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For Written Answer on : 15/09/2021
Question Number(s): 434 Question Reference(s): 43919/21
Department: Education
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Education the research and programmes in place or planned to update the teaching of mathematics in primary and second-level schools; the funding available to support any such modernisation of the teaching of mathematics; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) advises the Minister for Education on curriculum and assessment for early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools.

The NCCA is in the process of consulting on a draft Primary Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2020) which will set forth the vision, principles, competencies, curriculum areas and associated time allocations in a redeveloped Primary School Curriculum. Following consultation on the draft framework, the NCCA plans to publish the draft curriculum for mathematics (junior infants to sixth class) for consultation. The findings from this consultation together with the consultation on the draft framework will help to clarify the relationship and connections between the draft Primary Mathematics Curriculum (PMC) and the full redeveloped primary curriculum.

In relation to the PMC from junior infants to second class a systematic review of the literature was conducted, concentrating on teaching and learning for children aged three to eight years. This comprised an international audit of mathematics curriculum policy (Burke, 2014); Research Report 17 (Dunphy et al., 2014) which focused on definitions, theories, development and progression in primary mathematics; and Research Report 18 (Dooley et al., 2014) which looked at pedagogy and learning more specifically. Drawing on this research base, a background paper and brief for development of the draft PMC (NCCA, 2016) was produced.  As part of this phase of the research and development of the draft PMC, the draft curriculum specification for junior infants to second class was published on the NCCA website in November 2017 for consultation. This consultation took place between October 2017 and March 2018. The report from this consultation (NCCA, 2018) added significantly to the research base.

Following a decision that the draft PMC should be a single specification from junior infants to sixth class, the second phase of research reports served to complement the existing research base by focusing on the senior classes of primary school. A research addendum to Research Reports 17 and 18 was compiled (Dooley, 2019) which looked at broad teaching and learning considerations for children in the upper years of primary school. This was further supplemented with five short research papers which examined core mathematical concepts, skills and processes with which children engage across the five mathematical domains (Delaney, 2020; Leavy, 2020; Nic Mhuirí, 2020a, 2020b; Twohill, 2020). 

At post primary level, the new Junior Cycle Mathematics higher and ordinary level specifications were introduced for first years in September 2018, and were due to be examined for the first time in the Junior Cycle examinations  2021. However, due to the exceptional circumstances brought on due to the COVID-19 pandemic these examinations were cancelled. Each of the new Junior Cycle subject specifications will be subject to an early enactment review by the NCCA. In relation to Senior Cycle it is anticipated that consideration of the NCCA’s Senior Cycle Review Advisory Report will give rise to further research in relation to curriculum and assessment.

The development of any new curricula is funded through the budget provided by the Department to the NCCA annually as part of the Estimates process.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST)  and Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) as Department of Education funded support services have responsibility for delivering professional development supports to teachers and school leaders in all areas of curriculum and policy for schools. Both services provide Maths CPD to schools and teachers which takes cognisance of Department of Education policy, NCCA curriculum guidance and highly effective national and international practice related to pedagogy in Mathematics Education.