Meet the Faces Behind Ireland’s Curriculum Developments

In this issue of info@ncca, we introduce you to two of the staff who work on curriculum and assessment developments in NCCA. Get to know their stories, passions, and journeys that have led them to where they are today.

13 March, 2024

Meet the Faces Behind Ireland’s Curriculum Developments

Donna Carolan, Acting Director, Curriculum and Assessment 

Donna lives in Co. Louth but she will always be proud of her Roscommon roots. Donna has been an Education Officer with NCCA since 2021 and currently works across Early Childhood and Primary Developments. Prior to joining NCCA, Donna worked as a primary teacher and was an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education at the Institute of Education, DCU.

Donna’s first engagement with NCCA was in 2011 when she worked on the development of support materials and continuous professional development courses on how Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework could support learning and teaching in infant classes of primary schools. Donna welcomes the clarity provided on the centrality of play and playful approaches in the Primary Curriculum Framework and looks forward to her daughter experiencing continuity in her learning as she transitions from preschool to primary school over the coming years.

Donna holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership and a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. Both qualifications reflect her passion for education. She is about to start her PhD and will be exploring play and playful approaches at the senior end of primary school.

It’s not all work and study for Donna and her love of travel has brought her to many parts of the world – Sydney holds a special place in her heart, and she looks forward to returning there some day. For now though, locations closer to home and shorter flight times are the deciding factors when travelling with a toddler!

John Copley, Education Officer

John lives in Limerick City and has been an Education Officer with NCCA since 2022, working on the draft primary curriculum specification for Social and Environmental Education, in addition to editing info@ncca. Previously John taught in a large suburban primary school in Limerick and in the British International School of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where he also held the post of Design Technology Coordinator.

John’s first involvement with an NCCA project was almost a decade ago when he took part in the pilot of the Negotiated Integrated Curriculum initiative looking at the importance of student voice and agency in their learning. He also engaged in the initial consultation for the Primary Mathematics Curriculum in 2017 as a representative for his school. John looks forward to the curriculum developments taking place, with an Updated Aistear and redeveloped Primary School Curriculum. He is particularly excited by the opportunities and learning experiences these will provide for his daughter when she begins preschool and primary school.

Aside from curriculum developments, John is passionate about continued lifelong learning holding a Master of Education Degree from Mary Immaculate College while, also, recently completing an Advanced Diploma in Law and Education at King’s Inns. The knowledge and skills acquired from these qualifications are invaluable in John’s day-to-day work in curriculum development.

Outside of working with NCCA, John has a range of diverse interests, particularly those of a sporting nature. John is an avid golfer who still hasn't given up on his dream of playing (or at least attending) the Ryder Cup when it takes place in Limerick in 2027, while also being a huge fan of Munster and Irish Rugby.