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Develop your own Short Course

Guidelines on developing your own Short Course

The short course is a curriculum component in Junior Cycle. A short course is designed for approximately 100 hours of student engagement and provides opportunities for schools to broaden the range of educational experiences they offer in Junior Cycle.

  • Introduction

    The short course is a curriculum component in the junior cycle. Short courses can be developed by teachers to suit the specific needs and interests of their students in junior cycle. Short courses for junior cycle may be aligned with the indicators for Level 1 or Level 2 or Level 3 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Other agencies or groups can also develop short courses. Short courses are designed for approximately 100 hours of student engagement and should emphasise active learning.

  • Steps for developing your own short course

    The NCCA will provide guidance and advice on the development of one short course per school at three key stages of the development:
    * After the scoping document has been completed
    * After draft one of the short course has been written, taking into account the NCCA feedback on the scoping document
    * After further drafts have been written, again taking account of NCCA feedback, until a final draft is developed.
    In developing short courses, schools may devise bespoke courses that support the context of their school and meet the needs of students. Schools may also decide to work with external agencies such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or statutory bodies to develop their short course.

    Steps for schools to take in developing short courses for junior cycle
    As your school prepares to develop a short course you are advised to take the following steps:

    Step 1: Read and research: Ensure familiarity with A Framework for Junior Cycle 2015. Take a look at NCCA-developed short courses to see how the guidelines and template have been used to develop these short courses.
    Step 2: Consider the proposed short course within the context of your school and the needs and interests of your students: Consult with staff, students, parents, related subject departments and others about the proposed short course
    Step 3: Look at the NCCA support materials for developing a short course: Read the NCCA Guidelines for developing short courses. These guidelines will refer to the templates for the scoping document and for the specification document itself. Look at the NCCA short courses as exemplars.
    Step 4: Use the scoping document: Now you are ready to develop the short course scoping document for the appropriate level where you bring together all the big ideas for this course in consultation with relevant others in your school community. The school principal submits the short course for review to the NCCA via email ( NCCA will advise on the next steps of the process. The submission form at the front of the scoping document and the completed document itself should not be longer than seven pages
    Step 5: Develop, reflect and refine: The school uses the NCCA advice to develop a first draft of the short course and this is submitted to the same email address by the school principal. NCCA will review the draft and again the school uses this advice to develop further drafts if required. The school writes the final draft and it is submitted for final review to the NCCA.

    Key advice:

    It is a good idea to pilot the short course - or parts of it - with a small group of students and evaluate its success before offering it to a larger group. Schools who have developed their own short courses report that it is a rewarding process but that it takes time. Our experience of working with schools has shown that it could take up to 12 months to develop one. It is best to develop a short course in collaboration with others. This allows for discussion and sharing of the planning tasks. It also develops the capacity of the teachers involved to teach the short course when it is developed. Schools are advised to access the support for short course development provided by the Junior Cycle Support Service for Teachers (JCT).

    Endorsement of short courses:

    It is not our policy to endorse educational materials or ‘packs’ relating to short courses, so we would request that you do not use the NCCA logo on published materials relating to this short course. However, you may wish to acknowledge the support of the NCCA in the development of the short course. If so, we would suggest you use the following wording:
    This short course has been developed in accordance with the NCCA template and guidelines.


  • Support materials and templates