Junior Cycle

General Information

The Junior Cycle is a three-year programme, culminating in the state Junior Cycle Examination from which students receive their Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement, the Classroom Based Assessments results and an account of their Other Areas of Learning within the school.

There are eight fundamental principles:
• Learning to Learn
• Choice and flexibility
• Quality
• Creativity and innovation
• Engagement and participation
• Continuity and development
• Inclusive education
• Wellbeing

Throughout the Junior Cycle, students will acquire and enhance their proficiency in these six key skills. These will be brought to life through the learning experiences encountered by students and will be evident in the assessment approaches used in the classroom and in examinations.


Presentation Secondary School Castleisland offers a comprehensive range of subjects with small class sizes to benefit individual students. English, Gaeilge and Mathematics are taken at Higher Level or Ordinary Level, while all other subjects are common level. High quality teaching and learning is paramount and students are encouraged to work to the best of their ability at all times.

Core Subjects at Junior Cycle: Gaeilge, English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Religious Education, Science, Modern Foreign Languages (French or Spanish) and Wellbeing. The core subjects within Wellbeing are Physical Education, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Guidance and Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE).

Optional subjects at Junior Cycle: Business Studies, Home Economics, Music, Visual Art, Wood Technology, and Graphics.

First Year students are offered tasters of all optional subjects, including French and Spanish. At the beginning of January of first year, students will indicate which optional subjects they wish to pursue.

Module Details

  • English

    English aims to develop students’ knowledge of language and literature and to deepen their literacy skills. Students engage personally and think critically about a broad range of spoken, written and visual texts and create texts of their own. As their skills in using language expand, students’ communication skills improve and this empowers them to contribute to society as thoughtful active citizens.

  • Irish

    The aim of the Junior Cycle Irish programme is to consolidate and deepen students’ understanding of Irish. Students are enabled to communicate in an effective, interactive, and confident manner in formal and informal settings in the language community. Students are encouraged and empowered to take ownership of Irish and to enjoy their learning journey.

    Students are encouraged to:

    • Enjoy creative and innovative communication in Irish using all the language skills
    • Appreciate Irish and have a desire both to speak it and use it
    • Engage with a wide range of texts in various ways, for learning, research, and recreation
    • Have an appreciation and respect for literature in Irish so that they may enjoy literature and benefit from it
    • Develop a better understanding of Irish culture and have respect and understanding for other cultures and languages.
    • Participate in a wide range of learning activities throughout the year especially during Seachtain na Gaeilge

  • Mathematics

    The aim of Junior Cycle Mathematics is to provide relevant and challenging opportunities for all students to become mathematically proficient so that they can cope with the mathematical challenges of daily life and enable them to continue their study of Mathematics in senior cycle and beyond.

    There are five strands in the Junior Cycle specification:

    1. Statistics and Probability
    2. Geometry and Trigonometry
    3. Number
    4. Algebra
    5. Functions

    Students choose to study the Higher Level or the Ordinary Level course in Junior Cycle. Students complete CBA 1 in Second Year which comprises of a Mathematical Investigation. Students complete CBA 2 in Third Year which comprises of a Statistical Investigation. Students complete an Assessment Task in Third Year worth 10% of the final Junior Cycle grade.

  • Music

    In First Year, our students are given a general introduction to music from September to December. Emphasis is placed on developing listening skills in various musical genres. Students are encouraged to reflect on music styles that appeal to them. An awareness and appreciation of Irish music and orchestral music of the past and of the present is encouraged.

    There are three main strands to Junior Cycle Music:
    • Performing
    • Composing
    • Listening

    All students will prepare a performance on an instrument and/or voice, as a soloist or as part of a group. This is worth 30% of their overall grade at Junior Cycle. Students are encouraged to become involved in Choir, Trad Group or the Musical Society in order to hone their performance skills.
    Students are required to learn the basic elements of compositional technique to enable them to write melodies and harmonise melodies. Students are given opportunities to compose their own pieces.
    Students’ musicianship and aural skills are developed to recognise each of the elements of music and the various composers, eras, genres and instruments.

    Students will complete two CBAs – one in Second Year and one in Third Year and this contributes to 10% of their overall grade.

    There will be a final exam in June of Third Year which is worth 60% of their overall grade.

