Short Courses

Planning - First Year

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 arrow_drop_down

    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 arrow_drop_down

    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

  • 3. Look at NCCA support materials for developing a short course arrow_drop_down

    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 arrow_drop_down

    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: 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 arrow_drop_down

    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