The Junior Certificate School Programme is a national programme sponsored by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).
The JCSP is not an alternative to the Junior Certificate….it is a support framework to it. All students in the Junior Certificate School Programme sit the mainstream Junior Certificate Examination, along with their peers. However, at the end of their Third Year, students in the JCSP also get an official record of their achievements, (which is validated by the Department of Education and Skills), along with a reference from the school.i.e. a Student Profile.
The JCSP is based on the concept that all young people are capable of achieving real success in school and that they can have a positive experience of education, if the conditions are favourable. The approach of the JCSP focuses on analysing students’ learning strengths and needs, planning a suitable programme of work building on students’ abilities and addressing the main obstacles hindering progress. The JCSP places a strong emphasis on the development of students’ basic skills, in particular their literacy and numeracy skills.
The purpose of the Junior Certificate School Programme is to enable students to:
- achieve greater success in school.
- improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
- engage with the curriculum.
- become more involved in their own learning, by tracking their progress.
- improve their attendance records.
- develop a positive self image.
- become more confident learners.
- enjoy learning.
- achieve a final positive record of achievement.
- stay in education for longer.
While the programme can vary from school to school….it will consist of the following:
- Subject- Specific Statements and Cross-Curricular Statements
- Literacy and Numeracy Initiatives
- Recording Achievements, Profiling and Certification
- Rewards and Celebrations.
Junior Certificate subjects are broken down into statements and students complete as many of these statements as possible, during the three years, prior to doing their Junior Certificate Examination.
A statement describes a particular area of knowledge, a concept or a skill in a subject area. It states what a student knows, understands or ‘can do’. Statements may be subject-specific or cross-curricular in nature. All statements are further broken down into learning targets, i.e. specific short-term goals. In this way, the entire syllabus is divided into short-term achievable goals. This step-by-step approach enables students to successfully complete smaller units of work, thereby motivating them to attempt the next unit of work and encouraging them to become more effectively involved in their own learning. By completing these statements with their teachers, students build up their own JCSP Student Profile throughout their Junior Cycle.
All JCSP statements are broken up into a number of smaller units called learning targets. These learning targets outline the steps to be followed/the material to be covered if a student is to achieve the long-term goal, i.e. the statement.
On completion of these specific short-term goals (learning targets), the student is awarded the statement in question and it is placed in his/her Student Folder.
The JCSP offers funding for initiatives in extra-curricular activities and for promoting literacy and numeracy. The purpose of such literacy and numeracy initiatives is to develop each student’s experience and competency in reading, writing, oral language skills and maths. Celebrating students’ achievements and success in these initiatives is an integral part of the JCSP….when students are rewarded with gift tokens, certificates, awards, trips, etc. The following are some of the initiatives that have been successfully run here in Kilrush Community School:
- Reading Challenge
- Book Review
- Flashmaster Maths
- Paired Reading
- Christmas Celebration
- Drop Everything and Read
- Maths Laboratory
- Author in Residence
- Film Making
- Summer Celebration.
At the core of the Junior Certificate School Programme is a profiling system, which facilitates teachers in monitoring and recording students’ progress and achievements. The profiling system comprises of a series of statements, each affirming what a student can do, knows or understands, i.e. it is a process of gathering positive information about what the student has achieved. In Kilrush Community School, Profile Meetings are held each term. During these meetings, the JCSP Core Team considers the awarding of statements to individual students. Final profiling occurs towards the end of Third Year….when a decision is made on the total list of statements to be awarded to each student. This information is then sent to the JCSP Head Office.
Awards Ceremony and Certification
Certificates are awarded for outstanding efforts during the three years of the Junior Certificate School Programme and these certificates are kept in students’ individual folders. Postcards are also posted home in recognition of efforts made by students so that parents are aware of their son/daughter’s progress. In addition to this, award stickers are stuck into students’ journals/copies, in recognition of good work.
The JCSP Graduation Ceremony, in Kilrush Community School, is held for students at the end of their Third Year. This Awards Ceremony is attended by the Third Year JCSP students, their parents, the Principal & Deputy Principal, members of staff and also special guests.
During this ceremony, students are presented with their Student Profile which, as previously mentioned, has been validated by the Department of Education and Science. This profile is an official record of their achievements over the course of the three years….& is a very valuable document.
Each Student Profile consists of:
- A Certificate of Participation from the Department of Education and Science.
- A reference from the school-which is signed by both the Programme Coordinator and the Principal.
- An official list of the statements successfully completed.
Therefore, in Kilrush Community School, students in the JCSP follow the same subject syllabi and are assessed in the same way as their Junior Cycle peers in the Junior Certificate Examinations, i.e. they gain a Junior Certificate outlining their achievements in the subjects taken. However, in addition to this, students in the JCSP also receive a Student Profile.
Kilrush Community School places a very high value on the close contact that it has with all parents. The Home School Community Liaison Officer provides very valuable support to parents of students participating in the Junior Certificate School Programme and throughout the school year, contact between home and school takes place through the HSCL Officer, the School Completion Programme Coordinator, the Programme Coordinator, the use of JCSP postcards, the use of student journals, at Parent/Teacher Meetings, etc.
Parents are encouraged to get involved in their child’s Junior Certificate and to work with the school by:
- encouraging good attendance, punctuality and
- getting involved when JCSP events and activities are taking place.
- praising their child as he/she makes.
Here, in Kilrush Community School, we strive to ensure that all parents feel free to contact the school on any matter concerning their child and are encouraged to take as active a part as possible in their child’s education.
For more information on the Junior Certificate School Programme, please visit the JCSP website www.jcsp.ie
Programme Coordinator: Miss S. Whelan