeing in 2017, schools have two options with regard to these areas.

    The existing syllabi in CSPE, SPHE and PE are still available to use and many schools may choose to include them in their junior cycle programme. The current Junior Certificate examination in CSPE will be retained until June 2019.

    Or

    Short courses, developed by the NCCA, for CSPE, SPHE and PE are available for schools to include in their junior cycle programme.

  • Q14. How can I register for JCT Short Course CPD opportunities?

    Registration for participation in JCT CPD events occurs at school level. JCT has a dedicated portal, www.jctregistration.ie where school principals can register their teachers for our CPD events. Principals will be informed of how and when to do so, and we advise teachers to speak to their school principals regarding attendance at CPD.

    A number of elective CPD activities will also take place. Teachers can keep informed of these activities via the JCT website or by joining the JCT newsletter ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ here…

Planning

Planning for short courses is a whole-school activity and it is important for schools to consider them within the entire junior cycle programme which they offer their students.

As schools plan a junior cycle programme using the Framework, the short course is a component which can add great value to the experience and the learning of junior cycle students

The inclusion of short courses offers opportunities for:

• greater autonomy and flexibility for schools
• schools and students to connect to their communities
• the inclusion of new and different learning experiences, and formal ways to recognise and certify achievement
• creativity in relation to curriculum design and the formal incorporation of existing and worthwhile school events and activities
• a broader, motivating range of educational experiences for students
• the building of expertise in curriculum development, for teachers and schools
• validation and recognition of good practice
• a bank of courses that can be adapted and/or shared

Planning for short courses as part of the junior cycle programme involves a five-step process:


  • > 1. Read and Research
    Click to open/close


    1. Read and Research
    • Read JCT document ‘Planning for Short Courses’

    • Ensure familiarity with A Framework for Junior Cycle

    • Take a look at NCCA-developed short courses to see how the guidelines and template have been used to develop these short courses.

    • Read the one-page document entitled Thinking about Short Courses



  • 2. Consider the needs of your students, and the school context
    • Consider short courses within the context of your school and the needs and interests of your students

    • Consult with staff, students, parents, related subject departments and others about short courses

    JCT has developed support documents which you may choose to use during this step



  • If at this stage, your school wishes to develop a short course:

    3. Look at NCCA support materials for developing a short course
    • Read the NCCA Guidelines for developing short courses for Level 2 and/or Level 3 and the Level 2 template and/or Level 3 template

    • Look at the NCCA-developed short courses as exemplars

    At this stage, please consider this key advice

    • The NCCA will provide guidance and advice on the development of one short course per school at three key stages of the development:

    1. After the scoping document has been completed
    2. After draft one of the short course has been written, taking into account the NCCA feedback on the scoping document
    3. After draft two has been written, again taking account of NCCA feedback
    • In developing short courses, schools may devise some completely ‘from scratch’ or they may decide to work with external agencies such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or statutory bodies in the development of them

    • It is a good idea to pilot the short course - or parts of it - with a small group of students and evaluate its success before offering it to a larger group

    • Schools that have developed their own short courses report that it is a rewarding process but that it takes time. Our experience of working with schools has shown that it could take up to 12 months to develop a short course

    • It is best to develop a short course in collaboration with others as this allows for discussion and sharing of the planning tasks. It also develops the capacity of the teachers involved to teach the short course when it is developed

    • Schools are advised to access the Support for Short Course Development provided by the NCCA, as outlined in the following two steps and the Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) Support Service

  • > 4. Use the Scoping Document
    Click to open/close


    4. Use the Scoping Document
    • Now you are ready to develop the short course scoping document for Level 2 and/or Level 3 where you bring together all the big ideas for this course in consultation with relevant others in your school community.

    • The school principal submits the short course to the NCCA via email to: shortcourse@ncca.ie for review and advice BEFORE you go any further with the process. The submission form at the front of the scoping document and the completed document itself should not be longer than seven pages



  • 5. Develop, Reflect and Refine
    • The school uses the NCCA advice in developing a first draft of the short course and this is submitted to the same email address by the school principal

    • The NCCA will review the draft and again the school uses this advice to develop a final draft

    • The school writes the final draft and it is submitted for final review to the NCCA

Assessment Materials

Assessment

In short courses, as with other curriculum components, the main purpose of assessment is to support student learning. Assessment is both formative and summative. Assessment approaches which are recommended for formative assessment are:

