I am currently leading the reform of the Junior Cycle. A Framework for the revised Junior Cycle has been prepared. It contains 24 Statements of Learning which students should experience during their junior cycle. These 24 statements will provide the basis for school planning and evaluation. They will involve not only the combination of curriculum components (subjects and short courses) but also other key skills across all areas of learning.
The six key skills of Junior Cycle are ‘Managing Myself, Staying Well, Communicating, Being Creative, Working with Others, Managing Information and Thinking'. These key skills very much concentrate on soft skills and competences.
The Deputy may wish to note that the Teaching Council, which has statutory responsibility for the review and accreditation of programmes of initial teacher education, published criteria and guidelines for initial teacher education providers in 2011. These will form part of a consultation process. They form a bridge between the Council's policy and the development and implementation of reconceptualised programmes of initial teacher education in Higher Education Institutions, providing clarity for HEIs to enable them to ensure that their programmes meet the Council's accreditation requirements.
The National Strategy for Higher Education places a strong emphasis on the value of generic skills for the preparation of Irish graduates for the workplace and for their role as citizens. Skills identified by the ongoing OECD AHELO project due to report in March 2013 that should be incorporated into undergraduate education include analytic reasoning; critical thinking; written communication; leadership and team working skills. The Strategy recommends that higher education institutions explicitly address generic skills in their provision. Implementation of the Strategy is under way and is being overseen by a high level group chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. The implementation plan and progress reports are available on www.education.ie.