Wednesday, 3 March 2021
Department of Education and Skills
The Framework for Junior Cycle (2015) provides the underpinning for the new Junior Cycle. The Framework gives students the opportunity to develop a wider range of knowledge and skills – to equip them for further learning, for work, for responsible and active citizenship, and for healthy living. The Junior Cycle has been developed and implemented over several years, with the final phase of new subject specifications being introduced to schools from September 2019. The new subject specification for History was developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and introduced from September 2018.
Under the 2015 Framework students were required to study the subjects of English, Irish and Mathematics, with students being enabled to opt for a maximum of seven other optional subjects, or a smaller number if they chose to study some of the new short courses developed by the NCCA. Short courses are designed for 100 hours study over the three years of Junior Cycle, with subjects being designed for a minimum of 200 hours study (with the exceptions of English, Irish and Mathematics which are designed for a minimum of 240 hours study).
In November 2018, my predecessor, former Minister Joe McHugh, asked the NCCA to carry out a review of the optional nature of History under the new Framework for Junior Cycle. The NCCA was also asked to identify how best to promote the study of History in our schools. Minister McHugh received the NCCA's advisory report in July 2019 and subsequently the decision was made to afford History a special core status within the Framework for Junior Cycle. The support of the NCCA was requested in formulating how best this special core status for History could be achieved within the Framework for Junior Cycle.
Minister McHugh announced in February 2020 the arrangements to be put in place in order to facilitate History’s special core status in the Framework for Junior Cycle. Since September 2020, all post-primary schools have been required to offer History as a Junior Cycle subject and all students entering first year are required to study History as part of the curriculum. Students will follow the existing Junior Cycle History specification, which is of a minimum of 200 hours’ duration and will be assessed at a common level. Further details in this regard are set out in Circular Letter 16/2020.
The NCCA is also developing a short course in History for certain students with general learning difficulties/needs. Students in this category will not be required to study the subject ahead of the new short course being made available in September 2021.