Northern Ireland news

Education minister publishes guidance for schools on curriculum planning

Education Minister Peter Weir

SCHOOLS are being issued with guidance on how to tailor and adapt the curriculum to support `recovery' when pupils return.

Since March, only children of key workers and vulnerable pupils have been attending classrooms for supervised learning.

All other children have been learning from home.

It is expected that pupils will return to classes from August 24.

In its new guidance, the department said it was very conscious that schools had extremely limited time to prepare for the delivery of remote learning prior to school closures.

It added there were challenges in the preparation for the adoption of a `blended' approach for the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year. Blended learning will involve a combination of face-to-face classroom time and out of class learning.

It suggests that schools may wish to prepare a transitional plan for 2020/21, which particularly addresses the specific challenges and whole-school priorities that will be faced in the next academic year as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

There are "no hard and fast solutions to what works", it adds.

Schools' plans in 2020/21 will be very much working documents that will evolve and adapt in light of wider societal and public heath changes and lessons learned at school and system level about blended learning.

While there may be a natural tendency after a period of extended closure for schools to try to ensure missed knowledge content is caught up quickly, the department says it would emphasise the key importance after many months away from the school environment of ensuring children have good emotional health and wellbeing,

"The Northern Ireland Curriculum is designed to have limited prescription, giving schools as much flexibility as possible in what they choose to teach, for how long and how often and to use approaches that best suit their pupils," said Education Minister Peter Weir.

"In these unprecedented times schools, therefore, have the freedom to provide lessons to suit the unique circumstances of their school community."

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