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IntroductionThis
essay will review the new junior cycle reform in the Irish Education System
with reflection on the teachers role in implementation the new curriculum using the principles of Assessment for Learning (AfL) and principles of Assessment of Learning (AoL)
with reference to the new Business Studies Junior Certificate curriculum. EducationAccording to Farooq (2012) ‘Education is a process in which and by which the knowledge, characters and behaviour
of the human being are shaped and moulded. Education is lead to
the enlightenment of mankind’. Education
is the ‘central plank in the economic, social and cultural development of Irish
society’ (Irish Education System, 2004, p5).  Biesta
(2015, p 234) states that ‘the point of education is not students learn, but
that they learn something, that they learn it for particular reasons, and they
learn it from someone’.  In other words
when student are being thought the content should have a meaning or a purpose. According
to Biesta (2015, p 234) education adheres to questions of content, purpose and
relationships. Biesta (2015, p234) believes the question of purpose is the main
fundamental question as it’s what you want to achieve through educational
activities but also sets out what content to learn and also what educational
relationships can be chosen in order to achieve a purpose.  In
addition, Biesta (2015, p235) states the purpose of education can be classified
under qualification, socialisation and subjectification (ways students take
responsibility rather than being instructed). A school who is focused on
qualification still has an impact on socialisation and subjectification.
Therefore, Biesta (2015, p235) states it ‘Important for teachers to find even
balance amongst the three purposes as a school/teacher focus one purpose it can
have a negative effect on the other two. More focus on qualification can have a
negative effect on a socialisation and subjectificiation.’ According
to Biesta & Winter (2011, p 538) autonomy, 
rationality and subjectivity (tastes, preferences etc.)  play a key role in education today. In other words,
teachers must give students freedom to learn and also try relate the content by
using the correct methodologies with contextual information.  Education
is compulsory for children aged three to sixteen or until students have
completed three years of second level education (Irish Education System, 2004,
p5). Education is not  just about
learning  nor is it the only objective of
a teacher to facilitate learning to students without seeking the purpose and
specifying what is to be achieved by both teacher and student.  The Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 established the
Department of education and Science. The man focus of the Department is to
ensure the delivery of a ‘comprehensive, cost-effective and accessible
education system of the highest quality as measured by international standards’
(Irish Education System, 2004, p32).Its greatly acknowledged that ‘education is a critical
driver of economic success and social progress in modern society’ (Irish
Education System, 2004, p7). In addition, Irish students are performing in the
top sectors of international studies from the organisation of Economic
Development (OECD) PISA (Programme
for International Student Assessment) evaluations (Irish Education
System, 2004, p6). Recognition from the above studies have attracted and
continue to attract international organisations to Ireland who seek quality
graduates. The Department
of Education must ensure the education system is kept up to date on a global
basis in order for Irish students to be at the top of these international
studies. Therefore, the education system must evaluate and occasionally reform
some, if not all of its curriculum.CurriculumAccording Ebert II, Ebert,
and Bentley (2013) curriculum can be defined as ‘the means and materials with which students will interact for the
purpose of achieving identified educational outcomes’.Cuban (1995) highlights
that curriculum has four key components; 1. ‘Official ‘Curriculum: Curriculum is influenced by external
bodies. “..they expect teachers to teach it; they assume students will learn
it”, 2. ‘Taught Curriculum: What teachers decide to teach, how they teach and
what they take out of the “official curriculum”. “Their choices derive from
their knowledge of the subject, their experiences in teaching the content,
their affection or dislike of topic”, 3. ‘Learned Curriculum: ‘Inclusive mode
of analysis’ How the student learns as a result of their place in the class room
and the two previous areas. 4. ‘Tested Curriculum: Ranks students based on test
results. Lowry disapproves of curricula’s testing because “What is tested is a
limited part of what is intended by policy makers, taught by teachers, and
learned by students”‘.The
Minister for Education and Skills who is advised by the National
Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) governs the
curriculum for Irelands primary and post- primary schools. The National Council for Curriculum
& Assessment (NCCA) was established on a statutory basis in 2001. The
NCCA’s role is to ‘lead developments in curriculum and assessment and to
support the implementation of changes resulting from this work’ (Department of Education and Skills, 2017).
