Education News

New Primary Curriculum Framework Launched

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD launched the new Primary Curriculum Framework for all primary and special schools.

The Primary Curriculum Framework will shape the work of all primary and special schools for the coming years. This is the first curriculum framework for primary education in Ireland. Under the framework, schools will have a dedicated structure underpinning learning, teaching and assessment.

The Primary Curriculum Framework is designed to cater for all primary and special schools and sets out the vision and principles for a redeveloped, modern curriculum.

The framework also introduces key competencies for children’s learning, setting out the main features and components for the full redevelopment of the primary school curriculum, detailing curriculum areas and subjects; and suggested time allocations. It introduces and expands aspects of learning including STEM Education, Modern Foreign Languages and a broader Arts education.

The Primary Curriculum Framework was developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) over a six-year period and draws on an extensive body of national and international research, working with a network of 60 primary schools, post-primary schools and preschools nationally, engaging closely with education partners and wider stakeholders, and conducting extensive consultation, including with primary school-aged children.

Minister Foley said, “this is a landmark day in the education system. This is the first framework for primary education and therefore a watershed moment for primary school communities who will benefit from the rich experiences it will provide for children, teachers, parents and the wider community. The framework has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment through a collaborative approach, informed by research, sustained work with school communities, wide consultation, and extensive deliberation.”

“The voices from the consultation, in particular, indicate the need for a curriculum that supports all children, celebrates children’s current childhood experiences and prepares them for their future experiences. The development of the primary curriculum also reflects the other interconnected developments in education and the progress of policies and strategies being worked on by my Department at this time. These include a new Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Strategy which is being developed at the moment and the second STEM Education Implementation Plan, which I published last week. I would like to thank the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment for their collaborative endeavour, their breadth of vision and indeed their commitment to continued excellence in education.”

The framework supports the development of a primary curriculum which:

  • Builds on the successes and strengths of previous curricula while recognising and responding to challenges, changing needs and priorities.
  • Provides agency and flexibility in schools.
  • Makes connections with what and how children learn in preschool, primary, special, and post-primary schools.
  • Identifies and responds to emerging priorities for children’s learning.
  • Changes how the curriculum is structured and presented.
  • Supports a variety of pedagogical approaches and strategies with assessment central to learning and teaching.

The Primary Curriculum Framework emphasises the importance of curriculum integration, inclusive practice, inquiry-based learning and playful pedagogy. The framework will guide the development of the specifications for each of the curriculum areas that will be introduced in the coming years.

It is recognised that the introduction of the Primary Curriculum Framework will require time and support for teachers and school leaders to become familiar with the contents of the framework. The need to engage at whole-school level is required in order to develop all teachers’ and school leaders’ understanding of the framework. This will be supported by the provision of professional development opportunities, and supporting materials.

The Department of Education support services will continue to provide their suite of professional development opportunities at primary level, now drawing connection with the framework content. Discrete professional development will also be provided for each of the forthcoming curriculum area specifications in the coming years.

A copy of the framework is available here

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