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Stages of the Primary Curriculum

The primary phase comprises:

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 should, 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 pupils. The Areas are:


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 should 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 a starting point for learning activities or for pursuing a topic in more depth.

• 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. The Northern Ireland Curriculum Primary Introduction.

Introduction 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 on-going and integral part of the learning and teaching process.

Plan, for example:

• Clarifying tasks.

• Generating ideas.

• Designing ways of approaching tasks or problems.

• Finding and analysing relevant information.

• Creating, trialling or testing out possible solutions.

• Making decisions.

• Drawing conclusions.

• Presenting ideas, opinions or outcomes.

• Evaluating progress throughout and make improvements when necessary.

• Reflecting on their thinking and the learning.

• Transferring thinking and learning to other contexts.