Last Wednesday, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) launched the new junior cycle level one programme in Croke Park. It is a significant development in the field of inclusive education. It will run parallel to mainstream junior cycle (formerly junior cert) and slots broadly into the national framework of awards at level one.

While the new programme hugely enhances the curriculum development in special schools, it can also be accessed in post-primary schools by students with special needs. It is the pathway to real inclusion. Students of all abilities can now access a junior cycle programme alongside their mainstream peers. Level one is a three-year or sometimes longer programme with short courses attached that are applicable to every student. Level two was introduced last year and level three is the new junior cycle in mainstream schools. Students of all abilities can now access a programme leading to certification. This is really significant for all our young people.