12 December, 2017 - Minister Bruton presents first Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D. today presented the first Junior Cycle Profiles of Achievement (JCPA) to students in his local school Grange Community College.

The JCPA is a new kind of award which replaces the Junior Certificate.  Under this important reform, examination results are no longer the only formal representation of a student’s accomplishments at Junior Cycle. Students who sat their Junior Certificate in 2017 will receive their JCPAs over the coming days, representing all elements of their achievements.

The JCPA includes a student’s results in State Examinations, in Classroom Based Assessments, their participation in a short course and any other additional aspects of a student’s achievement e.g. extra-curricular activities. Specific recognition is given in the JCPA for students with special educational needs for their achievements in Priority Learning Units. 

The JCPA is a key part of the large scale reform of the Junior Cycle. The central objective of this reform, is to ensure a more holistic, student-centered approach to education, whereby all students are given the opportunity to develop a wider range of skills and recognition is given to students’ non-academic achievements.

This year, JCPAs will include the achievements of students in English, which is the first subject to be examined under the new Framework for Junior Cycle. Science and Business Studies will be included in the JCPA for Students sitting their Junior Certificate in 2019 and further subjects will included over the following years.

A new grading system is to be introduced for Junior Cycle over the coming years and this new grading system will appear alongside the traditional grading system on the JCPA until 2021, at which point, it will be phased in fully.

Congratulating students on their first JCPAs, Minister Bruton stated, “Today represents an important moment in the reform of the Junior Cycle. We have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe by 2026. Junior Cycle reform is an important development in advancing us towards this goal. The reforms put the student’s wellbeing and their individual potential at the heart of the learning process, ensuring a holistic education and recognition for non-academic achievements. I look forward to the continued roll-out of junior cycle and to students benefiting from this broader form of assessment”.


Notes for editors

Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement – More information

The 2017 Junior Cycle examination student cohort was the first to participate in the new Junior Cycle with English being the first of the new subject specifications to be examined. 61,654 students sat the Junior Cycle in 2017.

The JCPA will reward achievement across all areas of learning as applicable:

  • Results in State Examinations
  • Achievements in Classroom Based Assessments for subjects and short courses
  • Wellbeing (reported on from 2020)
  • Children with special educational needs will be recognised for achievements in Priority Learning Units
  • Other areas of learning, e.g. participation in science fair, musical performance, member of student council

In the case of both the State Examinations Commission grades and the Classroom-Based Assessment tasks, students will already have received the results of assessments prior to the awarding of the JCPA. In line with current practice, students will have received a provisional statement of results from the State Examinations Commission in September 2017.

The JCPA will include learning achievements that are broadly aligned to the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). In the majority of cases, the achievements reported will relate to subjects and short courses that are broadly aligned with Level 3 of the NFQ. In those cases where students have followed Priority Learning Units these are broadly aligned with Level 2 of the NFQ.

The first of the new subject specifications under the Framework for Junior Cycle, English, was rolled out in September 2014 and was examined for the first time in 2017. This was followed by new specifications for Business Studies and Science in September 2016 which will be examined for the first time in 2019.

The rollout in September 2017 of Irish, Modern Foreign Languages and Visual Art marks the introduction of Phase 3 of Junior Cycle and will be followed in September 2018 with the introduction of new specifications in Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Music and Geography.  The final phase will see the introduction of new specifications for the technology subjects, Religious Education, Jewish Studies and Classics.

Under the Framework for Junior Cycle student assessment consists of two classroom based assessments for each subject, a written assessment task and a final written examination.  Both the Assessment Task and the final written examination was marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Revised grading scheme

English is the first subject being examined in the reformed Junior Cycle programme. A revised grading system applied for English in 2017 and this will be rolled out to other subjects as new specifications come on stream. This means that this year, the grading that applies to English and that which applies to all other Junior Certificate subjects is different.

From this year’s examinations, both sets of grades will be in use; the new descriptors for Junior Cycle English and the existing Junior Certificate grades for all other subjects. This format of grading will continue to apply until 2021 when the last of the old Junior Certificate examinations are terminated. In the Junior Certificate, candidates will continue to achieve grades of A, B, C etc. to NG based on marks achieved, a total of 7 grades. In the Junior Cycle, achievement will be indicated using the grade descriptors of Distinction, Higher Merit, Merit, Achieved, Partially Achieved, and Not Graded, a total of 6 grade descriptors. The following table provides an explanation of the current and revised grading system for Junior Certificate / Junior Cycle subjects.

Junior     Certificate

Junior     Cycle



Grade   Descriptor


Grade   Descriptor

Higher,     Ordinary, Foundation/ Ard, Gnath, Bonn

≥     85 to 100


≥     90 to 100


≥     70 and < 85


≥     75 and < 90

Higher     Merit

≥     55 and < 70


≥     55 and < 75


≥     40 and < 55


≥     40 and < 55


≥     25 and < 40


≥     20 and < 40

Partially     Achieved

≥     10 and < 25


≥     0 and < 20

Not     Graded (NG)

≥     0 and < 10



Both the old and the new grading systems will appear on the Statements of Provisional Examination Results issued by the SEC and on the final Junior Certificate Profile of Achievement (JCPA).