I thank the Deputy for the question. The framework for the junior cycle presents a dual approach to assessment and it supports student learning over the three years of the cycle. It measures achievement at the end of those three years. This dual approach reduces the focus on one externally assessed examination as a means of assessing students and increases the prominence given to classroom-based assessment and formative assessment, providing a more rounded assessment of the education of each young person. This change of emphasis arises from an acknowledgement that students learn best when teachers provide feedback that helps students to understand how their learning can be improved. As part of the phasing in of the new framework for the junior cycle, the new junior cycle music specification will be introduced to schools from September 2018.
The junior cycle profile of achievement is a school-based award issued by schools that draws upon and reports on achievement across a wide range of assessments, including classroom-based assessments by teachers, as well as State examinations marked by the State Examinations Commission. The assessment of a number of practical subjects, including music, for the purpose of the junior cycle profile of achievement will comprise two classroom-based assessments undertaken in recognised schools, a practical examination and a written examination.
Where students take extra subjects outside of their school setting, these subjects cannot satisfy the requirements for classroom-based assessments by recognised schools and cannot, therefore, be included as part of the profile of achievement. Students who wish to study additional subjects, such as music, outside their school have a number of other certification avenues open to them.