Coding on way for pupils after maths revamp
Primary pupils from infant classes up will soon be learning the foundations of computer coding as part of a new maths curriculum.
It is in line with a developing international trend to introduce students at the earliest ages to the creative and logical thinking skills required in computer science.
The primary maths curriculum is undergoing its first revamp since 1999, with a view to making it fit for purpose for the modern age.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has published the draft curriculum for junior infants to second classes, while work is continuing on a new programme for third to sixth classes.
The draft is open for public consultation until February 2018, following which the NCCA will finalise its proposals for publication next autumn.
No date has yet been fixed for the implementation of the curriculum in schools, but it will be September 2019 or 2020 at the earliest.
Work on the maths programme was already under way last year when Education Minister Richard Bruton asked that coding be considered as part of the review.
Irish children show a big appetite for coding through the volunteer-led, community-based CoderDojo movement, while some primary teachers have introduced their pupils to it because of their own passion for the subject.
The NCCA acknowledged there has been much public interest in the question of the place of coding in primary schools, particularly around teaching and learning in maths.
In its introduction to its proposals, the NCCA explained that its new maths curriculum lays some of the foundations of coding through its emphasis on computational, creative and flexible thinking skills.
It points to the "playful collaborative and engaging learning experiences involved" across the different strands of the curriculum and notes: "In this way the new mathematics curriculum contributes to the foundations of coding" .
However, the NCCA added that in exploring coding in the wider primary curriculum in other countries, it has identified a number of different approaches in use internationally.
These include integrating some of the fundamental underpinnings of coding in maths and science, but also developing it across the curriculum as a key skill.
As well as an online questionnaire available on its website, as part of its consultation process, the NCCA is working with a network of teachers and principals trying out some of these approaches to integrating coding into the curriculum generally.