HCS / Information / Curriculum

At the heart of every school is the Curriculum offered to the students. The core curriculum is set by the Department of Education & Skills and teachers are charged with its interpretation. How the curriculum is interpreted is critical to the success of a school. Recent subject inspections have praised the quality of teaching and learning in H.C.S.

Our school offers the following courses

  • Junior Cycle Programmes leading to the Junior Certificate Examination (1st to 3rd yr.)
  • Senior Cycle Programmes leading to the Leaving Certificate Examination (5th & 6th yr.)
  • Leaving Certificate Applied Programme leading to the Leaving Certificate Applied Examination (5th & 6th yr.)
  • The Transition Year Programme while optional, is strongly recommended for students after their Junior Certificate and prior to senior cycle. (4th yr.)

Junior Cycle Curriculum

All students take the following Department of Education and Skills programmes for the three years of Junior Cycle: Irish, English, Maths, History, Geography, Science and C.S.P.E. (Civic Social & Political Education).

Students have a choice of 3 subjects from the following examination subjects French,
German, Spanish, Business Studies, Music, Materials Technology Wood or Metal, Technical Graphics, Art, Home Economics.

Students also study:

Religion, Physical Education, Information Technology, and SPHE (includes Pastoral Care, relationship & sexuality education, substance abuse and bullying)

All examination subjects at Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate level are offered at higher level.

Note 1: Irish – There are very special circumstances whereby some students can be exempt from the study of Irish. Please consult the Principal.

Note 2: Religion – The Department of Education & Science religion programme is taught by our teachers in the Religion Department. This programme studies the main World Religions and all students follow this programme unless parents specifically consult with the principal.

Note 3: Should a student, for medical reasons, not be in a position to follow the normal P.E. programme, it is essential that the year-head and the P.E. teachers are provided with a medical certificate.


Civic, Social and Political Education is a core subject at Junior Cycle level. The subject aims to prepare students for active participation in everyday life. It is based on human rights and social responsibility.

It enables students to understand the rights and responsibilities of the individual in
society and the workings and nature of democracy. It is concerned with issues at personal,
local, national and global levels.

As well as sitting an exam in the subject in the Junior Certificate, students must complete an action project on an issue relevant to the course. This is normally prepared in second year and completed in third year.

The Transition Year Programme

This programme was introduced to schools to allow our Irish school going population spend more time at second level as it was felt that, in comparison with other European countries, our students leave school and arrive at third-level too young and in some ways too immature.

We offer an optional and very popular Transition Year programme in 4th year. This year allows students to spend and extra year in school without the constraints imposed by the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations.

The programme aims to promote personal responsibility, maturity and social awareness and to prepare students for adult and working life.

Core Leaving Certificate subjects such as Irish, English, Maths and a modern language are maintained along with History, Geography, Science, Religion and P.E. A range of options such as Construction Studies, Art, Music, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, Engineering and catering are offered. Short modules in drama, judo, fencing, modern & salsa dancing and music composition are also offered. Students complete one two week work placement module.
Students go on one overnight trip during their Transition Year.

The cost of the Transition Year Programme is €320 per student which covers photocopying, transport, all trips including the overnight stays, speakers etc.
A deposit of €120 is required by to secure a place, a second instalment of €100 by the end of May with the balance payable before August 20th .

Research has shown that students who complete a Transition Year Programme score on average 50 more points in the Leaving Certificate than those who go on directly to Leaving Certificate. We recommend that students, particularly those hoping to sit a number of honours subjects, give serious consideration to spending this extra year at school.

Senior Cycle Curriculum

Students proceeding to the Leaving Certificate Examination study 7 examination subjects over a 2 year period:

All students take the following subjects: Irish (unless exempt), English, Maths.

Students then have choice of 4 subjects from the following; Physics, Chemistry, Biology, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Business, Economics, Accountancy, Music, Art, Home Economics (Social & Scientific), Construction Studies, Engineering, Technical Drawing, Religious Studies.

Some students study Applied Maths in school as an eighth subject.

Students also study: Physical Education, Religion, Information Technology, Guidance & Pastoral Care. We also offer classes in Lithuanian, Romanian, Polish and Russian.

At Senior Cycle Computer Studies, all modules of ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) are available to students. It is expected that all students will complete the modules on offer. The cost of this ECDL Programme is much lower than it would be if students were to do it privately.

We have a very high transfer of students from Junior Cycle to Senior Cycle – (almost 100%).
Our school completion rate is above the national average. When a child comes to us in first year it is expected that they will remain with us until they have successfully completed their Leaving Certificate.

Students are assisted in their choice of subjects in 3rd year by the Guidance department. We hold an information evening for parents of 3rd year students during term 2.

Leaving Certificate Applied

The school offers an alternative to the traditional Leaving Certificate called the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme. This course is intended for students who might find the traditional Leaving Certificate too difficult or who have little interest in following an academic programme past Junior Certificate. It has proved very successful in retaining a number of students in second level education to Leaving Certificate standard who otherwise would have left school.

It is different from the traditional Leaving Certificate in a number of ways. It does not rely on one final examination at the end of sixth year. Students’ classwork is monitored during the year and marks are awarded. A number of projects must be completed over the two year programme and these are graded at regular intervals. These two elements account for two thirds of the final grade. An exam at the end of 6th year makes up the final third.

Attendance is hugely important.
An average attendance of 90% is necessary before class marks can be awarded.

The subjects studied are English and Communication, Irish, French, Mathematical Applications, Social Education, Construction and Manufacturing, Hotel Catering and Tourism, Enterprise, Information Technology, Art, Physical Education and Religion. The course also involves three two week sessions of work experience, two in fifth year and one in sixth year.

While the LCA will not allow students direct access to university, it does open the way to a number of Post Leaving Certificate courses in a range of areas that the student may otherwise not have access to.

Students and parents receive guidance and advice in relation to LCA during 3rd year.
Fee for LCA 1 is €80 and for LCA 2 is €100. A deposit of €40 is required by 23rd May to secure a place.

Additional Programmes

The school’s philosophy is to educate the whole person, as far as is possible. We therefore offer programmes in Pastoral Care, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Substance Abuse and RSE (Relationship and Sexuality Education). These programmes are taught in the school and supplemented by outside speakers with expertise in these areas. We also hold meetings for parents to link in with what is happening in school. The following information on these various programmes may be of interest to you.