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Senior Cycle – 2 Years

Pupils prepare for Leaving Certificate and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. All subjects are available at Higher and Ordinary Level.

The Core Subjects are:
  • Irish
  • English
  • Mathematics
The Optional Subjects on offer are:
  • Art
  • Agricultural Science
  • Business
  • Construction Studies
  • French
  • History
  • Physics
  • Accounting
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Geography
  • Home Economics
  • Design & Communication Graphics (D.C.G.)
St. Fergal’s offers the following non-exam subjects:
  • Religion
  • Career Guidance
  • Physical Education

Language gives students the opportunity to access the understanding, knowledge and skills to promote their personal growth and effective participation in society.

The study of language enables students to build on their learning in primary school and further develop their skills and enjoyment in using it effectively. Through language learning and use, students discover information, develop thinking, and express ideas and feelings. They learn about language, and how to use it well in all areas of their studies.

Respect is shown for students’ competence in their home language and the community characteristics of their language use together with their literacy practices outside of school.

Learning about language in  texts , including digital  texts , is important to social development and as part of this process students develop the competence and confidence needed to meet the demands of school, employment, further education and life. Knowledge and command of language are also essential to their contributions to political, social and cultural life and as thoughtful and active citizens.

As learners, it is important that students become aware of where and how they are improving in their use of language and conscious of where further improvement is necessary. As a route to this knowledge they develop greater competence in the conventions of spelling, punctuation procedures, sentence structures and  text organisation 

Students are actively involved in the  integrated skills of oral language, reading and writing and in discussing and comparing a wide variety of  texts and forms of English. As study is a social activity as well as a personal one, students have  opportunities to work in groups to achieve appropriate language goals.

The ability to appreciate literature from different cultures is important in developing the whole person and to this end students read literature with insight and imagination not only in class but privately as well.

Finally, as their mastery of language grows, so too will the opportunities to enjoy their world and give of their best to society now, and in the future.  They will fully appreciate their success in language when pleasure and growth in it continue in their lives long after school is done.

Young people are growing up in a globalised and dynamic world. New opportunities and challenges will emerge in their lifetimes that are virtually unimaginable today. Developing technologies, environmental and societal challenges, demographics, global competition and changing consumer demand will drive these changes. Studying business helps to equip students with the understanding, skills and attitudes to participate fully in an interconnected world.

Business studies encourages students to  develop an appreciation of how their lives are shaped by economic and social factors.  They are enabled to make informed decisions, to better manage their personal financial resources and to be adaptable, creative, and enterprising. Business studies also improves their knowledge and understanding of good business practice and of business as a productive activity.

Entrepreneurship enhances the quality of our collective and individual lives, often changing the way we work, communicate and live. Business studies provides an awareness, insight and positive attitude to  entrepreneurship , demonstrating how it can improve our goods, services and institutions.

Business studies encourages students to  develop skills for learning, skills for work and skills for life. It supports the development of analytical and critical thinking skills, encouraging students to be problem solvers. It reinforces the development of students’ numeracy, literacy and  digital technology skills by providing a real-life context for their application.

Business studies explores the interdependence of economic prosperity, societal well-being and the environment and encourages students to think and act as responsible and ethical citizens. They will be provided with a set of foundational skills, understandings and personal attributes, which will help them to engage with the dynamic  business environment and fulfil their potential in their personal and professional lives, now and into the future.

Each subject of the technology suite offers the student different experiences which contribute towards their education in technology education. As a result, preparing students for learning in the technology subjects is not just about teaching towards the technology but towards the skills that are fundamental to the technology subjects and are transferable into other areas of their learning: skills that encourage the student to problem-solve through creation, innovation, communication, collaboration and exploration, all of which are developed in an active learning environment where students can advance their ideas from conception to realisation.

Engineering addresses the process of cyclical design to produce products and systems that adhere to defined conventions and standards. The focus of junior cycle Engineering is goal-oriented problem solving for the manufacture of products, with emphasis on efficiency, accuracy, precision and a high- quality finish. This project-based approach to junior cycle Engineering requires students to develop a knowledge of materials and processes, and to demonstrate a capacity to select appropriate materials and processes for given applications.