In formative assessment, students can be supported and challenged to improve their learning using the success criteria for the different tasks. Assessment approaches which are recommended for formative assessment are:

  • Sharing learning intentions

  • Developing success criteria

  • Students reflecting on their learning

  • Effective questioning

  • Formative feedback

  • Peer and self-assessment

Effective ongoing assessment can:

  • Encourage and challenge students’ learning

  • Motivate and engage students

  • Help planning for next steps in teaching and learning

The NCCA will shortly be adding to the ‘Assessment and Moderation Toolkit’, which will include examples of a variety of approaches to formative assessment, and is available here

Details of potential summative assessment tasks are included in the ‘Assessment and Certification’ section of each short course. These tasks may be used for certification and/or reporting purposes. With regard to summative assessment for certification purposes, the following points are relevant

  • Assessment will be school based

  • No more than two assessment components can be submitted for certification purposes

  • All assessment tasks for certification purposes must take place in second and third year

It is notable here also that Schools may choose to incorporate short courses into their junior cycle programme either for certification purposes or not for certification, they may include short courses as other learning experiences.

  • >
    Click to open/close

    This area is under construction



Resources

  • JCT are delighted to announce a new two-year initiative, entitled Junior Cycle Coding in Action. It will build on the success and learning from out pilot CPD initiative, Exploring Coding, which ran from Jan 2016 – Feb 2017

    This new initiative is designed to support schools who are committed to introducing the short course in Coding within their Junior Cycle programme. We are delighted to have both Intel Ireland and Lero – The Irish Software Research Centre – continuing to collaborate with us on this innovative initiative. Detail of the initiative is contained within the below letter to school as well as the Junior Cycle Coding in Action brochure.

    There is a limit to the number of schools that can engage in this initiative. In order to participate, a school must complete the online Expression of Interest form below. The closing date for expressions of interest is 4.00pm on Friday 28th April 2017.



    Coding Letter

    Click on image to view Letter


    Coding Brochure

    Click on image to view Brochure







  • 'Exploring Coding' - A collaborative CPD initiative

    ‘Exploring Coding’ - A collaborative CPD initiative

    NO FEE INTEL CODER TEACHERS
    NO FEE INTEL ST.BRIGIDS COLLEGE
    Coder image
    Coding brochure

    Project Brochure
    Click on image to view






  • Resources Level 2

    Resources Level 2
    Click on image to view

    JCT Group

    JCT Group

    Final Report

    L2 Final Report
    Click on image to view

  • > NCCA-developed Short Courses
    Click to open/close


    NCCA-developed Short Courses

    The NCCA has developed nine short courses for schools to use on an optional basis to support students’ learning in relation to various statements of learning. Two of these short courses were designed as examples of Level 2 Short Courses

    • A Personal Project: Caring for Animals

    • Exploring Forensic Science

    The remaining seven were designed as examples of Level 3 Short Courses - three of which are based around existing subject areas within schools

    • Civic, Social and Personal Education

    • Social Personal and Health Education

    • Physical Education

    A further two are examples of ICT related short courses

    • Coding

    • Digital Media Literacy

    The remaining are examples of short courses which a school may develop to allow access and accreditation in a new area of learning.

    • Artistic Performance

    • Chinese Language and Culture

    These can be viewed here



  • JCT ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ Newsletter

    A JCT newsletter called ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ is published monthly. It provides up-to-date and relevant information for those interested in short courses. You can register for ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ here

    You can view current and previous editions of ‘Short Courses in the Spotlight’ by clicking on "News/Events" tab above.



  • Considering Short Courses within our School

    Helpful resources are being developed currently, and will be available here in the near future



  • NCCA Short Course Development Materials

    The documents provided below are aligned in conjunction with the document ‘Planning for Short Courses’

    Step 1
    A Framework for Junior Cycle
    Thinking about Short Courses
    NCCA Developed Short Courses are available at the top of this page

    Step 2
    Considering short courses within our school is available in the previous section

    Step 3
    Level 2 Short Course Planning Template
    Level 2 Short Course Writing Guidelines

    Level 3 Short Course Planning Template
    Level 3 Short Course Writing Guidelines

    Step 4
    Level 2 Short Course Scoping Document Level 3 Short Course Scoping Document



  • School and Agencies that are developing Short Courses

    This database is being developed currently, and will be available here in the near future