The NCCA works in a nature of consensus and partnership (parents, teacher representative
organisations, Boards of Management). The NCCA ‘seeks to
promote an innovative an d creative environment for all learners in schools and
other educational settings’ (Department of Education and Skills, 2017) Priestley and Biesta (2013) note three trends in modern
day curriculum development: a return to constructivist and child-centred
approaches, an emphasis on the teacher as a central agent in curriculum
development, and the formulation of curricula in terms of competences and
capacities’. Priestley and Biesta (2013) state it is also evident that
curricula are influenced by economic arguments and there is a strong emphasis
on accountability.History of Curriculum in
IrelandThe history of curriculum dates back to 1831 when the
national system of education was established which focused on mixing the Irish
population into certain norms and delivering necessary literacy and numeracy
(Walsh, 2016, p3).The 1890s a reform was need as the system of ‘payment by
results’ introduced in 1872, with a focus on a narrow range of literary subjects,
had outlived its purpose (Walsh, 2016, p3).In 1897, the Board of National Education established the
Commission on Manual and Practical Instruction (Walsh, 2016).Walsh (2016) highlights that drawing, Kindergarten,
object lessons, PE, singing, science, laundry, cookery and manual instruction
as compulsory subjects. This was known as the Revised Programme (1900)
(Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, 1902 cited in Walsh, 2016, p4)In the 1920s, the Irish people had their first chance to create
their own programme of education which concentrated on the Irish language and
Catholic religion as the main characteristics of this distinct identity. A
Second National Programme Conference was assembled in 1924 (Walsh, 2016).In 1934 the Irish higher course was to be put in place in
all schools and the lower course in English was to be studied by all pupils
outside infant classes. In addition, English became optional in first class (Department
of Education 1934 cited in Walsh, 2016, p6).An amount of factors merged in the 1960s which sought reform
of the primary school curriculum. Factors such as; the objective to join the
European Economic Community, the elimination of the Primary Certificate
Examination, advances in communication and technology, the increasing objective
of fairness of educational opportunity, communication with international
influences, the attendance of a group of encouraged politicians and the beginning
of free post-primary education (Fleming and Harford, 2014).The Primary School Curriculum published in 1971 proved to
be a radical departure in ideological position, content and methodology to its
predecessor (Department of Education 1971a, 1971b cited in Walsh, 2016 p8).A major reform was introduced in 1999 to the present
primary school curriculum and will be introduced between 2015 and 2018. At secondary
level a rearrangement of curriculum and assessment at junior cycle has
commenced and will be implemented between 2015 and 2022 (DES 2014 cited in Walsh,
2016, p2).Old Junior Certificate This part of the essay will
now focus on the o1991d Junior Certificate and why reform was required. The old
Junior Certificate was established in 1989 to replace the inter certificate. Teachers
Union of Ireland and the Association of Secondary Teachers issued a joint
statement agreeing that the old junior certificate had too much emphasis on a
final examination and recommended that a new Junior Certificate should allowed
for a broader range of assessment and learning (Department of Education and
Skills, 2015, p1)Teachers were teaching to
the test and any content outside the curriculum was overlooked therefore it was
a problem in terms of creation of dependent learners. In addition, teachers
conduct in a lot of scaffolding which also leads to a creation of dependent
learners. Thus, a reform was required.New
Junior CycleAccording to the Curriculum
Online (2017) ‘the new junior cycle will feature
revised subjects and short courses, a focus on literacy, numeracy and key
skills, and new approaches of assessment and reporting’ The main
emphasis of the new junior cycle is for students to gain social skills while
gaining knowledge and the skills which will before great benefit later in life.In addition, the Teachers
Union of Ireland and the Association of Secondary Teachers state that the new
junior certificate reform embraces ‘the need to build on our understanding of
education and to promote active collaborative learning that will allow for a
better balance between the development of subject knowledge, and the
development of important life skills and abilities’ (Department of Education
and Skills, 2015, p1). The above statement signifies that the new junior
certificate reform is focused on social development within subject areas
instead of learning for an examination after three years.The new Junior Cycle reform
aims to change from an exam in year three of the Junior certificate to 40% of
