NCCA uses cookies so that you have the best possible browsing experience on our website. If you agree that we can store and use cookies just click "Accept and Close" or you can learn more about cookies.

NCCA logo
An Chomhairle Náisiúnta Curaclaim agus Measúnachta
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

Curriculum Review and Redevelopment

NCCA is reviewing and redeveloping the Primary School Curriculum. We are working with teachers and early childhood practitioners, school leaders, parents and children, management bodies, researchers and other stakeholders to develop a high-quality curriculum for the next 10 - 15 years.

Following publication of the report on the consultation on the structure of the primary curriculum and how time is allocated within it in January 2018, work is now focused on a draft framework for a redeveloped curriculum. This draft framework will be the focus of further public consultation towards the end of 2019 and into the first half of 2020. The development of the draft framework involves exploring key aspects of a primary curriculum through

 Timeline for Review and Redevelopment

January - June 2017 Consultation on Structure and Time
January 2018 Publication of Structure and Time Report
March 2018 Seminar 1 – 'The purpose of a primary curriculum'. Review and redevelopment of the primary curriculum
March - April 2018 Call for participation in Schools Forum
May 2018 Forum Meeting 1
May 2018 Seminar 2 – ‘Powerful Synergies’ (Powerful pedagogies, expressions of integration, transversal competencies and the role of knowledge in a redeveloped curriculum)
June 2018 Forum Meeting 2
September 2018 Forum Meeting 3
October 2018 Seminar 3 – ‘New Horizons’ (Curriculum alignment and progression between early childhood education and care and primary school)
October 2018 Meetings with parents on the review and redevelopment of the primary curriculum
October 2018 Forum Meeting 4
November 2018 Seminar 4 – ‘Enhancing Learning Journeys’ (Theoretical perspectives on children’s learning, Parents’ voice in curriculum review and redevelopment)
November 2018 Forum Meeting 5
December 2018 Forum Meeting 6
January 2019 Forum Meeting 7
January 2019 Seminar 5 - ‘Charting the journey forward’ (Analysis of international audit, aligning assessment)
February 2019 Forum Meeting 8
March 2019 Forum Meeting 9
May 2019 Forum Meeting 10
June 2019 Forum Meeting 11
December 2019 Publication of draft primary curriculum framework for consultation

 

Please fill out the below form to receive:

  • Updates on the review and redevelopment of the primary school curriculum
  • Links to consultations
  • Calls for expression of interest in events 

Consultation

January 2017 to June 2017 saw an extensive consultation on two sets of proposals related to the future redevelopment of the Primary School Curriculum. This was the first time, in almost twenty years, that those working in primary education had an opportunity to consider the structure of the curriculum, what it should comprise and how time should be allocated within it. A big thank you to everyone who contributed their thoughts and views on the future of children’s learning in Ireland. 

 
The Consultation Report provides a detailed overview of the entire consultation process and is available to download here. As well as highlighting key findings from the consultation, this report outlines the next phase of the work including further opportunities for you to get involved and contribute your views.

Below you can watch the proceedings of our Consultative Conference in Dublin Castle.

Welcome: John Hammond, Acting CEO Welcome: John Hammond, Acting CEO
The Primary Curriculum: What is and what might be  Arlene Forster, Deputy CEO, NCCA The Primary Curriculum: What is and what might be Arlene Forster, Deputy CEO, NCCA
Keynote address:  Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos Ireland Keynote address: Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos Ireland
Children’s Voices Children’s Voices
Experiences from the classroom: teachers and principal Experiences from the classroom: teachers and principal
Panel discussion: Facilitated by Arlene Forster Panel discussion: Facilitated by Arlene Forster
Richard Bruton, T.D.  Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, T.D. Minister for Education and Skills
Brigid McManus, Chairperson of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment Brigid McManus, Chairperson of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment
Professor Mark Morgan Professor Mark Morgan


 

The Schools Forum consists of 44 primary schools, post-primary schools and preschools from across the country. Together, these represent the rich diversity of school contexts in Ireland. Teachers and practitioners meet every 4-6 weeks as a ‘Schools Forum’ to guide and help shape the review and redevelopment of the curriculum. Parents have also been sharing their hopes and ideas about a primary curriculum. In the words of one teacher, the Schools Forum provides a space where, parents and teachers have an opportunity to ponder big questions such as what we value in education, what its purpose is, how and what children should be taught, what’s important in our current context and what the future might demand.

The Forum is providing the NCCA with opportunities to:

  • Work with teachers/practitioners and schools/preschools as central agents in curriculum development
  • Augment the short research papers, curriculum seminars and internal NCCA processes at the ‘practice’ level
  • Learn from schools/preschools as sites of curriculum creativity
  • Receive constructive feedback ‘soundings’ on research
  • Generate discourse, commentary, and feedback on the development of the draft framework for the Redeveloped PSC. 

The Forum is providing schools/preschools with opportunities to:

  • Work collaboratively and share their ideas, experiences, and suggestions for future directions for a redeveloped primary curriculum
  • Ground research in practice by offering feedback on a suite of research papers as a whole staff or individual.
  • Share the work of the Forum at a local level, for example, through Boards of Management, Parents Associations, and other local networks.
  • Learn about the processes involved in the redevelopment of the PSC
  • Attend, engage with and contribute to the NCCA curriculum seminars.

Below is a brief outline of the ideas considered in the Forum meetings to date.

