Children can learn foreign languages ​​from the third class


School children could start learning foreign languages ​​from the third grade under sweeping changes proposed for the primary curriculum.

Shaking up the way teaching and learning takes place in primary schools – the most dramatic in 20 years – could also lead to a reduction in the time allocated to training in religious faith and other basic subjects. .

Instead, schools would have a lot more ‘flexible time’ to decide which areas of learning they want to prioritize.

The proposals are contained in a new draft primary curriculum framework to be released Tuesday by the state’s advisory body, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

This draft framework will guide the development of a new curriculum that will shape the way children learn for decades to come.

The NCCA is holding a consultation on the draft plan through October 2020, and the new curriculum is expected to be in place for children born in 2019 and 2020.

Some of the proposals contained in the draft framework would see major changes such as:

* The replacement of subjects in the first four years of primary school by much broader “fields of study”. These areas include languages; mathematics, science and technology; welfare; artistic education; social and environmental education; and religious/ethical education. Indeed, they would include an increased emphasis on areas such as PE (part of well-being), digital learning and introduction of foreign languages, education on world religion and ethics, and a broader artistic education.

* More “flexible time” to allow schools to focus more on areas of learning that would be decided by each school. This would be facilitated by a general reduction in the time allocated to other areas of the program, with the exception of well-being. denominational schools – from 2h30 per week to two hours.

* The introduction of seven key skills which aim to capture the essential knowledge, skills, concepts, dispositions, attitudes and values ​​that enable children to adapt and cope with a range of situations, challenges and contexts.

These skills are closely linked to Aistear – the pre-school program – and to the Junior Cycle of secondary school.


The NCCA says the changes build on the successes and strengths of the 1999 elementary school curriculum, while responding to changing challenges, needs and priorities.

He says he aims to give schools greater agency and flexibility in their role as “curriculum creators.”

According to officials, it would also foster stronger connections between children’s experiences in primary school and their earlier experiences in preschool, as well as with their later experiences in post-primary school.

In addition, it aims to update children’s learning and development priorities and support a variety of instructional approaches and strategies, with assessment at the heart of teaching and learning.

The framework will be available online ( and consultation will continue until mid-autumn term in October 2020.

The proposed changes are based on an extensive body of curriculum research and consultation.

They also build on work that took place in a school forum, which includes 37 primary schools, three preschools and three post-primary schools, as well as ongoing deliberations with education partners and stakeholders. wider stakeholders.

Although detailed planning of resources, structures and processes has not yet taken place, the NCCA envisions the completion of the development of all program area specifications by summer 2024, after which they will be presented to the Minister of Education for approval.


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