Engineering offers students a lens through which to view the role and impact of engineering within their classroom, community and the world. Through the study of engineering, students will have the opportunity to behave as engineers, and develop an engineering mindset. The engineering process is both reflective and systematic. It is reflective in that students continually test their design and modify it based on what they have learned. It is systematic in that students undertake several characteristic steps in reaching a solution. Students identify problems, integrate ideas for how to solve identified problems, and try to improve the design or devise a better one.

Geography is the study of the Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places, and environments. It adheres to the scientific method and pursues scientific principles and logic. The study of geography empowers the person to explore and understand the world around them. Engagement with the subject promotes a deep understanding of people and place.  Students develop the skills to read their environment, enabling them to interpret the physical landscape, observe climatic events with an informed eye and discuss world events in a knowledgeable manner. Learning in geography supports students in making informed decisions, giving the ability to make valuable contributions to the economic, social, and cultural life of their communities, localities and countries.  

Through the study of geography, people are encouraged to appreciate the processes that shape their world and view global issues as ethical citizens. Geography provides a platform to analyse world events, empowering young people as informed, active citizens. Studying geography enhances students’ ability to engage with issues such as sustainable development, economic systems, hazard management and climate change. The topics experienced help develop students’ awareness and understanding of cultural variations fostering a respect of difference.  

Students are growing up in a globalised, dynamic world. Geography provides a medium to explore current events in our world. Students viewing events through a geographical lens are well placed to be part of a generation which can deal effectively with, and mitigate global challenges and rise to related opportunities.

The skills developed through the subject are transferrable and will benefit students in study and life. Geography encourages structured inquiry: this critical thinking involves students asking questions, gathering data, evaluating and interpreting, and presenting information. It encourages collaboration and communication with their peers and experts in other fields. 

The study of history is about exploring human experience over time and how that experience has shaped the world we live in today. By asking questions of available evidence, students of history can make rational, informed judgements about human actions in the past and examine why people were motivated to act as they did and the effects of these actions. Studying history develops our historical consciousness, enabling us to orient ourselves in time and place our experiences in a broader framework of human experience.  Being historically conscious transforms the way that we perceive the world and our place in it, and informs how we see the future development of the world.


Having a ‘big picture’ of the past helps to develop our historical consciousness.  It allows us to see major patterns of change and gives us a framework to understand and put into context the knowledge that we gain about the actions of people that came before us. Investigating evidence to identify moments or patterns of change in the human experience, and to make judgements on the significance of such change, is the key practice of the historian.  This study of change relates to the fullness of human experience over time, from the initial emergence of humans to the more recent past. The study of the past allows us to examine the impact of human actions in a wide variety of dimensions, including politics, government, law, society, economics, culture, beliefs and ideas.  


When we learn about the past, it is important also that we understand the nature of history as a discipline that allows us to make sense of what has happened in our world over time.  This involves understanding such concepts as: continuity and change; time and space; how evidence allows us to make judgements about the past and how such judgements may need to be changed if new evidence emerges; awareness of the usefulness and limitations of different forms of evidence and the importance of being objective and fair when investigating the actions of people in the past, and taking care not to let opinions or prejudices affect our judgements; how human actions in the past have different levels of significance; that we see people in the past and their actions in the context of the time in which they lived.  


Understanding the actions of people in the past and understanding how we come to know about these actions helps us to develop positive values about history.  These include a respect for truth and evidence, a commitment to being open to seeing the past from different perspectives and a regard for the integrity of the past.  This way of seeing the world deepens our understanding of the relationship between past and current events and the forces that drive change; helps us to appreciate how diverse values, beliefs and traditions have contributed to the culture in which we live; and enables us to value our local, national and international heritage.  The ability to construct and communicate coherent, logical arguments on matters of historical significance, and in so doing utilise skills such as thinking critically, working collaboratively and utilising digital media effectively, is also enhanced by the study of history.


Studying history helps us also to develop a historical sensibility that leads to an appreciation of the cultural achievements and accomplishments of previous generations, and to derive pleasure and enjoyment from learning about the richness and diversity of human experience in the past, and how this has impacted on and shaped our own identity and experience of the world.

The central focus of Home Economics as a field of study is achieving optimal, healthy and sustainable living for individuals, families and society.  Individuals and families in every society are continually faced with new and emergent issues that can impact on their wellbeing. Such issues include concerns relating to food, nutrition, diet and health; family and social concerns; consumer issues; sustainability in the home; responsible family resource management; and textiles and clothing. 