  • Visual Art

    Visual Art at Junior Cycle is a subject that promotes teaching and learning through art, craft and design. Making art develops the learner’s imagination through developing an idea or concept and allows them to exercise personal responsibility for specific tasks. Visual Art also recognises and rewards a number of different forms of intelligence and promotes divergent thinking and develops the learner’s ability to interpret, make judgements and express opinions on a work. It also promotes respect for the work and the opinions of others.

    The qualities that Visual Art develops in students are crucial components of a holistic education, such as creativity, critical judgement, working with others or working individually, providing and receiving constructive criticism, and respecting differences.

    Visual Art provides the learner with a space within which it is safe to experiment, to fail and to learn. It allows learners to collaborate on ideas and work and gives students the capacity to understand and to express ideas, feelings and opinions: both their own and those of others.

    These attributes are exercised through conceptual and practical mediums such as paint, print, sculpture, ceramics, modelling, casting, photography, animation and many other traditional and contemporary art forms.

  • Business Studies

    The Business Studies programme focuses on improving students’ understanding of the business environment and on developing skills for life, work and further study through three inter-connected strands:

    1. Personal Finance
    2. Enterprise, and
    3. Our Economy

    Business Studies helps students to make more informed decisions in the everyday business of living. It encourages them to think about how and why people start up in business and why students too might also consider becoming entrepreneurs. Our school develops close links with enterprises in the local community to ensure students can experience the world of business around them. We liaise extensively with the Kerry Local Enterprise Office and take part in the Student Enterprise Awards Competition each year. All First Year students partake and, in the past, have represented our school at County and National Finals. Our students have had the opportunity to appear on both RTÉ’s The Late Late Show and The Today Show, showcasing their enterprises.

    Students complete Classroom Based Assessments in both Second and Third year. An assessment task worth 10% of the Junior Cycle is completed in Third Year, with the final examination worth 90%.

  • Home Economics

    Home economics aims to develop students’ knowledge, attitudes, understanding, skills and values to achieve optimal, healthy and sustainable living for every person as an individual, and as a member of families and society. Students develop practical food and health literacy skills so that they are enabled to adopt a healthy lifestyle and make informed decisions that positively impact their health and wellbeing.

    Home economics nurtures students’ resourcefulness, innovation, adaptability, and competency as consumers. It develops students’ creative design and textile skills. Home economics develops students who are environmentally conscious and dedicated to a sustainable and responsible way of life.

    The three strands of study are:

    1. Food, health and culinary skills
    2. Responsible family living
    3. Textiles and craft

  • Modern Foreign Languages: French and Spanish

    In Presentation Castleisland, we offer two Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Spanish and French. Students have the opportunity to engage in written, oral and cultural activities, throughout the new Junior Cycle course.

    The oral element is promoted through presentations and other fun activities such as role plays, surveys and quizzes. Students partake in research projects on the cultural aspects of the languages, learning about the lives of their peers in countries where these languages are spoken. Other aspects of culture are also explored, like songs, sports, recipes, famous people and famous places.

  • Science

    Five strands (Nature of Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Space) are taught to all Junior Cycle Science students as a core subject. Science is a practical subject where experimentation takes place in two of our fully equipped Science laboratories.

    Students complete two Classroom Based Assessments during their Junior Cycle Science course.
    Incoming First Year students will have the opportunity to become STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) role models as part of our very exciting initiative with local primary schools.

    All students get the opportunity each year to participate in BT Young Scientist, Scifest, iWISH, VEX robotics, and STEM visits to 3rd level institutes and STEM companies.

    Fun activities are planned each year for Science Week, Engineering Week and Space Week. During these weeks, students get the opportunity to showcase their scientific skills that they have developed during that term.

    At Presentation Castleisland we foster and encourage the development of strong STEM skills and knowledge in the hope that student pursue STEM related careers later in life.

  • History

    Through History, we learn how people lived before us. We gain an understanding of how past events unfolded and what their causes and consequences were.

    Studying History helps us to understand how human experience has shaped our society and the world today. We can learn to recognise patterns of change and be inspired by people in the past. Students will also develop skills for life like the skills of writing, literacy and research. We will also be studying, analysing and researching our local history in which we can place ourselves in past human experience, linking the past, present and future.

  • Geography

    Geography is the study of the Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places, and environments. It empowers students to explore and understand the world around them. Engagement with the subject promotes a deep understanding of people and place. Students develop the skills to read their environment, enabling them to interpret the physical landscape, observe climatic events with an informed eye and discuss world events in a knowledgeable manner.

    Learning in geography supports students in making informed decisions, instilling the ability to make valuable contributions to the economic, social, and cultural life of their communities, localities and countries.

