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Developing Key Competences at School in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for Policy National overview 2011/12

United Kingdom Northern Ireland

Key Competences in the curriculum Northern Ireland


The 2006 European framework for key competences for lifelong learning was an outcome of the joint work of the European Commission and the Member States within the Education and Training 2010 Work Programme. The framework identified a set of key competences, defined as the knowledge, skills and attitudes seen as necessary for personal fulfilment and development, social inclusion, active citizenship and employment. This report on Key Competences in Northern Ireland is one of a suite of three reports from Eurydice at NFER which shows how the school curriculum and assessment frameworks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland support the development of these competences. The report also summarises current and recent initiatives to improve learning in these areas. The following subject areas are included: English / Irish / literacy / reading mathematics / numeracy science modern foreign languages digital competence / ICT social and civic competence (including sex and relationships education and citizenship) initiative, entrepreneurship and enterprise education. The text was completed in summer 2012, with some subsequent additions to the reforms section. The content relates mainly to the 2011/12 school year. This report focuses on compulsory education. In Northern Ireland, compulsory education begins at age 4 and comprises: foundation stage (ages 46); key stage 1 (ages 68); key stage 2 (ages 811); key stage 3 (ages 1114); and key stage 4 (ages 1416). The Northern Ireland Curriculum comprises compulsory areas of learning, as well as skills and competences, for each of these stages. The report also includes brief information on general (academic) programmes for 16 to 18/19-year olds in post-compulsory education.

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

October 2012

Key Competence Mother Tongue (Reading)


National strategy / action plan In March 2011, a national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy Count, Read: Succeed. A Strategy to Improve Outcomes in Literacy and Numeracy was launched. http://www.deni.gov.uk/count_read_succeed_a_strategy_to_improve_outcomes_in_literacy_and_numeracy.pdf The strategy aims to support teachers and school leaders in their work to raise overall levels of attainment in literacy and numeracy among young people and narrow the attainment gap in educational outcomes. Status in the curriculum Language and literacy (English) is a compulsory subject in the Northern Ireland Curriculum throughout compulsory education (416). At key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) and key stage 4 (ages 1416), reading comes under the language and literacy area of learning and at key stage 3 (ages 1114), it forms part of the syllabus for English. There is no National Curriculum for students aged 16 to 18/19 in post-compulsory education. Students are free to choose any combination of the examination courses within the limitation of a school or colleges timetable and the range of subjects it offers. The curriculum is set out in terms of areas of learning and cross-curricular skills which are necessary for the other areas of learning. At key stages 1 to 4 (ages 616), communication is a cross-curricular skill which embraces reading. At primary level in particular, the cross-curricular application of language and literacy is emphasised. In Irish-medium primary schools and units the foundation stage (ages 46) is an immersion programme and the statutory language and literacy area of study is in Irish. In key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) in these schools/units, language and literacy in both Irish and English is compulsory. As with English-medium schools, reading forms part of the language and literacy curriculum alongside writing, and talking and listening. The primary curriculum in Irishmedium schools covers the same areas of learning and competences as English-medium schools. Further information is available: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/irish_medium/foundation/NIC_Primary_IrishMedium.pdf Learning outcomes / objectives Language and literacy (in English and/or Irish as appropriate in Irish-medium schools), as a compulsory area of learning, has a programme of study and attainment targets. The programmes of study set out the essential matters, skills and processes which must be covered in schools and the eight attainment targets describe the range of knowledge, skills and understanding which pupils are to master as they progress through school. The programmes of study and attainment targets in reading for the foundation stage (ages 46) are available: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/foundation_stage/areas_of_learning/language_and_literacy/LL_Reading.pdf The programmes of study and attainment targets for key stages 1 (ages 68) and 2 (ages 811) are available:
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http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-index-pg.htm The curriculum for Irish-medium primary schools (foundation stage, key stage 1 and key stage 2, ages 411) is also available online: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/irish_medium/foundation/NIC_Primary_IrishMedium.pdf The programmes of study for key stages 3 (ages 1114) and 4 (ages 1416) and attainment targets for key stage 3 are available here: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-ks3-4posindex-pg.htm For pupils in key stage 4 (ages 1416), learning outcomes and objectives are contained within subject criteria for GCSE examinations. There are separate subject criteria for English, English Literature and English Language. Pupils generally take either English (one GCSE) or English Language and English Literature (two GCSEs). The qualifications themselves are offered by awarding organisations; more detailed information is provided in their GCSE specifications. For students in post-compulsory education, the learning outcomes and objectives depend on the programmes selected. Cross-curricular skills Communication is central to the whole curriculum. Children should be able to communicate in order to express themselves socially, emotionally and physically, to develop as individuals, engage with others and contribute as members of society. The modes of communication include talking and listening, reading and writing. However, effective communication also includes non-verbal modes of communication, wider literacy and the use of multimedia and ICT technologies which may combine different modes. Further information about communication as a cross-curricular skill is available: Foundation stage http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/foundation_stage/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/communication.asp Reading in the foundation stage http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/foundation_stage/areas_of_learning/language_and_literacy/LL_Reading.pdf Key stages 1 and 2 http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stages_1_and_2/skills_and_capabilities/crosscurricular_skills/communication.asp

