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The Specification for Junior Cycle Science for introduction in September 2016 can be accessed here.

Development Overview

The development of the science specification involved several rounds of review with multiple stakeholder groups. Please watch the videos below to learn more.

Journey of Specification
Dr Paul van Kampen
The Journey of a Specification provides an overview of the general process and timeline for the development of the specification. Dr Paul van Kampen, who chaired the Junior Cycle Science Development Group, provides a concise summary of the process. 







Further Details

If you would like to know about the development process in more detail, you can follow the science specification’s journey through the tabs below – from the background paper through to the consultation reports, external evaluations and draft specification.

Check out the Background Paper and Brief for the Review of Junior Cycle Science, which was approved for public consultation by NCCA Council in September 2013.

The Background Paper provides an evidence-based foundation for the development of the subject specification. It presents a brief sketch of the evolution of science as a school subject and the developments that were influential in shaping it. Topics covered include:

  • responses to the 2003 syllabus
  • purposes of science education for the 21st century
  • developments in the specifications for science in other countries,

before setting out the proposed brief for the development of the specification.


Science in the news since the introduction of the 2003 syllabus:

2003: Human Genome project is complete.
2004: NASA's Mars Exploration Rover lands successfully on Mars.
2005: First successful face transplant is performed.
2006: Pluto is reclassified as a dwarf planet.
2007: The first diploid genetic sequence for a single person is published.
2008: Hubble space telescope observes first planet outside our solar system.
2009: First Large Hadron Collider collisions recorded at CERN
2010: The first synthetic genome for a bacterial cell is created.
2013: New Carbon Capture Catalyst Discovered



The Junior Cycle Science Development Group plays a key role in shaping the NCCA’s advice to the Minister for Education and Skills on the curriculum and assessment specification for junior cycle science. They address themselves to the brief and timescale for the work as set out by Council by

  • commenting on, and contributing to, a range of draft documents.
  • ensuring that information on issues and developments is fed back to nominating organisations.
  • ensuring that the views/policy of the nominating body are brought to the discussion.
  • supporting consultation processes at key stages in the development process.

The composition of the Junior Cycle Science Development Group ensures that there is access to expertise in science education as well as an effective interface with the teaching profession, the realities of classrooms and schools and the views of the education partners generally. Such a balance ensures that the representative structure of Council is consistently associated with high quality work and with the efficient and effective use of resources.

Below are reports from the development group meetings that were issued during the development of the specification:


Check out the draft specification that was approved for public consultation.

The draft specification for junior cycle science was presented to the Board for Junior Cycle and Council in June 2014 for discussion. Once again, feedback from the partners was used to improve the document, which was returned to both the Board for Junior Cycle, and Council for approval in September 2014. In October 2014, a 12-week public consultation process opened.

The consultation focused, for the most part, on the curriculum specification. Specifically, it sought feedback on the draft introduction, rationale, aim, course overview, strands and learning outcomes for Junior Cycle Science. The draft specification also includes appendices containing examples of student work, a glossary, and work to date on potential assessment arrangements. Consultation on the assessment for certification arrangements was deferred.

Consultation on Background Paper

Check out the Consultation Report on the Background Paper for Junior Cycle Science.

The Background Paper was presented to the Board for Junior Cycle and Council in June 2013 for discussion. The feedback from the partners was used to improve the document, which was returned to both the Board and Council for approval in September 2013. In October 2013, a 14-week public consultation process opened. There was a high level of participation in the consultation process and a wide range of views was gathered. The findings of the consultation informed the work of the development group and a report was presented to both the Board for Junior Cycle and Council.


Overview of the consultation findings

There was strong consensus in agreement with:
  • the purposes of JC Science as set out in the background paper
  • placing the Nature of Science at the core of the curriculum
  • the need for a greater variety of assessment approaches.
There was general consensus that:
  • the current syllabus was content heavy
  • most of the brief was appropriate for the review of JC Science.
Different views:
  • the extent to which genuine scientific investigations are happening in junior cycle science
  • the most appropriate course structure.

Consultation on Draft Specification

Check out the Consultation Report on the draft specification for Junior Cycle Science.

The draft specification for Junior Cycle Science was approved for consultation by Council in September 2014. The consultation process consisted of a number of different elements:

  • an online questionnaire
  • a consultation conference
  • focus group meetings with students
  • independent evaluation.

The independent evaluation was conducted by Professor Cecília Galvão. Further information on the consultation conference (including videos of the Keynote addresses by Professor Paul Black, Professor Joseph Roche and Doctor Shane Bergin) can be accessed below:

Independent evaluation of the draft specification.

Consultation Conference

Overview of the consultation findings

There was a strong consensus that:
  • the emphasis and focus on skills development was a positive feature of the specification.
  • the course structure was excellent in reconciling a wide range of views.
  • the sample assessment items are excellent and received much praise.
There was a general consensus that:
  • the annotated examples and glossary were useful.
Different views:
  • There was a guarded welcome for the learning outcomes, but also genuine fears and constructive concerns were expressed.

More detailed material on assessment for reporting in junior cycle science, setting out details of the practical arrangements related to assessment of the Classroom-Based Assessments, will be available in a separate Assessment Guidelines document. This will include, for example, the suggested length and formats for student pieces of work, support in using ‘on-balance’ judgement in relation to the Features of Quality.

Furthermore, the Development Group has identified specific learning outcomes on which to focus as we develop more annotated examples of student work.