Preparation for Teaching and Learning – Guidance for All Primary and Special Schools

“What are the new guidelines on planning for primary school teachers?” 

Above is a question that I am sometimes asked, but not as much as you would imagine. This is because it went under the radar for many during Covid-19 and school closures, but the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) released new guidelines in relation to this in April 2021.

The following is a brief summary of that main things that you need to know, but the full document, as well as FAQs and webinars can be found on the NCCA website here.


The main points:

  • There is a move away from the use of the term “planning for teaching” and a move towards calling it “preparation for teaching and learning
  • Preparation for T&L includes ALL of the activities undertaken by the teacher in their preparation for teaching, not just their written/ recorded planning.
  • There is an acknowledgement that preparation for teaching and learning occurs before, during and after teaching and that it includes invisible, visible, and recorded The below diagram explains what is meant by this:

  • The 3 elements of preparation (invisible, visible and recorded) are equally valued. Therefore, the inspectorate will not only look for your written planning documents, but will also take into account your work on the other areas.
  • There are also 3 “Pillars for Preparation for Teaching and Learning” which will inform your preparation:

  • There is an emphasis on “teacher agency” i.e. the capacity of the teacher to make professional decisions based on a sound knowledge of what is contained in the above pillars.
  • When speaking about your preparation for teaching and learning, you can describe to all of your work within the above pillars.
  • Furthermore, there are 4 sources of evidence which demonstrate a teacher’s preparation for teaching and learning. The inspectorate will consider these 4 ways in which preparation can be demonstrated during inspections:

How can help? provides blank templates for, as well as competed examples of, written preparation, both of which have been designed to save teachers time and stress.

Our tried and tested templates for written preparation mean you don’t have to spend hours playing around with tables and formatting in Microsoft Word coming up with your own. They are in editable format so you have the freedom to tweak the layout to better suit your needs if you wish, however a basic format that is clear and easy to use is there for you. You can click here to view our templates which use the recommended sections from the new Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning. 

In addition, our completed sample written preparation documents provide a great starting point as you can quickly and easily tailor them to the specific needs and context of your class. For instance, our long term recorded preparation documents for mainstream class teachers contain all curriculum learning objectives/ outcomes for each subject so you can don’t have to spend hours retyping them. You can simply amend what is already there to suit your own school’s context, by specifying which learning objectives/ outcomes you will focus primarily on for the school year. The same applies to the other sections in the plans such as learning experiences, assessment methods, and integration opportunities: you choose which ones fit your class the best, and simply delete, amend, or add to them, as you see fit! This will save you hours at the computer so you can spend more time on the multitude of other important aspects of preparation for teaching and learning. Editing pre-populated content to suit takes a tiny fraction of the time it takes to type everything from scratch!

A Final Note:

The guidance is to be welcomed, as it recognises ALL of the work that teachers do in preparing for their teaching, not just their written preparation. Written preparation is still required, but the guidance allows for more flexibility in terms of how teachers can complete it. 

I hope this has been of assistance as you begin to navigate the new guidance. Let me know any thoughts or questions in the comments section below!

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