    Topics of note that are covered during Junior Cycle Geography are; earthquakes, volcanoes and land formation. How humans interact with our physical world is also touched upon, from human use and misuse of our natural resources, to the development of different societies throughout the world.

    This exploration of the planet will not be all teacher-led, as students will indeed undertake a number of individual projects too, in which they will get freedom to choose topics of their liking for exploration and analysis. Map skills, graph interpretation and construction as well as photograph depiction, are some of the many skills acquired throughout this course. Such psychomotor skills compliment the array of cognitive knowledge obtained throughout this eye opening and truly interesting geography course.

  • Religious Education

    Junior Cycle Religious Education focuses on developing knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values to enable young people to come to an understanding of religion and its relevance to life, relationships, society and the wider world. The course is built around three interconnecting strands: Expressing Beliefs, Exploring Questions and Living our Values.

    The students engage in two classroom based assessments which include:
    • 2nd Year – Person of Commitment
    • 3rd Year – The Human Search for Meaning

    Religious Education is lived out throughout the school year at our various liturgies, that form part of the liturgical calendar.

  • Physical Education

    Physical Education in our school comprises of a broad and varied programme. Students are introduced to the sports of badminton, tennis, hockey, indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball and GAA at Junior Cycle. Health related activity including yoga, circuits and kettlebells also feature. Dance, team challenges and athletics are popular introductory modules with our First-Year cohort, having students participating in different instructional models which include sport education. Physical Education students are challenged to fulfil their sporting potential, in addition to viewing physical activity as a positive and enriching aspect of their school life.

    The full list of sports covered in PE are as follows:
    1. Tennis
    2. Badminton
    3. Basketball
    4. Gaelic Football
    5. Soccer
    6. Camogie
    7. Hockey
    8. Dance
    9. Orienteering
    10. Volleyball
    11. Athletics
    HRA (Health Related Activity)
    12. Yoga
    13. Pilates
    14. Circuit Training
    15. Zumba
    16. Kettlebells (fifth year)
    17. Walking

  • Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE)

    The study of Civic, Social and Political Education allows the student to develop her knowledge, attitudes and skills on topics such as the role the government plays in shaping the lives of citizens, our relationship to society and to the communities to which we belong.

    We take responsibility for our planet and students will examine the importance of living sustainably in order to protect our environment and natural resources for future generations.

    CSPE also belongs to a new area of learning called Wellbeing which is about feeling well mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.

    When we have a strong sense of wellbeing, we can cope with the challenges presented by everyday life, live purposeful lives and have a sense of belonging to the wider community.

  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)

    Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) in junior cycle education supports the personal development, health and wellbeing of young people and helps them create and maintain supportive relationships.

    The aims of SPHE are to enable students to develop skills for self-fulfilment and living in communities, to promote self-esteem and self-confidence, to enable students to develop a framework for responsible decision-making, to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion and to promote physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

    The SPHE programme in our school reflects the unique ethos of the school. Our supportive whole school environment is one where people feel valued, self-esteem is fostered, fairness and tolerance are evident, high expectations are the norm, those having difficulty are supported, communication is open, effort is recognised, difference is valued, conflict is handled constructively, initiative and creativity is stressed and social, moral and civic values are promoted.


Classroom Based assessment (CBA)

The new Junior Cycle introduced classroom-based assessments to accurately assess the development of students’ skills, in the different subjects. Each subject has two classroom-based assessments. The first of these is completed in 2nd year, while the second is completed in 3rd year ,except for Irish where both CBAs are in 3rd year.

A particular purpose of the classroom-based assessments is to facilitate developmental feedback to students.

Priority Learning Units (PLU)

For a small group of students with special educational needs, priority learning units (PLUs) are provided. These units concentrate the attainment of the keyskills for this cohort of students.

Assessment Tasks

Student performance on the assessment task contributes 10% of their national examination results. The assessment task may require students to demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills developed during their second classroom-based assessment. It gives the students the opportunity to reflect and consider how they implemented the key skills in their completion of the 2nd classroom-based assessment.


The state examinations are drafted by the state examinations commission (SEC). Student performance on these examinations contributes 90% of their national examination results.


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 (JCPA). This will document the full range of the student’s learning achievements. They will include evidence of student’s achievements gathered over their 3 year cycle in the area of national examination results, classroom based assessments (CBA’s) and other areas of learning (OAL).