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The Primary School Curriculum was developed by the NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) and launched in 1999.

The curriculum incorporates the child centred principles of its predecessor, Curaclam na Bunscoile (1971). It identifies three primary aims of primary education:

  • to enable the child to live a full life as a child and to realise his or her potential as a unique individual
  • to enable the child to develop as a social being through living and co-operating with others and so contribute to the good of society
  • to prepare the child for further education and lifelong learning.

The curriculum is firmly based on a set of beliefs and values about children and learning.These include :

  • the focus on the process of learning, and on the many ways in which children learn
  • the importance of active, independent learning and in particular active exploration of the local environment. Opportunities for using concrete materials and hands-on approaches are provided in all curriculum areas.
  • the vital role of language in children's learning. Much learning takes place through the interaction of language and experience. Language helps the child to clarify and interpret experience, to acquire new concepts, and to add depth to concepts already grasped.
  • the importance of the social and emotional dimension in learning and the need to build the child's self confidence and self-esteem and provide opportunities to develop his/her interpersonal and intrapersonal skills
  • the importance of collaborative learning and the need for a variety of classroom management strategies
  • the emphasis on creative problem-solving, critical thinking and the importance of helping children to investigate, to question, to observe and to make informed judgments. The development of these higher-order thinking skills is incorporated in every curriculum area.
  • skills of inquiry and investigation are a particular feature of the science curriculum which is given a renewed emphasis
  • the emphasis on school and classroom planning. There is a wide range of support materials in the documentation that gives guidance on planning.
  • the recognition of the importance of assessment, the use of a varied range of assessment methods and tools and an emphasis on assessment as part of a cycle which includes planning, teaching, learning and assessing.

A characteristic feature of the development of the curriculum was the close involvement and co-operation of the partners in education. This partnership approach was also advocated in planning for its implementation in the school.

The curriculum is learner-centred. It emphasises the importance of literacy, numeracy, and language, while at the same time responding to changing needs in science and technology, social personal and health education, and citizenship.

The curriculum is presented in six subject areas comprising 11 subjects. The development and implementation of the curriculum in religious education in primary schools remains the responsibility of the relevant patron bodies

NCCA Primary Curriculum on Line

What children learn in 3rd and 4th Class Here »

What children learn in 5th and 6th Class Here »

A powerpoint presentation Transition Moving Up ESRI Research on transfer from Primary to Second level education in Ireland.

Junior Cycle

The new junior cycle will allow schools to develop a high quality programme that meets the needs of their students and fits the context, environment and community of the school.

The Framework for Junior Cycle aims to create the conditions where schools, in planning and organising their junior cycles, can focus on the learning taking place in classrooms. The Framework is designed to support the kinds of learning experiences that help students connect to and engage positively with learning. Through its breadth and flexibility it encourages innovation and supports creative learning in the classroom.

In moving away from a focus on a terminal centrally provided examination, it re-positions assessment where research tells us it matters most – in classrooms.  It also facilitates schools in ensuring that literacy, numeracy and key skills are embedded in the learning taking place.

Everything you want to know about the new Junior Cycle is available on the Junior Cycle Site.


  • TheNCCA curriculum planning tool helps teachers/parents/Home work club staff to find and select content objectives from the Primary School Curriculum. Search for objectives by class, subject, strand or keyword and incorporate them into a short-term plan or a yearly overview at the click of a button.
  • Educational Research Centre a link to their publications page which has an extensive range of reports commissioned by the Department of Education and Science/Skills including Comparative research on PISA scores, Educational Disadvantage in rural areas and reviews of various programmes promoted by the Department.
  • What are they doing in schools in the UK the National Strategies site part of Dept Ed Sites hosts practical materials that are designed to help teachers and schools focus on the core business of improving teaching and learning. They are intended to offer support to both new and experienced teachers, as well as subject leaders and senior leaders more »
  • Irish Times Series "Reading and My Child" here


  • Managing Challenging Behaviour 8 PRINCIPLES FOR PROMOTING POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR IN THE CLASSROOM A presentation to SDPI Summer School by the National Behaviour Support Service
  • Lists for ;Planning, Consulting, Recruiting, Training, Starting Off, Operating, Wrapping up, Reviewing, Promoting OST more »