Under the Education Act, 1998, the Minister for Education and Science may set down the curriculum for recognised schools. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment was established as a statutory body in July 2001 and its function is to advise the Minister of Education and Science in matters relating to the curriculum for early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools, and the assessment procedures employed in schools and examinations on subjects that are part of the curriculum. This includes the subjects to be offered, the syllabus for each subject and the guidance and counselling provision to be offered.
There are guidelines on the time to be allocated to each of the curriculum areas.
The aims of the curriculum are to ensure that all children are provided with learning opportunities that recognise and celebrate their uniqueness, develop their full potential and prepare them to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The focus is on the child as learner, and the use of a variety of teaching methodologies is an essential feature of the curriculum.
The curriculum aims to foster the development of key skills in communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, inquiry, investigation and analysis, and social and personal awareness and interaction. In particular, it places key emphasis on the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills.
Each curriculum statement contains the rationale, aims, objectives, structured content and assessment approaches for each of the 4 class levels: infants; first and second; third and fourth and fifth and sixth. The teacher guidelines are designed to provide resource material to support teaching and learning.
Every teacher has received a copy of the full set of documents. The full set or individual documents can be purchased from the Government Publications Sales Office or downloaded from the NCCA’s website.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has prepared a guide for parents that provides an outline of the broad content and emphases in the curriculum, as well as advice on how parents can support teaching and learning at home and in school.