The Primary Mathematics Curriculum (PMC) Explained

The NCCA began developing a new mathematics curriculum for primary schools in 2016. The curriculum was initially meant to be implemented fully in schools by September 2021, but it has been delayed a number of times and there is now no set date as to when it will be rolled out. The most recent draft of the new maths curriculum was published in March 2022 for consultation purposes (the consultation phase closed in June 2022).

Initially the PMC was going to be implemented in 2 parts, with Infants – 2nd first, then 3rd-6th class at a later date. This idea has been shelved due to how disastrous this approach was when the PLC was introduced!

The PMC has a similar layout to the PLC, with a rationale section, aims, strands, elements and learning outcomes. It also has a section called “The Primary Mathematics Curriculum in Practice” which outlines key pedagogical practices to develop mathematical proficiency. In a similar way to the PLC, the PMC will have an online Primary Mathematics Toolkit. As with the PLC, the PMC will have “progression continua”, but they will be relegated to the online toolkit as they eventually were for the PLC.

Concern was expressed by teachers in an INTO consultation on the draft that the learning outcomes were vague and lacking in detail. If you look at the draft document, it is hard not to agree as the learning outcomes for all stages and strands amount to only 6 pages! By contrast in the 1999 curriculum, the learning objectives for 5th & 6th class alone come to 23 pages. The INTO consultation also found that there is uncertainty about what content should be covered at each class level as the broad learning outcomes are presented for 2 year “Stages” rather than for class levels.

Mathematics education will be grouped with science, technology and engineering when the rest of the redeveloped curriculum is published. Although in the suggested time allocations in the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework, a discrete minimum weekly time is specified for mathematics  separately to that for science and technology education. The exact weekly time requirements have yet to be finalised.

One positive thing to note is that the PMC has an increased emphasis on play-based approaches. But on the downside, there is a lot of jargon in it, such as the 5 aspects of mathematical fluency that children should develop which it goes into a lot of detail explaining, as well as the 5 key pedagogical practices for the classroom which use language that many teachers will not be familiar with.


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