Time and support needed to deliver new curriculum 

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) welcomes today’s launch of the Primary Curriculum Framework by Minister for Education, Norma Foley.

The framework was finalised by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) prior to Christmas and sent to the Minister for Education for approval. It represents the culmination of several years of development and consultation by the NCCA with educational stakeholders and will provide the foundations for a new redeveloped Primary School Curriculum which will be implemented in the coming years.

The new framework will be used to guide and support the changes required to implement and embed a new curriculum.

It sets out the vision, principles, key competencies, structure, approaches to learning, teaching and assessment, and time allocations for a redeveloped curriculum. It also provides the blueprint for guiding the enhancement of primary and special education for the coming years.

Ireland’s existing Primary School Curriculum (1999), is the oldest in Europe and has been in dire need of a review.

The new framework sets out how the curriculum will be structured and presented in five broad curriculum areas:

  • Language
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education
  • Wellbeing
  • Arts Education
  • Social and Environmental Education

Specifications for these curriculum areas are currently being designed by development boards comprised of practicing primary teachers and other experts in primary education.

The INTO calls for the immediate publication of the document Supporting Systemwide Primary Curriculum Change, which accompanied the Framework for approval by the Minister. This important document, compiled by an expert working group of Irish and overseas academics sets out the conducive conditions necessary to support sustainable curriculum change.

Reacting to publication of the new primary curriculum framework, INTO General Secretary John Boyle said: 

Teachers and school leadership teams must be given dedicated time to engage with, understand, implement and embed the curriculum. The Department of Education and other stakeholders must undertake a clear and comprehensive communication strategy ensuring adequate resources including a comprehensive programme of in-person CPD to support curriculum change together with specific funding for school resources.

“The Department of Education must ensure coherence in the system so that the implementation of the new primary curriculum is prioritised and initiative overload does not occur.

“The reduction of primary class sizes to the EU average of 20 will be vital for the successful implementation of the framework, as will the restoration of promotional posts of responsibility.”

Circular 0017/2023 was issued to primary schools today and provides schools with background information on the framework and announces a half-day school closure before the end of this school year to enable schools to spend time engaging with the new framework.

Further details can be found here.