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Minister Norma Foley at the launch of the Primary Curriculum Framework last year Leah Farrell via

Public invited to have their say on new primary school curriculum for a modern Ireland

A key focus of the new curriculum is teaching about difference, and understanding other cultures as Irish schools become more diverse.

THE CONSULTATION PROCESS has begun on the first major revamp of the primary school curriculum in 25 years.

The new curriculum, which will be in schools by 2025 at the earliest, aims to respond to a modern Ireland, informed by the latest research on how children learn.

There will also be an increased emphasis on some existing parts of the curriculum, such as physical education, SPHE and sustainability.

It will cover five areas: Arts Education; Modern Foreign Languages; Social and Environmental Education; Science, Technology and Engineering; and Wellbeing.

The curriculum has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), which advises the Department of Education on these matters.

On foreign languages, it is understood that multiple will be taught on a very basic level, and will likely align with the competencies of the teacher and the ethnicities in the classroom.

A key focus of the new curriculum is teaching about difference and understanding other cultures, as Irish schools have become more diverse.


Wellbeing will include an update to the relationships and sexual education programme to operate as a precursor to the new Junior Cycle curriculum, which garnered controversy when it was first implemented last September. 

It is understood that in previous consultations primary students expressed that some elements of RSE, such as puberty, were taught too late in their education. The new primary curriculum aims to bridge that gap.

“The draft specification also recognises that many children are now older starting school and that, in some cases, children are experiencing puberty earlier,” a document by the NCCA says.

“The curriculum supports teachers to make professional judgements and be responsive to the needs of the children in their class.”

Concepts such as engineering and design thinking are to be introduced, with less emphasis put on textbook learning and less separation of subjects.

Active citizenship, communication skills and creativity are among the other key competencies that will be prioritised.

Slimming down

A major challenge with the current curriculum, which has been in place since 1999, was that teachers don’t always have enough time to cover such a large volume of material.

There has been a significant reduction in the number of curriculum guides, from 23 books to six documents (approximately 45 pages in each) that aim to “minimise duplication and unnecessary repetition”.

Schools will still teach their Patron’s Programme, which is a school-chosen subject that focuses on children’s holistic development, particularly through a religious lens.

The consultation phase for the proposed curriculum is to be completed by June, at which point the NCCA will write a report of the findings for the Minister for Education.

The advisory panel, which has been contributing to the process since 2020, comprises four international experts in education: Prof Thomas Walsh of Maynooth University, Prof Louise Hayward of the University of Glasgow, Prof James Spillane of Northwestern University (Chicago), and Prof Dominik Weiss of Imperial College London.

Researchers from Maynooth University will now talk to primary school children and some first year secondary school children about their thoughts on the existing curriculum and the proposed changes.

The public will also have the opportunity to submit their views online and in school forums.

It is understood that the finalised curriculum will be available from September 2025, but more than likely will not be immediately implemented, as teachers will have to complete new training to get up to speed.

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