Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Howard from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brian Howard

Guidance Counsellor

Department of Education and Skills

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Brian Howard

This career involves working with people in a caring capacity. If you have no interest in helping people personally or educationally then this may be the wrong profession for you.

Empathy, patience and respect are important qualities for this job, in addition to be able to relate well to the person you are dealing with. As there is also a large amount of information to be handled in the job, good organisational, IT and time management skills are also quite important.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Changes to JC 2017-2019
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Changes to JC 2017-2019

A new Junior Certificate programme commenced delivery in schools in September 2014. Called the 'Junior Cycle Student Award' (JCSA), the main points of significance are as follows:

  • A cap  on the total number of subjects taken at Junior Certificate Level to eight
  • A new specification for Irish
  • A new specification for Modern Foreign Languages (including French, German, Spanish and Italian)
  • A new specification for Visual Art
  • The introduction of a new Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme
  • Revised Assessment arrangements
  • A new Junior Cycle Grading System
The focus is on 8 Key Skills to be embedded in the learning outcomes and appropriate to the age of the learner:

Key Changes for 2017/18 and 2018/19

During the three years of Junior Cycle, students will learn in a wide variety of ways, with a strong emphasis on key skills, literacy and numeracy.

Students will also get more detailed reports on their progress in junior cycle. The reports will look at how well they are doing in literacy and numeracy, and they will also be asked to comment on their own progress before the report is sent to their parents or guardian.

The big change is in the examinations. There will still be an examination at the end of junior cycle, in English for example (which is the first revised programme to be rolled-out), 40% of the marks will now be for work done before the Junior Cycle exam, in second and third year. So, not everything will depend on how students do in the final Junior Cycle exam.

The New Junior Cycle English Syllabus is available here.

In 2017, when Junior Cycle students come to the end of third year, they will be examined in six to eight subjects, depending on the number of short courses that have been taken. These will include the new course in English, any other new courses taken and any other Junior Certificate subjects the student is studying – all up to a limit of eight.

At the end of third year, students will receive a new qualification called the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA).

The following subjects will be introduced for all students starting first year in September 2017:

Subject Introduction date First recorded on JCPA
Irish September 2017 Autumn 2020

Modern Languages

(French, German, Spanish, Italian)

September 2017 Autumn 2020
Visual Art September 2017 Autumn 2020

Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme

In addition to the subjects above, a new area of learning entitled Wellbeing is being introduced for First Years from september 2017. Key components of this area of learning will include the following subjects/specifications:

  • Physical Education
  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) including Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and
  • Civil, Social and Political Education (CSPE).

Students' achievements in the area of Wellbeing will be recorded for the first time on the JCPA in Autumn 2020

The following subjects will be introduced for all students starting first year in September 2018:

Subject Introduction date First recorded on JCPA
Mathematics September 2018 Autumn 2021
Home Economics September 2018 Autumn 2021
Music September 2018 Autumn 2021
History September 2018 Autumn 2021
Geography September 2018 Autumn 2021

New Junior Cycle Grading System

For most new subjects there will be a written examination which will be set, administered and marked by the Stae Examinations Commission (SEC). The written exams will be two hours duration (max.) once the new specification has been introduced for the subject.

The final written exams will be held in the month of June in third year and will be at a common level, apart from English, Irish and Mathematics, where there will be two levels (higher and ordinary) available.

Student achievement in the Final Examinations will incorporate the results of the Assessment Task, also assessed by the SEC, or, in the case of the practical subjects, students’ achievement in the externally assessed practical component (artefact, practical work, or performance).

Achievement will now be recorded using a set of grades as follows:

Distinction  ≥90 to 100
Higher Merit   ≥75 and <90
Merit 55 and <75
Achieved ≥40 and <55
Partially Achieved ≥20 and <40
Not Graded (NG) ≥ 0 and < 20

These state certified grades will first be reported by the SEC in provisional form in September following the end of third year. They will subsequently be confirmed and included in the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) which is to issue from the school within the calendar year of the examination.

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