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

October 2012

Key stage 3 http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/skills_and_capabilities/cross-curricular_skills/communication.asp Reading at key stage 3 http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/expansion/Reading_17_web.pdf Key stage 4: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/ Nationally standardised tests and examinations Foundation stage (ages 46), key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) There is no formal assessment of learning at foundation stage (ages 46). Annually, pupil progress is assessed in each of the areas of learning, including language and literacy, and in cross-curricular skills, such as communication and reading. Annual assessment of the cross-curricular skills is done by reference to level descriptions. At the end of key stage 1 (age 8), and the end of key stage 2 (age 11), pupils are assessed in each of the areas of learning and in the cross-curricular skills of communication, which includes reading, and using mathematics by reference to level descriptions/levels of progression. In addition, teachers are required to make a summative judgement about the level each pupil has achieved in each cross-curricular skill. Additionally, in the autumn term for pupils in key stage 2 (children aged 8 to 11), there is diagnostic assessment using a computer-based method. InCAS (Interactive Computerised Assessment System) provides assessments in reading and general mathematics and optional associated assessments and is designed to support schools in identifying pupils strengths and areas for improvement. The outcomes from the InCAS assessments are intended to help teachers plan their teaching during the school year to meet the needs of pupils in their classrooms and also to provide schools with useful information for monitoring individual pupil progress. Key stage 3 (ages 1114) At the end of key stage 3 (age 14), teachers are required to assess pupils in language and literacy (English and/or Irish as appropriate in Irish-medium schools) and send these results to the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), so that standards across schools can be monitored. Assessment outcomes in these subjects can be based purely on teacher assessment, or on a combination of teacher assessment and the results of centrally provided tests. These tests, which used to be statutory, can now be used by schools on a voluntary basis. End of key stage 3 assessment results must also be reported to parents. Key stage 4 (ages 1416) and beyond (16+) At key stage 4 (age 16), assessment is usually through the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a single subject qualification. The number and range of subjects to be taken are not regulated. However, most pupils take
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GCSE English (either as separate GCSEs in English Language and English Literature or as a single GCSE in English). Success in this subject is highly valued by employers and for progression to further study. There is no Northern Ireland National Curriculum for students aged 16 to 18/19 in post-compulsory education. Programmes of study for students in this phase reflect their choice of courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications. General Certificate of Education Advanced level examinations (GCE A levels) are the most widely taken general qualification, with students typically selecting three subjects. A levels are available in English Literature and in English Language and Literature combined. Communication is included in the Key Skills suite of qualifications. Further information is available from: http://www.ccea.org.uk/key_skills/ Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement Long term targets for improving achievement in literacy are set out in the Department of Education strategy document Count, Read: Succeed. A Strategy to Improve Outcomes in Literacy and Numeracy. http://www.deni.gov.uk/count_read_succeed_a_strategy_to_improve_outcomes_in_literacy_and_numeracy.pdf In 2011/12, at key stages 2 (ages 811) and 3 (ages 1114), 80 per cent of pupils or more are expected to reach the target level in communication. By 2019/20, targets have been set for these levels to have risen to 90 per cent at key stage 2 and 85 per cent at key stage 3. Main initiatives/measures to improve motivation Booktrust Through funding from the Department of Education (Northern Ireland) and the backing of publishers, Booktrust (http://www.booktrust.org.uk/) runs programmes such as Bookstart, Booktime, Booked Up and the Letterbox Club. Bookstart aims to give a free pack of books to every baby in Northern Ireland at seven months and at three years. Booktime is aimed at children shortly after they first start school and Booked Up is aimed at children in their first year of secondary school. The Letterbox Club provides books for children in local authority care. Specialist books are also offered for children who are blind or partially sighted (Booktouch) and for deaf children (Bookshine). Bookstart was launched as a pilot programme in 1992. In 2012/13, the School Library Pack will replace Booked Up and will give school libraries fiction and non-fiction books and resources to encourage a reading culture. http://www.bookstart.org.uk/about-us/bookstart-around-the-world/northern-ireland/ Tesco reading programme Tesco Supermarket and the Belfast Giants ice hockey team launched a joint literacy programme in 2011 in partnership with the Northern Ireland Education Minister, through which the ice hockey players will visit 40 primary schools and read to the children. http://www.belfastgiants.com/archives/tesco-belfast-giants-team-up-for-literacy-programme-2/
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The Summer Reading Challenge The Summer Reading Challenge aims to encourage children, aged 411, to visit the public library and read six books over the long summer break when their reading skills can decline without regular reading activity at school. The challenge is promoted in schools before the summer holidays. It has a different theme each year and uses interactive materials such as stickers to collect, a website with author blogging, and games and creative activities run by libraries. This ongoing programme has been running since 1998 and is coordinated by the Reading Agency, a charitable organisation which receives support from Libraries NI in Northern Ireland. http://readingagency.org.uk/children/summer-reading-challenge/

