Supporting Learning

Supporting the Curriculum and Assessment in 2020/21

As schools reopen for all pupils in 2020/21, it's worth noting that the Northern Ireland Curriculum supports the desire to, as much as possible, return to normality. The curriculum offers flexibility and specifies a minimum entitlement for all pupils. Schools have considerable scope to tailor this entitlement and to provide learning opportunities adapted to their own context and their pupils' needs.

Watch the short video below to find out about the curriculum in Northern Ireland.

The flexibility of the Northern Ireland Curriculum enables schools to adapt their provision and respond to the needs of learners in choosing what to teach, when and for how long.

Advice on safety measures is changing constantly. When planning to use curriculum resources in school, you should refer to the Department of Education’s Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance – New School Day.

You’ll also find advice and support for Science and Technology, and Art and Design practical activities from CLEAPSS, which will impact your choice of classroom activities. All schools in Northern Ireland have CLEAPSS membership through the Education Authority.

Exemplars: Ideas for Connected Learning (ICL)

Now that most pupils have returned to school, it’s important to consider their immediate mental health and wellbeing needs. Schools should ensure that pupils have opportunities to explore what they have experienced during COVID-19. This can help them develop resilience and strategies to cope with change. These exemplars directly address COVID-19 issues with ideas about how you can take a connected approach to wellbeing in different Areas of Learning. They include activities that promote creativity and the development of pupils’ independent working and problem-solving skills (Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities).

Many of the suggested activities can take place outdoors, providing a larger space for social distancing and a safer place to learn, where the risk of infection transmission is considered to be lower. The outdoors also offers a wealth of benefits for learning and wellbeing, including improved motivation and engagement and a closer connection with nature. Practical activities will require risk assessments and schools to implement government suggested safety measures to protect pupils and staff against the transmission of COVID-19. These measures include organising pupils into protective bubbles, maintaining social distancing and using equipment safely.

Choose a key stage below for details about how these activities support different Areas of Learning.

Key Stage 1 Exemplar

Language and Literacy

Pupils are learning to:

  • tell their own stories based on personal experiences and imagination;
  • express thoughts, feelings and opinions in response to personal experiences, imaginary situations, literature, media and curricular topics and activities;
  • express opinions and give reasons based on what they have read;
  • understand and use a range of vocabulary by investigating and experimenting with language;
  • express thoughts, feelings and opinions in imaginative and factual writing; and
  • organise, structure and present ideas and information using traditional and digital means.

Mathematics and Numeracy

Pupils are learning to:

  • select the materials and mathematics appropriate for a task;
  • develop different approaches to problem-solving;
  • begin to organise their own work and work systematically;
  • understand mathematical language and be able to use it to talk about their work;
  • ask and respond to open-ended questions;
  • explain their way of working;
  • know ways to check their work;
  • understand and use the language associated with weight and time;
  • know and use the most commonly used units to measure in purposeful contexts;
  • choose and use simple measuring instruments, reading and interpreting them with reasonable accuracy; and
  • understand the conservation of measures.

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding

Pupils are learning to:

  • explore their self–esteem and self-confidence;
  • explore their own and others’ feelings and emotions and how their actions affect others;
  • explore positive attitudes to learning and achievement;
  • explore strategies and skills for keeping themselves healthy and safe; and
  • develop themselves as members of a community.

The Arts

Pupils are learning to:

  • investigate and respond to direct sensory experience, including visual, verbal, spatial and tactile dimensions, memory and imagination.

Physical Education

Pupils are learning to:

  • use different parts of the body to explore personal and general space and to move using simple actions;
  • listen to, and move in response to, different stimuli and accompaniments, for example verbal (music, poem, nursery rhyme, story, action words), visual, tactile, historical and cultural to create different types of dances;
  • move in a controlled manner, at different speeds and in different directions, using different levels in space (high, low), and different strengths (heavy, light);
  • perform simple steps and movements to given rhythms and musical phrases;
  • create, practise, remember and perform simple movement sequences; and
  • develop their movements progressively individually and in pairs.

The World Around Us

Pupils are learning to:

  • investigate people who are important to us and the jobs they do through exploring goods and services we are familiar with;
  • explore people from the past in the local and wider community; and
  • explore the variety of living things in the world.

Key Stage 2 Exemplar

Language and Literacy

Pupils are learning to:

  • identify and comment on the tools used by poets to affect the reader or engage attention;
  • tell, re-tell and interpret poetry based on memories and personal experiences;
  • use a variety of stylistic features to create mood and effect; and
  • express thoughts, feelings and opinions in imaginative and/or factual writing.

Mathematics and Numeracy

Pupils are learning to:

  • explore ideas, make and test predictions, and think creatively;
  • use a range of problem-solving strategies, suggesting and trying out different approaches when difficulties arise;
  • use interlocking cubes to explore design builds and visualise how their designs will appear from different viewpoints in 3D;
  • draw a coded 2D plan of their designs using squared paper and co-ordinates; and
  • build 3D designs using software available, such as Minecraft

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding

Pupils are learning to:

  • examine and explore their own and others’ feelings and emotions;
  • recognise, express and manage feelings in a positive and safe way; and
  • recognise that feelings and emotions may change at times of change and loss.

The Arts

Pupils are learning to:

  • use a range of media, materials, tools and processes to respond to first-hand experiences and memory, and to realise personal ideas;
  • listen and respond to their own and others’ music-making, thinking about, talking about and discussing a variety of characteristics within music that they create, perform or listen to; and
  • develop a range of drama strategies to express ideas.

Physical Education

Pupils are learning to:

  • develop effective use of movement in space (for example bend, stretch, turn, jump and glide) and direction (for example up, down, right, left, forward, backward, clockwise and anticlockwise);
  • move with increased control, co-ordination and poise, using a variety of actions and gestures which communicate ideas and feelings; and
  • create, practise and perform movement sequences.

The World Around Us

Pupils are learning to:

  • respond to the positive and negative impact that human influence can have on the earth’s ecosystems;
  • develop steps to enrich local and global heritage by protecting or preserving historic stories and artefacts; and
  • determine ways in which lifestyle choices can have a positive or negative impact on body organs and human health.

Areas of Learning

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding
Mathematics and Numeracy
Language and Literacy
The World Around Us

Skills and Capabilities

Cross-Curricular Skills
Using ICT
Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities
Managing Information
Working with Others
Being Creative
Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
Problem Solving
Self-Management
Self-Management (Improving own learning and performance)