Stages of the Primary Curriculum
- The Foundation Stage: Years 1 and 2
- Key Stage 1: Years 3 and 4
- Key Stage 2: Years 5, 6 and 7
Structure of the Primary Curriculum
The curriculum for the three stages is set out in six Areas of Learning.
Although the Areas of Learning are set out separately teachers will, where appropriate, integrate learning across the six areas to make relevant connections for children. Teachers have considerable flexibility to select from within the learning areas those aspects they consider appropriate to the ability and interests of their children.
The Areas are:
Language and Literacy (including Talking and Listening, Reading and Writing; schools are also encouraged to teach additional languages – at Rowandale we teach Spanish, French and Irish)
Mathematics and Numeracy (focusing on the development of mathematical concepts and numeracy across the curriculum)
The Arts (including Art and Design, Drama and Music)
The World Around Us (focusing on the development of knowledge, skills and understanding in Geography, History and Science and Technology)
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (focusing on emotional development, social skills, learning to learn, health, relationships and sexuality education and mutual understanding in the local and global community)
Physical Education (focusing on the development of knowledge, skills and understanding through play and a range of physical activities).
Equality of Opportunity and Access for All
At Rowandale we have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all our children and will aim to give every child the opportunity to experience success in learning and to achieve as high a standard as possible.
The Statutory Curriculum is the starting point for planning the school curriculum that meets the needs of individual children. The Northern Ireland Curriculum sets out the minimum requirement that will be taught at each key stage. The Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities Framework allows teachers to teach the knowledge, skills and understanding in ways that suit individual children’s ability. Teachers are aware that children have different experiences, interests and strengths, which will influence the way in which they learn. In planning curriculum and assessment activities, teachers are aware of the requirements of the equal opportunities legislation and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Order (SENDO) and will have high expectations for all children, including children with special educational needs, children with disabilities, children from all social and cultural backgrounds, children of different ethnic groups including travellers and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.
Approaches to learning and teaching will provide suitably challenging opportunities for all children to take part in lessons fully and effectively and will allow all children to achieve. For children with special educational needs teaching will take account of the type and extent of the difficulty experienced by the child. For children whose attainments fall significantly below the levels expected at a particular key stage, degrees of differentiation of tasks and materials appropriate to the age and requirements of the child will be used. For children whose attainments significantly exceed the expected levels of attainment during a particular key stage, teachers will need to plan suitably challenging work by extending the breadth and depth of study across the areas of learning.
In planning to meet the needs of all children, teachers will:
- use teaching approaches appropriate to different learning styles;
- use a range of organisational approaches, such as setting, grouping or individual work, to ensure that individual needs are properly addressed;
- vary content and presentation so that it matches the learning needs of particular children;
- use a range of activities and contexts for work and allow a variety of interpretations and outcomes;
- allocate sufficient time for children to complete tasks;
- use accessible texts and materials that suit children’s age and level of learning;
- plan work which builds on interests and cultural diversity;
- plan the pace of work so that all children will have the opportunity to learn effectively and achieve success;
- plan challenging work for those whose ability and understanding are in advance of their peer group;
- provide support by using ICT, video or audio materials, dictionaries and other suitable aids;
- enable the fullest possible participation of children with disabilities, including those with medical needs, to access physical activities and extra-curricular activities with appropriate support, aids or adaptations. Many children with disabilities can learn alongside their peers with little need for additional resources beyond the aids or equipment they use as part of their daily lives.
Whole curriculum skills and capabilities
At the heart of the curriculum lies an explicit emphasis on the development of skills and capabilities for lifelong learning and for operating effectively in society. Through opportunities to engage in active learning contexts across all areas of the curriculum, children will progressively develop:
• Using Mathematics
• Using Information and Communications Technology
Thinking skills and personal capabilities:
• Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
• Self Management
• Working with Others
• Managing Information
• Being Creative
Thinking skills and personal capabilities
Personal skills and capabilities underpin success in all aspects of life and the Northern Ireland Curriculum aims to foster these explicitly so that children are helped to develop self management skills and the ability to interact effectively with others. Thinking skills are tools that help children to go beyond the acquisition of knowledge to search for meaning, apply ideas, analyse patterns and relationships, create and design something new and monitor and evaluate their progress. Teachers will help children to develop thinking skills and personal capabilities by focusing on the following areas.
The Statutory Requirements for Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities are set out below in bold. Suggestions are in plain text. Children will be given worthwhile experiences across the curriculum which will allow them to develop skills in:
Thinking, problem-solving and decision-making, such as:
- sequencing, ordering, classifying, making comparisons;
- making predictions, examining evidence, distinguishing fact from opinion;
- making links between cause and effect;
- justifying methods, opinions and conclusions;
- generating possible solutions, trying out alternative approaches, evaluating outcomes;
- examining options, weighing up pros and cons;
- using different types of questions;
- making connections between learning in different contexts.
