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New maths curriculum not to begin in all primary schools until 2022

The teaching of a new maths curriculum will not begin in all primary schools until 2022, under a one-year delay announced by Education Minister Joe McHugh.

He said the phased implementation of the new programme is being pushed back in recognition of issues raised by schools and teachers about the current scale of curricular change.

Consultations on the revised maths curriculum were to begin next autumn with teacher training rolling out from the 2020/21 school year and all schools beginning to teach it from September 2021.

But Mr McHugh said he has taken account of concerns raised by several groups involved in the design and delivery of primary education about broader curriculum developments.

File photo.

They have asked for more time for teachers to be allowed adjust to new methods associated with a primary language curriculum being introduced on a phased basis.

While pupils from junior infants to second class are being taught a new language curriculum since 2015, a revised course for older pupils has been submitted by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment for the minister's approval.

It covers English and Irish, and its publication next year will lead to a full primary language curriculum for all pupils from infants to sixth class.

Mr McHugh said the decision to re-schedule implementation of a new maths curriculum takes account of the concerns raised by the NCCA, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, groups representing school boards and principals, and others.

“It also allows for further supports to be developed for teachers along with a more sustained, transformative model of professional development,” he said.

It is also intended to allow schools to engage more thoroughly with consultations due to begin next autumn on the redevelopment of the broader primary curriculum.

That work will go beyond preliminary consultations by NCCA on aspects relating to how time is allocated to different subjects.

Schools and education partners will be asked to consider issues such as what is taught in schools reflects a changing society, and taking account of changes in education before, and after, primary school.

The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) welcomed the announcement and its recent meetings with the minister show he fully appreciates what it described as a “plague of initiative overload” facing schools.

It said this is swamping principals, teachers and school boards, and is impeding rather than driving education reforms.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education is writing to second-level teacher unions to highlight that planning for the education of young people with special needs is essential.

It follows criticism of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland by autism charity AsIAm for advising members not to implement individual education plans (IEPs) or equivalent paperwork, which are not a statutory requirement.

The ASTI advice is similar to existing Teachers’ Union of Ireland policy about any such obligations being placed on members around this area without providing adequate time or training.

Mr McHugh said, this month, inspectors have told him most schools now use some form of education planning for pupils.