St. Mary's Secondary School, Ballina

Junior Cycle

Junior Cycle

St. Mary’s Secondary School offer a wide and balanced curriculum for the Junior Cycle students. As a school we are always evaluating the subject options we offer so as to maximise the learning for the students in our care.

For first year students from September 2017, we introduced Graphics as an additional option for Junior Cycle, culminating in the school providing Design & Communications Graphics as an option on the Leaving Cert students for the first time in September 2021.

From September 2022, we are delighted to announce that our new school building will be equipped with a new Technology room and we will be offering this new subject to the 2022/23 incoming First year students subject to sufficient demand.

Currently our curriculum provision from September 2022 includes:

Core Subjects
- Irish
- English
- Maths
- Geography
- History
- Religious Education
- Social, Personal & Health Education (SPHE)
- Civic, Social & Political Education (CSPE)

Students will choose an additional four subjects from the following options:

Finally, students will also take an extra modules in:

  • Pastoral Care
  • Wellbeing
  • Guidance
  • Digital Media

For further information on Junior Cycle subjects, syllabi and specifications check the NCCA Curriculum Online website.

Junior Cycle: A broad education for your daughter

The new Junior Cycle will place the student at the centre of the learning process. It allows for new ways of learning and a broader range of skills to be properly assessed.

The release of the Junior Certificate results by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) in September 2016 marked the end of an era. In the future, Junior Cycle students will receive a new Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA).


Schools will be able to choose from a total of 21 different subjects for inclusion on their Junior Cycle programme. All subjects are being revised and each one will have its own specification replacing what was previously known as a syllabus. Each specification describes the learning that takes place as part of the student’s study of a subject in Junior Cycle. By 2019 all new subject specifications will have been introduced. Students can study a maximum of 10 subjects for the JCPA, and if their school offers short courses they can study 9 subjects plus 2 short courses or 8 subjects plus 4 short courses for certification purposes.

Classroom Based Assessment

Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning and skills in ways not possible in a pen and paper examination, for example, their verbal communication and investigation skills. CBAs will be undertaken in subjects and short courses and will be facilitated by the classroom teacher.

CBAs will be undertaken during a defined time period within normal class contact time and to a national timetable. Students will complete one CBA in second year and one in third year, in each subject.

Once the second CBA is completed students in third year will complete a written Assessment Task. This task, set by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), is undertaken during normal class time and will be sent to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for marking. This Assessment Task will be worth 10% of the overall mark in the case of most subjects. At the end of third year, students will sit the final SEC examination in June. CBAs will be reported on in the JCPA using the following descriptors:

  • Exceptional
  • Above Expectations
  • In Line with Expectations
  • Yet to meet Expectations

Other Learning Experiences

Students will have the opportunity to engage with a range of other learning experiences as part of their Junior Cycle programme and these can be recorded on the JCPA. Other learning experiences play a critical role in ensuring that students are provided with a broad and balanced educational experience. These learning experiences could include student engagement in a science fair, a musical performance or a debating competition.
They could also include extracurricular activities, such as:

  • membership of the school student council or school clubs and societies
  • participation in school sporting activities

Student Wellbeing

Your child’s wellbeing is of central importance to his educational success and overall happiness. As a result Wellbeing will become a core part of your child’s Junior Cycle experience. This area of learning includes, amongst others, Physical Education, Civic, Social and Political Education, Social, Personal and Health Education (including Relationship and Sexuality Education) and Guidance.

Aug 27
1st year students Mass of Welcomes & Induction Day
Aug 28
5th year, 6th year & LCA students return
Aug 29
2nd, 3rd & TY students return
Sep 24
Mercy Day Mass/Opening of School Year Mass
Slí Ectra, Ballina, Co. Mayo F26YXC7
353 96 70333
© 2024 St. Mary's Secondary School, Ballina