In Home Economics, students learn how to address these practical, real world, perennial problems of individuals, families, households and society in socially responsible ways. Practical perennial problems or concerns are endured from generation to generation by families and require critical decision-making skills to resolve them. Home Economics education uses a systems approach to empower individuals and families with the knowledge and skills to address these real-life concerns of everyday living.  Home Economics draws on diverse disciplines integrating social, physical and human sciences. It strives to solve everyday challenges using a blend of knowledge and skills acquired from multiple disciplines. Home Economics education develops students’ essential lifeskills and personal independence. It supports the development of students who are critical, creative thinkers and encourages students to be problem solvers capable of making ethically and socially responsible decisions.  

This mathematics specification provides students with access to important mathematical ideas to develop the mathematical knowledge and skills that they will draw on in their personal and work lives. This specification also provides students, as lifelong learners, with the basis on which further study and research in mathematics and many other fields are built.
Mathematical ideas have evolved across societies and cultures over thousands of years, and are constantly developing. Digital technologies are facilitating this expansion of ideas and provide new tools for mathematical exploration and invention. While the usefulness of mathematics for problem solving is well known, mathematics also has a fundamental role in both enabling and sustaining cultural, social, economic and technological advances and empowering individuals to become critical citizens.
The specification is underpinned by the conception of mathematics as an interconnected body of ideas and reasoning processes that students negotiate collaboratively with teachers and their peers and as independent learners. Number, measurement and geometry, statistics and probability are common aspects of most people’s mathematical experiences in everyday personal, study and work situations. Equally important are the essential roles that algebra, functions and relations, logic, mathematical structure and working mathematically play in people’s understanding of the natural and social worlds, and the interaction between them.
The mathematics specification builds on students’ prior learning and focuses on developing increasingly sophisticated and refined mathematical understanding, fluency, reasoning, computational thinking and problem solving. These capabilities enable students to respond to familiar and unfamiliar situations by employing mathematics to make informed decisions and solve problems efficiently.
The specification supports student learning across the whole educational system by ensuring that the links between the various components of mathematics, as well as the relationship between mathematics and other subjects, are emphasised. Mathematics is composed of multiple but interrelated and interdependent concepts and structures which students can apply beyond the mathematics classroom. For example, in science, understanding sources of error and their impact on the confidence of conclusions is vital; in geography, interpretation of data underpins the study of human populations and their physical environments; in history, students need to be able to imagine timelines and time frames to reconcile related events; and in English, deriving quantitative, logical and spatial information is an important aspect of making meaning of texts. Thus the understanding of mathematics developed through study at junior cycle can inform and support students’ learning across the whole educational system.

Learning about and through the arts is fundamental to an education that aspires to nurture and support the development of the whole person. Awareness of, involvement in, and appreciation of the arts enables students to encounter a rich world of creativity, imagination and innovation (Arts in Education Charter, 2012). The UN Declaration of Human Rights (Article 27) affirms the rights of everyone to ‘participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts’.

 

Through engaging with music,  students are offered opportunities to develop new skills, while drawing on their previous experiences. These previous experiences are often central to our existence as music is everywhere. From the moment we are born we are in a musical world. Music is a natural early connection between infant and caregivers. International research shows that from the very early months of a child’s life there is a human propensity to respond and engage with music. With music, students can immerse themselves intellectually, emotionally, physically and kinaesthetically in the learning experience. Music performance and composition are collaborative and interpersonal activities, where social skills are developed through the sharing of ideas, skills, or instruments. 

 

Music can provide an environment for the student where they are safe to explore, experiment and be allowed to take creative risks. The subject can engage students in learning that engages, inspires, challenges, provokes, exhilarates, and liberates. Students are encouraged to collaborate in the formation of ideas and the presentation of these ideas and to critically reflect on their work and the work of others. Through listening to the music of others, and assimilating this into their own ideas, students learn how musical works are created. Through understanding how to evaluate and critique the works of others, students learn to be self-reflective and improve on their own musical creations.

 

As a creative endeavour, music can facilitate the development of imaginative and exploratory experiences, where individuality and personality are provided with the opportunity to grow and be given a voice. The study of music offers lifelong opportunities to develop the imagination in unique ways, through listening to familiar and unfamiliar works, coming to know and understand sounds internally, creating sound pictures or stories and expressing feelings and emotions in sound. 

