Junior Cycle Step Up Project report launched: results of Stratford College's teaching and learning practices

Step Up Project 9 March2022
NEWS / 9 March 2022

In 2018 Stratford College in Rathgar, Dublin 6 was one of 9 schools nationwide who were chosen to participate in a Department of Education initiative called Step Up. The goals identified for the Step Up project were to achieve higher quality learning experiences and outcomes for students through more effective implementation of aspects of the Framework for Junior Cycle (2015). Stratford College’s report can be accessed at the following link here.

A report on the results of the work of Stratford College to develop their practice in relation to the implementation of the new Junior Cycle curriculum to a highly effective level, was launched today (9th March) at an online event which was attended by members of the wider education community nationally, with closing comments by the Chief Inspector of the Department of Education, Harold Hislop.

The teachers in Stratford College say that participating in the project provided a superb insight into a student's Junior Cert learning journey. They got to see how each subject was teaching the same key skills, and by unifying the approach students would have less conflicting advice. They also saw how it was possible to teach thematically across disparate subjects such as Business, Science, and English, this cohesion allowed for more higher-order thinking to occur amongst students as they were now becoming experts in a topic that they could apply across three classroom-based assessments (CBAs).

Stratford College now has witnessed a 61% decrease in the number of students who find the CBA stressful and an 84% increase in students’ abilities to identify similar skills required across the CBA process.They have now brought the '10 Steps to CBA Success' booklet to all the other CBAs as they have rolled out.

Stratford College Teacher and Deputy Principal, Ms. Siobhan Reynolds led the project in their school, along with Ms. Leona Talbot, and Ms. Aileen O’Sullivan & Ms. Helen Bruder.

Speaking about the project, Ms Reynolds commented:

“We could see the potential for deeper learning opportunities if we were to collaborate by following similar instructions around the teaching of key skills. We also decided to trial an approach of collaborating thematically across the classroom-based assessments (CBAs) in different subjects, to see if that would further support students. We also created a 10 step booklet to help students see the similar skills that were being developed through the CBA process. We were delighted at how this cohesive approach to their CBAs really helped to lessen their stress and anxiety around this process.

After the first year of classroom-based assessments (CBAs) for second years in three subjects (2017/18), our students spoke to us about the challenges they were experiencing with CBAs. Those challenges included making connections between CBA tasks across subjects and time management difficulties. We then surveyed our students’ experience of CBAs in English, Business, and Science to gather more information on their learning experience.

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