DH F6 Through short courses

Changes through short courses

New topics can be introduced into schools through short courses, which are blocks of classes that last less than one semester. The length depends on the needs.

An interesting example of this is the Irish Junior Cycle Curriculum – the curriculum for the first three years of secondary education in Ireland. This is based on the Framework for Junior Cycle, published by the Department of Education and Skills in 2015. The framework aims to give students a broad and balanced education that develops their knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes for lifelong learning. It also offers a range of subjects and short courses that cater to the needs and interests of students and communities.

Short courses are optional, and require 100 hours of student engagement over the three years of junior cycle. They are designed to let schools offer a more diverse and flexible junior cycle programme that meets the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. They also aim to broaden the learning experiences of students and enable them to explore areas of learning – such as bioeconomy – that are not fully covered by the core subjects.

Seven short courses have been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). These are: Coding; Digital Media Literacy; Artistic Performance; Chinese Language and Culture; Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE); Physical Education (PE); and Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE). None of these directly refer to the bioeconomy, although elements of it may find their way into some of them.

Schools can also develop their own short courses or use short courses developed by other organisations, following the guidelines and template provided by the NCCA. The provision of short courses in schools depends on various factors, such as the design and content of the school’s junior cycle programme, the resources available, the students’ needs and interests, teacher availability, expertise and qualifications, the views of parents and guardians, and the integration of short courses into the school timetable. Schools are advised to limit the number of short courses they offer, especially in the early years of the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle, and to ensure that short courses do not replace existing subjects.

Materials to use:

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