The Irish Primary Curriculum is a beast with way too many subjects and far too little time to cover them all adequately. There are constant demands mainly made by outside agencies to slot in more and more into the finite space of time.
A good example of this is SPHE, which gets 30 minutes per week. What started off as a small subject now includes all sorts of programmes including RSE, Stay Safe, Walk Tall, Web Safety, and well-being programmes. Add in the actual curriculum and it’s easy to see how impossible it is to fit all this stuff in.
My suggestion is that we look at the current structure and reduce it down to different areas. These are my possible headings:
- Health and Well Being
If I could remove religion altogether I would, but given that for the purposes of this article, I’d probably have to include Ethics/Religion as a final area.
It doesn’t take a genius to slot in our current subjects into these areas but the key thing is that having less subjects will give more freedom to the teacher. This new curriculum would give particular targets (very few!) that would correspond to a level (no more than 4) which would fulfil the curriculum. It would be up to individual teachers to decide how long it would take to achieve these targets.
The fewer the targets, the easier it will be to assess them.
For example in the Arts, one could have a target for Paint. The teacher could simply score this from 1 to 4 depending on some criteria, which would be part of a school plan.
While some might feel this would “water down” the curriculum, I would argue it gives much more autonomy to schools to concentrate on areas that need focus in their school. It also gives schools a more simple assessment system, which can be understood by everyone.