This article will discuss the Primary Language Curriculum for Infants – 6th Class which was published in September 2019, and will provide some guidance in how to use and plan with it.
I used the 2015 version of the Primary Language Curriculum (PLC) for my teaching and planning for two years, and I used the 2019 version during the 2019/2020 school year.
It seemed very daunting at first, but once I got my head around the terminology in the new curriculum, it became no more challenging than using 1999 curriculum.
For those who haven’t used the PLC before, below is a very simple explanation of the terminology that I used to help me transition from the 1999 curriculum in my planning and teaching:
- Elements are listed instead of Strand Units.
- Learning Outcomes are listed instead of the Content Objectives of the 1999 curriculum.
- Progression milestones (which is where you think the children are now) and progression steps (which describe what children’s learning looks like) are included as a tool to help in achieving the learning outcomes.
- In your planning you will have sections for strands, content & learning experiences, methodologies, assessment, linkage & integration, and differentiation, as was the case with the 1999 curriculum.
The Infants – Second Class part of 2015 Primary Language Curriculum was scheduled for full implementation in schools since the 2017/2018 school year. In September 2019, the curriculum was re-released along with Circular 0045/2019. Hard copies were sent to schools and is also available here.
The main Differences Between the 2015 and 2019 Versions
Along with seeing the portion of the curriculum for 3rd – 6th class for the first time, many teachers who were teaching in Infants – 2nd class, and who had been implementing the 2015 version of the PLC for the past few years, were surprised to see changes to the Infants – 2nd class part of the curriculum also. Some of the changes that were made in the 2019 version of the curriculum are summarised below:
- The progression continua (the colorful, fold out accordion style part of the curriculum book) was extended for 3rd – 6th class with the addition of additional progression steps i, j, k. The “early a” step was amalgamated into the steps. The progression continua are no longer part of the curriculum itself and were omitted from the 2019 hard copy that was sent to schools, but have become a part of the online support material instead and are available here. This will certainly simplify planning for the PLC and give clarity to teachers that it is the learning outcomes, and not the progression continua that are the core part of the curriculum.
- There were multiple changes to the learning outcome numbers, labels and descriptions. Some additional ones were created, and others were deleted. There are too many changes to list here, and to spot them all you would need to go through the 2015 and 2019 versions line by line and compare them. This is what I did, and all of my sample plans for the PLC have been updated to reflect these changes!
- There is more of a focus on developing skills in “other languages” alongside developing the skills in the target language of the curriculum and the phrase “other languages” was added to a few of the learning outcomes. This represents an acknowledgement of the diversity in Irish classrooms and the importance of the mother tongue of children who speak languages other than English and Irish at home.
- The aims of the PLC remain unchanged, save for the addition of one more aim under the “Children’s language learning and development” section. This new aim will state that the PLC aims to support teachers to “enable children to use language imaginatively and creatively and to appreciate its aesthetic aspects”.
- Finally, the 2015 version of the PLC specified that children would “Write using cursive script” from First Class. In the 2019 version, Cursive script will no longer be obligatory for any class level as children may write “in a chosen script”. Furthermore, “presentation” of texts will now be incorporated into this learning outcome.
All of the fully editable Primary Language Curriculum sample plans on my website have been fully updated to reflect the above changes. I spent many weeks creating these plans which have been purchased and given 5-star reviews by hundreds of teachers so far.
I have short term/ fortnightly planning templates for the PLC for English and Irish as well as sample long term plans for English and Irish for all class levels here.
I also sell these plans as a bundle with plans for all of the other subjects at a discounted price for the class levels.
I hope that the above has been helpful in getting to grips with the changes to PLC. I put a huge amount of research, time and thought into the sample plans on this website, and I am confident that you will be satisfied if you do purchase one.
Best of luck with the return to school!