The well-being area of learning will be introduced to the junior cycle programme from the start of the 2017-18 school year. Up to 400 hours will be available for learning in the area of well-being in the junior cycle. It will begin with a minimum of 300 hours of timetabled engagement from 2017 and move to the full complement of time as the new junior cycle is fully implemented in schools.
The well-being area of learning will provide learning opportunities that will enhance the physical, mental, emotional and social well-being of students. It will enable students to build life skills and develop a strong sense of connectedness to the school and the community. The development of this area of learning is part of the holistic approach to the well-being of students. Physical education, social, personal and health education and civic, social and political education will be included in the well-being programme, with guidance. The implementation of school policies such as anti-bullying and substance misuse will support the programme. During an extensive consultation process conducted for the junior cycle reform, young people identified social and lifestyle skills as the most essential young people should learn between first and third year. It is expected that most of the assessment activities in the area of well-being will be classroom-based and formative in nature.
Learning in well-being will be assessed by the students' teachers and reported on to students and parents or guardians during the junior cycle and in the junior cycle profile of achievement.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed draft guidelines to support schools in planning their well-being programmes. The views of teachers, school leaders, parents, students, other education partners and those with an interest in and commitment to young people's well-being are being sought on the guidelines. This consultation process continues to the end of June. Bilateral meetings have taken place with strategic partners in the work, including the National Centre for Guidance in Education, the HSE, the Professional Development Service for Teachers and Junior Cycle for Teachers among others. Feedback received will inform the final version of the guidelines due for publication in September 2016.