Staff Spotlight: 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.

24 May, 2024

Staff Spotlight: Meet the Faces Behind Ireland’s Curriculum Developments

Dr Derek Grant, Director Curriculum and Assessment  


In 2016 I joined the ranks of NCCA as an Education Officer seconded from my school in rural Cavan to work on the Primary Curriculum Review and Redevelopment.  My initial brief was to work on the consultation considering proposals for the future structure of and time allocations across the curriculum. NCCA had a smaller number of staff back then compared to now, but the pre-requisites of teamwork and partnership in all our work remains the same. 


My previous roles of deputy principal and principal along with my work in Initial Teacher Education, and my completed doctoral studies have been invaluable to me both as an Education Officer and, since 2019, as a Director. Working on early childhood curriculum developments, including the Mo Scéal Reporting Templates and on updating Aistear, has given me a strong understanding of the learning, development and wellbeing of babies, toddlers and young children. For now, I’ve stepped back from early childhood developments to focus solely on the redevelopment of the primary curriculum, including the public consultation on the Draft Primary Curriculum Specifications.  


There have been many highlights since joining NCCA but the launch of the Primary Curriculum Framework in March 2023 stands out as an historic milestone in Irish primary and special education.  


‘Is your journey really necessary?’ was a slogan of World War 2. It asked people to stop and think as to whether they had their priorities right. In NCCA, I may be consulting with early years professionals and teachers, carrying out research, drafting text for a curriculum specification, but this question is always to the fore of my thoughts in considering current issues and trends in curriculum in Ireland.  


Mary-Elaine Tynan, Education Officer

A graduate of UCD, having studied English and French and a MA in Literature and Drama, I worked as secondary school teacher in Dublin for a number of years and taught English, French, CSPE and Drama.  

I joined NCCA in 2018 as an Education Office and spent my first five years working on new Leaving Certificate language specifications; Polish; Lithuanian; Portuguese; Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. Since 2022, when the Minister announced the introduction of two new Leaving Certificate subjects, I have been able to use my studies in theatre and drama and my passion for film, in my work on the development of Leaving Certificate Drama, Film and Theatre Studies. This, along with English text list working groups, has been my focus for the past 18 months. It is very exciting to see this new subject close to completion and I am really looking forward to when it will be introduced into schools in September 2025. 

Building on my classroom experience, I've also held education roles in a number of organisations including Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT); Professional Development Support for Teachers (PDST) and National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT) and as a PME supervisor in the School of Education in TCD.  Before teaching in Ireland, I spent a very exciting number of years in Australia and teaching in a school in Tanzania, close to the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro. 

When I am not at work, I have two children who go to a Gaelscoil, so we speak a lot of Gaeilge sa bhaile. My daughter will be starting secondary school in September and I am very hopeful at the prospect that she may one day have the chance to do the new Drama, Film and Theatre Studies curriculum. I am passionate about the Arts and like to dabble in writing and radio documentary-making when time allows. I also took up ITF Taekwondo in the last 18 months and it is a wonderful sport that allows me to do something completely different and hopefully stave off the aches and pains of old age...