Foundation Stage Curriculum
Primary school Year 1 and Year 2 make up the Foundation Stage, so the children are 4–6 years old. The Foundation Stage builds on the learning experiences that children bring to school from home and pre-school settings.
Foundation Stage teachers have some flexibility in terms of what they teach, which means they can:
- follow the interests of the children;
- make links to their previous learning; and
- help the children appreciate that the skills they have learned in one area can be applied elsewhere.
Language and Literacy
Literacy focuses on developing each child’s ability to understand and use language, both spoken and written, as an integral part of learning in all areas. The development of language and literacy is crucial to living and learning. We use language to communicate, to share and express feelings, to give and obtain information and to understand ideas and develop thoughts.
We should consider language and literacy holistically, taking account of the connections between Talking and Listening and Reading and Writing, which extend across all areas of the curriculum.
Mathematics and Numeracy
Pupils acquire early mathematical concepts through activities that involve sorting, matching, comparing, classifying, and making patterns and sequences in different contexts. These activities should involve children in playing, exploring and investigating, doing and observing, talking and listening, and asking and answering questions.
As developing mathematical language is fundamentally important, talking about work has a high priority in the early years. By engaging in a wide variety of activities, children begin to understand mathematical language and then use this language to talk about their work. Children should have opportunities to develop their skills in mental mathematics during counting activities, by playing games and in their daily classroom routines
Children's creative, expressive and physical development is closely linked to all aspects of their learning. Children should have opportunities to explore and share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of art and design, music, movement, dance, dramatic and role-play activities. Taking part in a range of well-planned activities helps to develop children’s fine and gross motor skills. This helps them to gain confidence in what they can do and build their self-esteem. These activities encourage children’s individuality, imagination and creativity.
The World Around US
Children are interested in and curious about the world around them. Before starting school, they will have had opportunities to explore the world in the home, in pre-school settings and their local area. We should build on these pre-school experiences to foster the children's natural curiosity.
Children should have opportunities to use their senses to develop their powers of observation, to be able to:
- sort and classify;
- plan; and
- carry out and review their work.
It is important to recognise and build on children’s social and emotional development during the early years, before they start school. We should continue to encourage them to form relationships with adults and other children and to develop their self-esteem and confidence.
Physical Development and Movement
Children start primary school having had a range of movement experiences at home, in pre-school settings and in their local community. They will have developed skills of control, co-ordination and manipulation and will have some awareness of space. Teachers should encourage their pupils to develop these fundamental movement skills as they are crucial to children’s long term health and well-being and support physical development.
Physical Development and Movement is about experiencing and developing a range of fundamental movement skills that improve co-ordination, locomotion, control, balance and manipulation. Physical development also helps children gain confidence and self-esteem, enabling them to feel the benefits of being healthy and active.
The Department of Education and the four largest Christian Churches in Northern Ireland define the curriculum for Religious Education in the Core Syllabus. Religious Education gives young people opportunities to develop their personal understanding and enhance their spiritual and ethical awareness.
Key Stage 1 & 2 Curriculum
At Key Stage 1 (ages 6–8) and Key Stage 2 (ages 8–11) the curriculum is broad and balanced. Every child has the opportunity to build on the skills they have acquired and developed in Foundation Stage, so they can experience success in learning and achieve as high a standard as possible.
The primary curriculum focuses on child-centred learning, building knowledge outwards:
- starting with the perspective of the individual;
- moving on to the family, the home and the school; and
- progressing to the neighbourhood and the wider world.
Teachers have considerable flexibility to decide how best to interpret and combine the curriculum requirements, to help prepare their pupils for a rapidly changing world.
Language and Literacy
Literacy focuses on developing each child’s ability to understand and use language as an integral part of learning in all areas. This enables them to interact effectively with the world around them, to express themselves creatively and to communicate confidently (through Talking and Listening, and Reading and Writing) using a variety of skills and media. Language and Literacy are fundamental prerequisites for thinking, learning and interacting in personal, social and work contexts throughout life. Literacy is therefore key to learning, enjoyment and personal growth.
Mathematics and Numeracy
Numeracy is the development and application of mathematics across the curriculum and in real-life situations. Numeracy skills help pupils to make informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives.
Mathematics and Numeracy includes Processes in Mathematics, Number, Measures, Shape and Space and Handling Data. All of these are all interrelated, but Processes in Mathematics applies to all areas.
Throughout primary school, pupils engage in a wide range of purposeful activities that involve them in different modes of mathematical learning. These include playing, exploring and investigating, doing and observing, talking and listening, asking questions, reflecting, drafting, reading and recording.
This Area of Learning comprises the subjects of Art and Design, Drama and Music. It provides rich opportunities for developing creativity, allowing children to express their ideas, feelings and interpretations of the world through pictures, sound, drama and dance.
The World Around Us
Children are naturally curious and often ask profound questions about themselves and The World Around Us. This Area of Learning helps pupils to explore and find age-appropriate answers to some of these big questions from the perspectives of Geography, History, and Science and Technology.
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PD&MU) focuses on encouraging each pupil to become personally, emotionally and socially effective. It also encourages them to lead healthy, safe and fulfilled lives and to become confident, independent and responsible citizens, making informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives.
Physical Education gives children the opportunity to give specific attention to their physical development, health and well-being.
The programme for Physical Education is presented in four activity areas in Key Stage 1 and five in Key Stage 2. Pupils should participate frequently and regularly and experience a range of enjoyable and challenging physical activities that develop and consolidate the full range of fundamental movement skills.
Religious Education gives young people opportunities to learn about, discuss, evaluate and learn from religious beliefs, practices and values. Through Religious Education young people develop a positive sense of themselves and their beliefs, along with a respect for the beliefs and values of others.
The Department of Education and the four largest Christian Churches in Northern Ireland define the curriculum for Religious Education in the Core Syllabus. Religious Education also plays a role in the curriculum by giving young people opportunities to develop their personal understanding and enhance their spiritual and ethical awareness.