 

Learning music is intrinsically motivating, meaningful and a rewarding activity for young people because it is hands-on; fully engaging the students in activities that relate to and have a connection with the world experienced by them outside the classroom. Music fosters both the specific skills related to the subject, and a range of transferable skills that may apply to other individual and collaborative endeavours. Through movement, sound, symbol and image, engaging with music can transform people’s creative ideas into expressive works that communicate feelings, meanings and interpretations to a wider audience.

 

Music is important as a catalyst for building cultural capital within the individual student and the class collective. Through encountering and engaging with an array of music activities, we can ensure that we continue to develop future citizens that are culturally engaged, culturally aware and culturally connected. Being culturally aware heightens student understanding of both national and international cultural identities. With an increasingly diverse and pluralist population, this understanding of others through a cultural lens will encourage students to develop as responsible and ethical citizens. 

 

Music is a source of understanding history, reflecting the social and cultural context and the era of its creation. Music can portray the cultural identity of a country, the mood of the people or the thoughts of the individuals who live there. Music education brings the young person to an awareness and appreciation of their own unique cultural environment and ethos. In engaging students with the rich background of their native musical traditions as well as other musical genres, music education contributes to the students’ knowledge and understanding of others, their times, their cultures and traditions.

Science is a collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our desire to understand the world around us and the wider universe. Essentially, it is curiosity in thoughtful and deliberate action. Learning science through inquiry enables students to ask more questions, and to develop and evaluate explanations of events and phenomena they encounter.

 

The study of science enables students to build on their learning in primary school and to further develop their knowledge of and about science. Students enhance their scientific literacy by developing their ability to explain phenomena scientifically; their understanding of scientific inquiry; and their ability to interpret and analyse scientific evidence and data to draw appropriate conclusions.

 

Developing scientific literacy is important to social development. As part of this process students develop the competence and confidence needed to meet the opportunities and challenges of senior cycle sciences, employment, further education and life. The wider benefits of scientific literacy are well established, including giving students the capacity to make contributions to political, social and cultural life as thoughtful and active citizens who appreciate the cultural and ethical values of science. This supports students to make informed decisions about many of the local, national and global challenges and opportunities they will be presented with as they live and work in a world increasingly shaped by scientists and their work.

 

Science is not just a tidy package of knowledge, nor is it a step-by-step approach to discovery. Nonetheless, science is able to promote the development of analytical thinking skills such as problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making. Learning science in junior cycle can afford students opportunities to build on their learning of primary science and to activate intuitive knowledge to generate, explore and refine solutions for solving problems. This may not always yield the expected result, but this, in turn, can be the focus for deeper learning and help the student to develop an understanding of risk and a realisation that different approaches can be adopted. As students develop their investigative skills, they will be encouraged to examine scientific evidence from their own experiments and draw justifiable conclusions based on the actual evidence. In reviewing and evaluating their own and others’ scientific evidence and data, they will learn to identify limitations and improvements in their investigations. This collaborative approach will increase students’ motivation, and provide opportunities for working in groups and to develop the key skills of junior cycle.

 

In addition to its practical applications, learning science is a rewarding enterprise in its own right. Students’ natural curiosity and wonder about the world around them can be nurtured and developed through experiencing the joy of scientific discovery.

 

The development of this specification has been informed by the eight principles for junior cycle education that underpin the Framework for Junior Cycle, all of which have significance for the learning of science as promoted by this specification.

 

Visual Art is a subject that promotes teaching and learning through art, craft and design. For adolescents and young adults, this involves becoming familiar with and applying the  elements of art and principles of design, and the knowledge and skills associated with these processes, their histories and their contemporary practices. Visual Art also recognises and rewards a number of different forms of intelligence, including emotional intelligence; it develops personal qualities of expression and empathy.

Visual Art encompasses art, craft and design and involves practical work in a wide range of media leading to a specific outcome, e.g. an artwork, a design, architectural study, an installation or an event. Making art develops the learner’s imagination through developing an idea or concept and allows them to exercise personal responsibility for specific tasks.

Visual Art is ambiguous; there is no single ‘correct answer’ in Visual Art: The subject promotes divergent thinking and develops the learner’s ability to interpret, make judgements and express opinions on a work. It also promotes respect for the work and the opinions of others.

