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09th Mar 2023

Here’s the new primary school curriculum explained

Clodagh McKeon

A “groundbreaking day for education”

Education Minister Norma Foley has announced new framework for all primary and special schools in the country.

These are the most significant changes to be made to the primary school curriculum in 25 years.

This morning she revealed the new plans that she says “places the child at the centre of the learning process.”

The changes will be introduced to schools nationwide on a phased basis.

Speaking today, she said that while teaching hours for religion are being cut, there’ll be more flexitime given to schools and they’ll know where to designate that spare time.

“There is a reduction for the hours in religion, but there is also more autonomy and more agency given to the schools around flexitime.”

So, schools can put that extra time into any area whether it be maths, Irish or music classes.

Norma Foley also added that a foreign language will be taught in all primary schools by 2025 following these new plans.

She said theres a lot of work that needs to go into having another language available in each school but that it will be achieved by September 2025 and necessary up-skilling will be provided to staff.

The new curriculum states that there’ll be a greater focus on the well-being of children as well as science and technology subjects.

Despite calls from Michael D Higgins to end homework, it will still be given to children, unfortunately.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar agrees with learning at home and said: “If you are doing sums, or learning a foreign language, or you are trying to learn the Irish language, it does make sense that you do a bit of practice at home.”

The framework is designed to shape the work of all primary and special schools over the coming years.

Norma Foley said there was a need for the curriculum framework to be “of the 21st century” and most people agree.

She was asked about the debate around gender identity being taught in schools. She said leadership on this would come from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCAA) after broad consultation and engagement.

“All views are welcome across the partners in education and wider society,” she answered.

She was also asked about further comments from President Michael D surrounding the teaching of sexuality in schools.

Foley said the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) part of the framework will be developed by the NCAA but that “work has not yet commenced.”

She concluded that the overall framework has been “positively received” by education groups.

She added that the announcement of the new “overarching vision” for primary schools was a “groundbreaking day for education”.

There has also been some positive comments from the opposition.

Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán O’Ríordáin said that it will take time for the new syllabus to make its way into classrooms but welcomes it.

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