The Primary Language Curriculum, which is now available for all stages from junior infants to sixth class, is for teachers of children of all abilities in all school contexts. It seeks to support children in the development of their competence in the main language skills, including their competence in speaking and comprehension skills, at a level appropriate to their learning needs as they progress along their language learning journey. The Primary Language Curriculum promotes an integrated approach to language skills development and the transferability of those skills across languages.
Curricular provision for Irish at post-primary level is also underpinned by an integrated approach to the development of students’ language skills in Irish. The learning outcomes set out in the specifications for Irish in Junior Cycle are broad allowing teachers scope and flexibility to differentiate learning to meet the needs of the students across the language skills. A dual approach is adopted to assessment in Junior Cycle - Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) and a Final Assessment. The Final Assessment component is marked by the State Examinations Commission. Students complete two CBAs and both take account of student’ oral language skills. This places assessment in the learning context and supports its integration into every day teaching and learning practices which will in turn develop and enhance students’ self-awareness and confidence as language users. CBA 1 requires that one piece of text included in the portfolio will be a sound/ video piece and, CBA 2 is based entirely on students’ oral language competence, including spoken interaction. In addition, the Assessment Task, which will be assessed by the State Examinations Commission, will be related to the learning outcomes on which CBA 2 will be based.
In senior cycle, Irish is offered in the established Leaving Certificate and also in the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). The syllabuses in both cases support a differentiated approach to address students’ learning needs and assessment by the State Examinations Commission includes the assessment of students’ oral and comprehension skills.
The Primary Language Curriculum and the specifications for Irish in Junior Cycle are new and need time to embed in schools. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has already commenced the development of new specifications for Leaving Certificate (established) Irish.
I have no plans to develop a discrete course for oral Irish and Irish comprehension for examination through State examinations