Visual Art is concerned with the personal, cognitive and physical fulfilment of the learner in both the present moment – producing work that gives personal pleasure and reward in the short-term, as well as in preparation for longer-term, more distant goals.

The qualities that Visual Art develops are crucial components of the rounded general education that all young people should experience. These personal characteristics and attributes include creativity, critical judgement, working with others or working individually, providing and receiving constructive criticism, and respecting differences.  

Visual Art provides the learner with a space within which it is safe to experiment, to fail and to learn. It allows learners to collaborate on ideas and work. It facilitates and encourages the questions a learner may raise in travelling a path that may not lead to an anticipated outcome or that may produce a different outcome to what was planned. It gives them the capacity to understand and to express ideas, feelings and opinions: both their own and those of others.

Contemporary culture is highly visual. Visual literacy is an essential requirement of active citizenship. It enhances the young person’s ability to interpret, critique and decode visual messages. The capacity to engage in critical thinking in the art class fosters the young person’s competence and confidence in responding to and engaging with the visual culture of the contemporary world and with the natural and built environments. It opens their minds to the traditions and values of other cultures and influences. Visual literacy and the ability to appreciate visual culture adds to the wealth of learning available through historical artefacts and to an understanding of the evolution of works of art, craft or design across the development of human society.

In Visual Art, students build on the progress and skills they have already achieved in primary school in order to help them further improve. Students of the subject will develop the transversal skills, such as creativity, collaboration, ability to question, risk- assessment , problem identification, problem-solving and management of their own emotions; skills that form a natural learning mechanism that can enhance their own development. Students learn how best to use traditional and contemporary technologies for both creative and operational purposes. All these skills and dispositions are key to future learning in senior cycle, higher education, and also in the world of work.

 

 

 

 

Each subject of the technology suite offers the student different experiences which contribute towards their education in technology education. As a result, preparing students for learning in the technology subjects is not just about teaching towards the technology but towards the skills that are fundamental to the technology subjects and are transferable into other areas of their learning. Skills that encourage the student to problem-solve through creation, innovation, communication, collaboration and exploration, all of which are developed in an active learning environment where students can advance their ideas from conception to realisation.

Wood Technology is a subject that will allow students to explore and learn about a key natural resource that nature has provided. Trees and wooden material have a unique relationship with nature and humankind. The sustainable use and management of this natural resource is important as the world faces the challenges of the 21st century. From habitats to construction or recreation to oxygen creation this resource can play a significant role in wellbeing of our planet. To this end it is important that citizens be given the opportunity to become knowledgeable about this resource, exploring its heritage and potential as a material for the future.

In Wood Technology, students will explore the natural and made world through the medium of design, seeking out opportunities to creatively and innovatively apply the material/resource in making and shaping their environment. Wood as a material resource has seen much innovation and change. Technological advances have created significant opportunities to expand the use of wood as a resource for a broad range of applications. However, the uniqueness of this material and craft is that many of the traditional applications and processes are still of value, transcending the test of time.

Learning in this subject will be active and student centred, with learners collaborating in the pursuit of knowledge and in the safe management of the technology classroom environment. Through the challenges posed by the design-based philosophy of the subject, students will develop the relevant knowledge, skills and values to bring ideas from conception to reality in a way that will allow them to be expressive, creative and innovative.

Leaving Certificate design and communication graphics involves comprehending, analysing and communicating information presented verbally or graphically. Problem solving and creative thinking skills are developed through the analysis and solution of problems in both two and three dimensions graphics. Graphics and design are communicated using a variety of media, including computer-aided design (CAD).  The main areas of study are: Plane and Descriptive Geometry, Communication of Design and Computer Graphics, and Applied Graphics.

Design and Communication Graphics is assessed at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level, by means of two assessment components: a student assignment, of which CAD forms a significant and compulsory element, and an examination paper.

 

 

 

Leaving Certificate construction studies provides students in the senior cycle of post-primary education with an introduction to the knowledge and skills involved in construction technology and construction materials and processes. Students develop their ability to communicate ideas and information and to apply accurate observation and scientific investigation through exploring materials and processes.

Construction studies is assessed at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level, by means of a written examination, a practical test, and an assessment of student project work.