Primary Curriculum Review, Phase 1: English, Visual Arts and Mathematics
The NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) gathered data for phase 1 of Primary Curriculum Review during the 2003/04 school year. In all, 698 teachers from 170 schools responded to the Review and Reflection Template for Teachers, and groups of children, parents, teachers and the principals from six different schools participated in interviews as part of a school case study. Four key findings were highlighted in the two research strands.
The NCCA responded to these findings by working with schools to develop a number of resources to support them in teaching and learning. These are summarised below.
Finding: Teachers identified the organisation of the English Curriculum according to four overarching strands as a key challenge when planning children's learning. The four strands were reported to be vague and hard to understand. Findings showed that many teachers had abandoned the strands or had replaced them with the strand units.
Resource: In a direct response to this the NCCA published, Additional support material: Structure of the English Curriculum (2005). This document provides an alternative structure for the English Curriculum with oral language, reading and writing as the overarching strands.
Click on the picture below to view the document
Finding: Parents reported that their engagement with their children’s learning in the home was limited by the lack of information available to them about learning in primary schools.
Resource: In March 2006, the NCCA launched the DVD for parents, The What, Why and How of children’s learning in primary school. It is available in five languages, English, Gaeilge, French, Lithuanian and Polish. The DVD was distributed to all primary schools in April that year. It is available from your local full time education centre (while stocks last) and can also to viewed online.
Click on the picture below to view the DVD
To support schools in using the DVD with parents, the NCCA has developed an e-booklet,The what, why and how of children's learning in primary school: Information for parents. The booklet can be downloaded, customised, photocopied and distributed to parents to accompany the DVD.
Finding: Teachers’ strong ownership of the child-centred theories underpinning the Primary School Curriculum, contrasted with their limited ownership of child-centred teaching and learning methods. Findings showed that teachers needed much greater exemplification of methods of teaching and learning with the Primary School Curriculum including:
- Active learning
- Environment-based learning
- Collaborative learning
- Differentiated learning (particularly in multi-class settings)
- Higher-order thinking and problem solving.
Resource: The NCCA is currently developing a website which will show what teaching and learning with the curriculum looks like in different class contexts. ACTION (Assessment and Curriculum Teaching Innovation On the Net) will provide a platform for showcasing different teaching methodologies that can be used with the Primary School Curriculum. Internet video, pod casts, samples of children’s work, samples of teachers’ materials, photographs and various other support materials will be housed on ACTION at www.action.ncca.ie
Finding: Findings showed that teachers required greater advice on using assessment to support teaching and learning. Although almost 100% of teachers reported using observation at least a few times each week, teachers were unsure of how to record their observations as evidence of assessment, and how to use their observations to make decisions about teaching and learning.
Teachers requested greater advice on the use of different assessment methods and resources and methods of reporting information about children’s learning to parents.
Resources: The NCCA launched the document Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools in November 2007. In responding to teachers’ requests for information on recording and reporting children’s progress with the curriculum, the NCCA developed Report Card Templates for primary schools. In order to help schools with the process of reporting to parents the NCCA also developed leaflets for parents explaining the meaning of standardised test scores.
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An Evaluation of Curriculum Implementation in English, Visual arts and Mathematics was also completed by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science (DES) in Spring 2005. On May 11th, 2005, the NCCA and the DES presented findings from both reports to the education partners at an invitational seminar in Dublin entitled, The Primary Curriculum in Schools.
Summary findings from both the NCCA’s review and the evaluation by the Inspectorate, DES, were published in a booklet (September, 2005) and distributed to all primary schools. Click on the following link to access the booklet:
Primary Curriculum Review: Overview
Primary Curriculum Review: Phase 2
Science in Primary Schools: Phase 1 (Commissioned research)
Primary Curriculum Review Publications
Primary School Curriculum