Self – management, such as:
- being aware of personal strengths, limitations and interests;
- setting personal targets and reviewing them;
- managing behaviour in a range of situations;
- organising and planning how to go about a task;
- focusing, sustaining attention and persisting with tasks;
- reviewing learning and some aspect that might be improved;
- learning ways to manage own time;
- seeking advice when necessary;
- comparing own approach with others and in different contexts
Working with others, such as:
- listening actively and sharing opinions;
- developing routines of turn taking, sharing and co-operating;
- giving and responding to feedback;
- understanding how actions and words effect others;
- adapting behaviour and language to suit different people and situations;
- taking personal responsibility for working with others and evaluating own contribution to the group;
- being fair;
- respecting the views and opinions of others, reaching agreements using negotiation and compromise;
- suggesting ways of improving their approach to working collaboratively.
Managing information, such as:
- asking focused questions;
- planning and setting goals, breaking a task into sub-tasks;
- using own and others’ ideas to locate sources of information;
- selecting, classifying, comparing and evaluating information;
- selecting most appropriate method for a task;
- using a range of methods for collating, recording and representing information;
- communicating with a sense of audience and purpose.
Being creative, such as:
- seeking out questions to explore and problems to solve;
- experimenting with ideas and questions;
- making new connections between ideas/information;
- learning from and valuing other people’s ideas;
- making ideas real by experimenting with different designs, actions, outcomes;
- challenging the routine method;
- valuing the unexpected or surprising;
- seeing opportunities in mistakes and failures;
- taking risks for learning.
Approaches to learning and teaching
Children learn best when learning is interactive, practical and enjoyable.
Teachers will make use of a wide range of teaching methods, balancing whole class, group and individual activities, to engage children in effective learning.
In the Foundation Stage children will experience much of their learning through well planned and challenging play. Self-initiated play helps children to understand and learn about themselves and their surroundings. Motivation can be increased when children have opportunities to make choices and decisions about their learning, particularly when their own ideas and interests are used, either as starting points for learning activities or for pursuing a topic in more depth.
It is important that our children:
- have secure relationships with peers and adults in a positively affirming environment which supports their emotional development and which is sensitive to their growing self-esteem and self-confidence;
- have opportunities to be actively involved in practical, challenging play- based learning in a stimulating environment, which takes account of their developmental stage/needs (including those with learning difficulties and the most able children) and their own interests/experiences;
- have opportunities to initiate play which capitalises on intrinsic motivation and natural curiosity;
- have choice and exercise autonomy and independence in their learning, and where they are supported in taking risks in their efforts to succeed;
- are given equality of opportunity to learn in a variety of ways and in different social groupings;
- are actively involved in planning, carrying out and reflecting on their work;
- are supported by trained, enthusiastic and committed professionals who work in partnership with parents and carers and where appropriate, professionals in other fields, to ensure that all achieve their full potential.
Intrinsic to this is recognition of the importance of process based learning, as opposed to product based, outcome driven learning, with observation based assessment, carried out in a unobtrusive way, as an ongoing and integral part of the learning and teaching process.
In order to develop children’s skills and capabilities across the whole curriculum, teachers will need to provide frequent opportunities for children to think and do for themselves. To help foster good thinking habits and develop more independent learners, teachers may find it helpful to utilise a simple ‘Plan, Do, Review’ process, which integrates and fosters children’s skills and capabilities.
Plan, for example:
- Clarifying tasks;
- Generating ideas;
- Designing ways of approaching tasks or problems.
Do (carry out the plan and communicate findings), for example:
- Finding and analysing relevant information;
- Creating, trialling or testing out possible solutions;
- Making decisions;
- Drawing conclusions;
- Presenting ideas, opinions or outcomes.
Review (both the process and outcomes of their work and their learning), for example:
- evaluating progress throughout and make improvements when necessary;
- reflecting on their thinking and the learning;
- transferring thinking and learning to other contexts.
- teaching will build from where the children are;
- children’s needs and interests will lead the learning;
- appropriate support will be given to those children who require it;
- children will be motivated and their learning challenged;
- children will have high expectations of themselves;
- information will be shared with parents.
Click here for more information on the curriculum areas:
- Language & Literacy
- Mathematics & Numeracy
- The Arts
- The World Around Us
- Personal Development & Mutual Understanding
- Physical Development & Movement
- Religious Education