The curriculum rollout must be phased and well-supported

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has made a substantive submission to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) on the draft primary curriculum specifications. The comprehensive submission includes over a hundred recommendations, reflecting the views of thousands of our members who participated in our consultative process since Easter. We are deeply grateful to all who contributed.

We believe that the voices of teachers and school leaders should be listened to in the curriculum rollout. These professionals understand the classroom’s practical realities and can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. Their experiences and feedback should guide the development and implementation process, ensuring the curriculum is both practical and effective.

The imminent rollout of the redeveloped curriculum must address the unique needs of all pupils, including those with special and additional educational needs. Early intervention programmes, along with social, emotional, and behavioural supports, are essential. The Government must make a concerted effort to provide schools with adequate therapeutic, psychological and social services. The success of the new curriculum depends on the availability of these support systems, ensuring that every child can fully participate in their education.

The NCCA has established a foundation with the Primary Curriculum Framework, emphasising thematic and integrative teaching, inclusive education, diversity and updated assessment practices. However, the success of the redeveloped curriculum requires more than just a framework; it needs sufficient time and resources.

The INTO stresses that this process must not be rushed, as hasty implementation could negatively impact education outcomes for years. It is crucial for the Department of Education to commit to a phased and well-supported rollout, ensuring every teacher is adequately prepared and every school is sufficiently resourced.

The Department of Education must also recognise that there will be a cost associated with these changes. Cutting corners is not an option. The INTO is ready to act decisively should there be any attempt to implement the curriculum on a shoestring budget, which would inevitably compromise the working conditions and well-being of our members. We will not allow the quality of education or the professional dignity of our teachers to be undermined by insufficient funding or support. As we move forward in the coming years, it is essential that all stakeholders work collaboratively to create a curriculum that stands the test of time. The most innovative curriculum in the world has no value if it is not sufficiently resourced and supported to enable teachers to implement it.

We must build on the dedication shown by Ireland’s primary teachers over the decades and equip them with the tools needed to deliver a redeveloped curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils in the coming years.

Speaking on the publication of the INTO’s submission, President Carmel Browne said:

It is crucial that the redeveloped curriculum’s specifications are realistic, practical, and supported by comprehensive professional development and toolkits. The INTO calls on the Department of Education to provide thorough professional development opportunities, including face-to-face CPD, adequate resourcing and sufficient time for the successful implementation of the new curriculum. Together with key education stakeholders, we can build a curriculum that will stand the test of time and provide every child with the chance to thrive. It is the responsibility of the government to provide the resources and supports necessary for the new curriculum to succeed. Politicians who hope to be in government when the redeveloped curriculum is being rolled out must clearly indicate that they will make primary education a top priority.