Primary School Network: responding to curriculum overload


A strong message came from teachers and principal teachers during two phases of review of the Primary School Curriculum (1999) that they did not have enough time to 'teach it all.' The two factors that teachers cited were the size of the curriculum and the range of individual learning needs represented by children in their classes. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is responding to the challenge in a number of ways.

Re-presenting the Primary School Curriculum (1999)

Cover of Introduction to Primary Curriculum

During the 2009/2010 school year we worked with teachers to explore different formats for re-presenting curriculum subjects. We are re-presenting the curriculum content objectives, in order to make the content of the 11 curriculum books more accessible and user-friendly.

Take a look at the curriculum re-presentation materials.

Curriculum Planning Tool

Image of Curriculum Planning Tool

The curriculum planning tool was developed through our work with teachers and schools, representing the Primary School Curriculum and interrogating the issue of overload. It enables teachers to search for content objectives from the Primary School Curriculum by class, subject, strand or keyword, and print them out in a short-term or long-term plan at the click of a button.

Start using the curriculum planning tool.

Curriculum overload in primary schools: Voices from the Learning Site

Cover image of curriculum overload, teachers' voices

During the school year 2009/2010 two hundred and fifty eight people responded to three online surveys about the re-presented content objectives and curriculum overload in general. They included teachers from a range of school types and sizes from various parts of the country who used the re-presented curriculum materials in their classrooms as well as principals, parents and teacher educators, who shared their reflections on curriculum overload and on priorities in children's education at primary school. Click on the link below to read the report on the work.

Curriculum overload in Primary Schools: Experiences and reflections from the learning site (PDF, 915 KB)

Curriculum overload in primary schools: An overview of national and international experiences

Cover image of curriculum overload literature review

This overview has been developed to help us understand the curriculum overload issue and respond effectively to it. The paper begins by defining overload and then focuses on our experience in Ireland where teachers have reported acutely experiencing the overload issue and where we've seen a proliferation of policy and legislation governing children's primary education, in recent years. Key factors contributing to overload are discussed, international experiences are described and possible responses which may be relevant to Council's work in reviewing and improving the Primary School Curriculum (1999) are highlighted. The last section explores the relevance of the overload issue for children themselves and the world they live in today.

Curriculum overload in Primary Schools: An overview of national and international experiences  (PDF, 396 KB)