The Curriculum for four to 11 year olds

Your child will study a wide range of subjects during their time at primary school and develop the skills they need for life and work. Knowing about the Curriculum can help you to support your child's learning

Curriculum: Areas of Learning

The Curriculum introduced from 2007, is made up of blocks of years known as key stages:

  • Year 1 and Year 2 of primary school are known as Foundation Stage
  • Years 3 and 4 of primary school are known as Key Stage 1
  • Years 5, 6, 7 of Primary school are known as Key Stage 2

The curriculum areas of learning at primary school are:

  • language and literacy
  • mathematics and numeracy
  • the arts
  • the world
  • personal development and mutual understanding
  • physical education

Through each area of learning, children develop the skills - called Cross-curricular skills and Other skills - that they need for life and work.

Cross-curricular skills Other skills
Communication Being creative
Using mathematics Working with others
Using ICT Self management
Using ICT Managing information
Using ICT Thinking, problem-solving and decision making

Schools also have to teach religious education following the core syllabus. Parents have the right to withdraw children from all or part of religious education. Some schools also teach a modern language.

Some schools may call the areas of learning by different names or teach topics that cut across more than one area.

Guides for parents on the curriculum

The Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) have produced two booklets for parents of primary and post-primary children on the curriculum and what to expect when their child starts school. 

Count, read: succeed

Every child needs to develop good literacy and numeracy skills to allow them to do well in education, to get a good job and to carry out a range of everyday activities for example shopping, surfing the internet, reading safety instructions.  

The school curriculum and assessment arrangements have a focus on literacy and numeracy. More support is given in the early years and for those with additional or special educational needs.


The strategy focuses on high-quality teaching for every child, with increasing support to meet any needs a child may have, for example, if they are having problems in literacy and numeracy.

Developing literacy skills

Literacy is the ability to read and use written information and to write appropriately for a range of different purposes. It is vital to learning across all areas of the curriculum and to daily life and social interaction.

Developing numeracy skills

Numeracy is applying the right mathematical skills to everyday and unfamiliar situations. It includes personal finance skills, thinking mathematically in everyday situations and applying reasoning and problem-solving skills.

It underpins science and technology and is vital to success in the 'knowledge economy'.


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