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Home » Education » Charting the curriculum’s evolution for Ireland’s education

Arlene Forster

Chief Executive, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

Research-informed, inclusive and future focused curriculum drives early childhood early childhood, primary and post-primary education.

Over 1 million young people in early childhood settings, primary, special and post-primary schools rely on a curriculum designed to develop the knowledge, skills, values and dispositions necessary to become problem-solvers, creators, thinkers, carers, decision-makers, innovators, negotiators and leaders. With high expectations for the curriculum, how is this generated?

Council guiding education policy

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) advises the Minister for Education on curriculum and assessment for early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools. The Council is a representative body with nominees from teacher unions, school management, parents, students, business interests and wider educational groups.

It is centrally involved in some of the biggest and most important changes in this millennium to date. Today, the Council is leading a major curriculum redevelopment for primary, special and post-primary schools and updating ‘Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.’

Research-informed curriculum enhancement

NCCA’s work is based on research; close work with schools and early childhood settings; extensive public consultation; and iterative detailed discussions and debates with a wide range of stakeholders.

Examples of the curriculum improvements emerging from this include:

  • Building stronger connections in what and how young people learn across the stages of education;
  • Clarifying priorities for learning and introducing new subjects and areas such as modern foreign languages and technology in the primary curriculum; drama, film and theatre studies; and climate action and sustainable development for leaving certificate;
  • Developing key competencies and the learning approaches that nurture these;
  • Supporting all learners, including through the introduction of Level 1 and Level 2 learning programmes in senior cycle;
  • Providing greater choice and flexibility for teachers and children/students.  

Engaging curriculum development partnership

The work plan and partnership approach underpinning NCCA’s work make curriculum development both engaging and challenging. Current redevelopment will ensure the curriculum remains relevant to young people by supporting high standards in teaching, learning and assessment.

This supports the dedicated teaching profession to provide inspiring educational experiences, allowing all young people to flourish in the ‘here and now’ and laying foundations for their future. 

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