The Irish Primary Curriculum:
Primary education consists of an eight year cycle: junior infants, senior infants, and first to sixth classes. The primary curriculum aims to provide a broad learning experience and encourages a rich variety of approaches to teaching and learning that cater for the different needs of individual children. The primary curriculum is designed to nurture the child in all dimensions of his or her life—spiritual, moral, cognitive, emotional, imaginative, aesthetic, social and physical. Some aspects of the primary curriculum are under review. A new language curriculum is currently being developed.
The Primary School Curriculum (1999) outlines the contents of children’s learning—the what and how of children’s learning—for children’s first eight years in school, from junior infants to sixth class. The curriculum aims to:
- develop each child’s potential to the full.
- encourage a love of learning.
- help children develop skills they will use all their lives.
The curriculum is presented in seven areas, some of which are further subdivided into subjects. These are:
- Language: Gaeilge and English
- Social, environmental and scientific education (SESE): history, geography and science
- Arts education: visual arts, music and drama
- Physical education
- Social, personal and health education (SPHE)
- Religious or ethical education is the responsibility of the different school patron bodies.
Assessment in primary school is about building a picture over time of a child’s learning progress across the curriculum. The teacher uses different ways to gather evidence about how and what the child learns on an ongoing basis. This information is used to celebrate the child’s current learning, and to help make decisions about next steps for future learning.