grades are to be awarded through assessments of projects, oral presentations or
group work during the second and third year of the junior cycle course (Quinn,
2014). There is great emphasis on wellbeing and short courses with an
allocation of 300-400hrs for wellbeing and 100hr allocation for short courses
such as coding, CSPE, Philosophy, Digital Media Literacy, Chinese Language and
Culture. An example for wellbeing in Business Studies the class can have a
debate on the positives and negatives effect of the sugar tax. Wellbeing can
also help students to deal with life’s issue through guidance. In addition,
level 2 learning programmes will be included to help student with general
learning disabilities (Department
of Education and Skills, 2015).The Department of Education and Skills
(2015, p11) highlights eight principles of the new junior
cycle:1.     ‘Engagement and Participation’2.     ‘Learning to Learn’3.     ‘Choice and Flexibility’4.     ‘Quality’5.     ‘Wellbeing’6.     ‘Inclusive Education’7.     ‘Creativity and Innovation’8.     ‘Continuity and Development’New
Business Studies Junior Cycle According to Curriculum
Online (2015, p5) the new junior cert reform in relation to ‘Business studies aims to stimulate
students’ interest in the business environment and how they interact with it.
It develops skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that allow them to make
informed and responsible decisions with all of the resources available to them,
ensuring their and society’s well-being, while becoming more self-aware as
learners’Students today
are growing up in dynamic and globalised world with new opportunities and
challenges always emerging. The new business studies junior cert curriculum
encourages entrepreneurship,
develops skills for learning, work and for life. It assists in the development
of analytical and critical thinking skills, and problem solving (Curriculum Online, 2015, p4). The new business studies junior
cert is broken into three strands personal finance, enterprise and Our Economy.
After establishing the reasons for the Junior Certificate
reform and the positive impact on the Business Studies curriculum. This essay
now will now look at AfL also known as formative assessment and AoL also known
as summative assessment with retrospect to the new Business Studies curriculum
in the junior cycle.Assessment in education involves ‘gathering, interpreting
and using information about the processes and outcomes of learning’ (Curriculum Online, 2015, p17). Assessment plays a key role
in curriculum and teacher as it measures the progress of students to make sure
they are understanding the content.According to
Moss (2013) summative assessment is used to find out the quality of students
learning on a specific area of a subject at a particular time. Summative
assessment results in a grade acquired based on achievements in the assigned
assessment. Formative assessment guides the
teacher and student to next step of the learning process to ensure success.
(Ronan, 2015)According to Curriculum Online (2015).  the new business studies curriculum will
comprise of two Class-room based assessments (CBA’s), final assessment on CBA
two and a common paper exam which is set by the State examinations. The new junior cert curriculum has an aspect of summative
assessment with one common paper level exam which is two hours and is set by
the State Examinations Commission (SEC) (Curriculum Online, 2015).CBA’s are similar to formative assessment that occurs
every day class.  Students can illustrate
the interest in the business environment using AFL and CBA’s over a three-year
period.  CBA’s will develop a student’s
knowledge, understanding, skills, and values, thereby achieving the learning
outcomes across the strands. The CBA will provide an opportunity for students
to: ·      
‘Research
information using a range of methods’·      
‘Analyse
data and evidence to make informed value judgements and decisions’·      
‘Organise
information and plan logically’·      
‘Communicate
clearly and effectively’·      
‘Collaborate
with others on tasks’·      
‘Reflect
on their contributions to the work and their own learning’.  (Curriculum Online, 2015, p18)The CBA’s provide the students a chance to apply their
knowledge, skills and understanding to different real-life settings, and to
develop their communication skills. The Students will apply course learning to
their daily lives and the world of work, integrate theoretical ideas to
practical contexts and begin to develop reflective skills. To complete a CBA student’s
will be expected to: ·      
‘Undertake
some original investigative work in order to find out more about the topic’·      
‘Explain
their interest in the topic ‘·      
‘Evaluate
what they have learned about the business environment as a result of their
investigation’·      
‘Reflect
on how they see the world differently and how their behaviour has changed
having engaged with the topic’·      
‘Demonstrate
the development of their communication skills through presentation.