Pedagogy and integration 

Forum Meeting 1
  • Strengths and challenges of the ’99 curriculum
  • Priorities for redevelopment
  • Hopes for the Forum and potential challenges in the work
Forum Meeting 2
  • Values in a redeveloped curriculum
  • Contents of a potential overview
Forum Meeting 3
  • Supporting whole school engagement with the Forum
  • Working with parents
  • Further conversations on values
  • Powerful pedagogies
Forum Meeting 4
  • Key competencies
  • The role of knowledge in a redeveloped curriculum
Forum Meeting 5
  • Supporting whole school engagement with the Forum
  • Alignment in the early years
Forum Meeting 6
  • Expressions of integration
  • Learning theories
Forum Meeting 7
  • International Audit of curricula, key findings, and synthesis
  • Review of proposed aims and principles
Forum Meeting 8
  • Further review of proposed aims and principles
  • Considerations of assessment
  • Key competencies
Forum Meeting 9
  • Curriculum organisers
  • Time allocation
  • Aims, principles, and competencies 
Forum Meeting 10
  • Pedagogy and integration
  • Curriculum planning
  • Inclusion and diversity
Forum Meeting 11
  • Planning
  • Assessment
  • Key competencies

 

During the second strand of this piece, the Forum will work in a developmental way, trialing ideas about time allocation, key competencies, integration etc in their own context and feeding back to the NCCA.

Following the publication of the report on the consultation on the structure of the primary curriculum and how time is allocated within it, the next phase of work focuses on an overview of a redeveloped curriculum. This draft overview will be the focus of further public consultation in 2019. The development of the overview involves exploring key aspects of a primary curriculum through

• Working with schools and settings
• Learning from research
• A series of invitational seminars.

The first seminar in this series took place on March 21st and over one hundred attendees including teachers, principals and other stakeholders in education deliberated about the purpose of a primary curriculum and explored its values and principles

The dialogue and insights from the seminar will feed into the curriculum redevelopment work.

Dr. Jones Irwin Dr. Jones Irwin
Dr. Thomas Walsh Dr. Thomas Walsh
Panel discussion: Reflecting on the learning Panel discussion: Reflecting on the learning
Professor Dominic Wyse Professor Dominic Wyse
Professor Louis Volante Professor Louis Volante
Dr Karen Bacon Dr Karen Bacon
Carol McGuinness Carol McGuinness

The third in a series of seminars took place on October 3rd. The seminar considered how a redeveloped primary curriculum could provide continuity and progression for children’s learning between the two preschool years and the initial years of primary school. The seminar brought together early childhood practitioners, teachers, policy-makers from government departments and other agencies and researchers together to consider the potential of a more holistic and integrated curriculum structure for the early years of primary education building on, and extending children’s preschool experiences. A draft paper Investigation of preschool and early primary education provision for children from birth-8 years of age by the OECD along with The Preschool to Primary School Transition Initiative Final Report (NCCA, 2018) and The Transition to Primary Education: Insights from the Growing Up in Ireland Study (2018) by Professor Emer Smyth, Economic and Social Research Institute, supported and framed discussions at this seminar.

Dr. Alejandra Cortazar Dr. Alejandra Cortazar
Dr. Harold Hislop Dr. Harold Hislop
Bernie McNally Bernie McNally

The fourth in a series of seminars 'Enhancing Learning Journeys', took place on November 29th.

This seminar focused on how children learn and the implications for classroom practice. The research paper, 'Theoretical perspectives on children's learning and development: Crafting a Responsive Pedagogy for a Redeveloped Primary Curriculum', by Dr Emer Ring, Dr Lisha O'Sullivan, Marie Ryan and Patrick Burke from Mary Immaculate College, informed discussions as attendees explored how a redeveloped curriculum might take account of new thinking in relation to how children learn and develop during their primary school years

The second part of the seminar considered parents' perspectives on a redeveloped primary curriculum. Findings were presented from the NCCA's focus group meetings with parents around the country (October 2018). A panel of parents also responded to questions sharing their views, hopes, and expectations for a redeveloped curriculum.

 

Crafting a responsive pedagogy - learning theories Crafting a responsive pedagogy - learning theories
Parents' panel discussion Parents' panel discussion

The fifth and final seminar in the current series on the ongoing review and redevelopment of the primary curriculum took place on January 31st with over 120 stakeholders coming for further deliberation and reflection on what a redeveloped primary curriculum might look like.

The first part of the seminar explored the content of a redeveloped primary curriculum. To assist with this, Sharon O’Donnell outlined findings from an audit of primary curricula internationally. The second part of the seminar focused on assessment. The research paper, “All for Learning": Aligning Assessment, Learning and Teaching in Curricular Reform and Implementation by Dr Zita Lysaght, Dr Darina Scully and Prof Michael O’Leary from CARPE-DCU; Dr Damian Murchan from TCD; and Dr Gerry Shiel from the ERC, informed lively discussions as attendees explored how a redeveloped curriculum might take account of new thinking in relation to assessment in the primary school years.

 

 

Aligning Assessment, Learning and Teaching in Curricular Reform and Implementation Aligning Assessment, Learning and Teaching in Curricular Reform and Implementation
International audit of early years and primary curriculum content: Key findings - Sharon O’Donnell International audit of early years and primary curriculum content: Key findings - Sharon O’Donnell