Students are precluded from presenting on their Business in Action
Classroom-Based Assessment’ (Curriculum Online, 2015, p20)The Presentation is a separate project which each
students completes on their own. The presentation looks at three areas of
activity: ‘investigating, reflecting
on learning and communicating. Students
can collaborate with other students in assembling information’ (Curriculum Online, 2015, p4).Each type of assessment
requires different roles the teachers and students. Teacher who teach through
summative assessment follow test results to improve students reach the highest
mark possible. Students are encouraged to avoid failure. A teacher who teaches
through formative assessment uses student involvement in assessment and
instruction to improve students. Students act on classroom assessment to
improve and are encouraged to succeed. However, the new junior cycle has
aspects of both summative and formative assessment. In order to implement AFL,
teachers must include methodologies like TPS (think, pair, share), group work,
presentations, projects, use of whiteboards, mind maps, video analyse,
effective questioning, fishbone graph etc. This type learning creates active
social learning which can be fun and if implemented correctly can include
children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Students will also
develop social skills, literacy, creativity, problem solving, working with
others, communicating numerate, managing information and thinking. The skills
learned/developed will be of great. Teachers today have to
cover every learning outcome on the curriculum over the course of the years.
According to Curriculum Online (2015, p13) ‘learning outcomes are statements that describe what
knowledge, understanding, skills and values students should be able to
demonstrate having studied business studies in junior cycle’. In addition, teachers
should embed the 7, 9, 14, 18, 22 and 24 of the statements of learning in every
day class over the course of three years.·     
‘SOL 7- 
Values what it means to be an active citizen, with rights
responsibilities in local or wider contexts’.·     
‘SOL 9- Understands the origins and impacts
of social, economic, and environmental aspects of the around him/her’.·     
‘SOL 14- Makes informed financial decisions
and develops good consumer skills’.·     
‘SOL 18- Observes and evaluates empirical
events and processes and draws valid deductions and conclusion’.·     
‘SOL 22 – Take initiative, is innovative and
develops entrepreneurial skills’.·     
‘SOL 24 – Uses technology and digital media
tools to learn, communicate, work and think collaboratively and creatively in a
responsible and ethical manner’. (Curriculum Online, 2017).However, in order to
complete the above teachers will need assistance from agencies such as the
NCCA, JCT, PDST, trade unions and BSTAI to provide support/assistance like
seminars, webinars or even members calling into each school in the country.
However, as the common paper exam is still 90%, majority of teachers will still
teach to the test as there so much at stake. O Brien (2016), highlights that
studies from the OCED show countries that implement enquiry based assessment like
Sweden have lower ranking worldwide. This could also have a negative effect on
the new junior cert reform.  Conclusion This essay assessed the new Junior
Cert curriculum reform and different types of assessment. This essay highlights
the many benefits of the new reform but, also highlights that the Irish international
education rankings will fall as result of implementation of enquiry based
assessment. Teachers will need assistance in implement the new curriculum
because going from all summative to formative assessment can be a difficult
change. Students leaving the education system that have been educated under the
new reform will be more well-rounded as they will have dynamic skills and knowledge
which will benefit them in future life.

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