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

October 2012

Key Competence Mathematics


National strategy / action plan In March 2011, the national strategy Count, Read: Succeed. A Strategy to Improve Outcomes in Literacy and Numeracy was launched. http://www.deni.gov.uk/count_read_succeed_a_strategy_to_improve_outcomes_in_literacy_and_numeracy.pdf The strategy aims to support teachers and school leaders in their work to raise overall levels of attainment in literacy and numeracy among young people and narrow the attainment gap in educational outcomes. Status in the curriculum In Northern Ireland, mathematics and numeracy is a compulsory area of learning throughout compulsory education (416). After age 16, pupils can opt to study the subject further. Using mathematics is also a cross-curricular skill, which describes pupils confidence and ability to apply mathematical skills in a range of meaningful contexts. Learning outcomes / objectives Mathematics and numeracy, as a compulsory area of learning, has a programme of study and attainment targets. Programmes of study set out the essential matters, skills and processes which must be covered in schools and the attainment targets describe the range of knowledge, skills and understanding which pupils are to master as they progress through school. Pupils progress in relation to the attainment targets from key stage 1 to 3 (ages 614) is measured against level descriptions from 1 (lowest) to 8 (highest). For each stage of education, the statutory requirements for mathematics and numeracy are set out:. Foundation stage (ages 46) http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/foundation_stage/areas_of_learning/statutory_requirements/fs_mathematics_ numeracy.pdf Key stage 1 (ages 68) http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stages_1_and_2/statutory_requirements/ks1_mathematics_numeracy.pdf Key stage 2 (ages 811) http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stages_1_and_2/statutory_requirements/ks2_mathematics_numeracy.pdf Key stage 3 (ages 1114) At key stage 3, mathematics includes the contributory elements mathematics and financial capability. http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stage_3/statutory_requirements/ks3_mathematics_new.pdf Key stage 4 (ages 1416) At key stage 4, schools are obliged to offer students access to a course which will result in pupils taking a nationally recognised qualification. http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/areas_of_learning/mathematics_and_numeracy/
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The programmes of study and attainment targets for key stages 1 and 2 are available: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-index-pg.htm The programmes of study for key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116), and attainment targets for key stage 3 (ages 1114), are available online: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-ks3-4posindex-pg.htm Nationally standardised tests and examinations In the autumn term for pupils in key stage 2 (children aged 8 to 11), there is diagnostic assessment using a computerbased method. InCAS (Interactive Computerised Assessment System) provides assessments in reading and general mathematics and optional associated assessments and is designed to support schools in identifying pupils strengths and areas for improvement. The outcomes from the InCAS assessments are intended to help teachers plan their teaching during the school year to meet the needs of pupils in their classrooms and also to provide schools with useful information for monitoring individual pupil progress. At the end of key stage 3 (age 14), teachers are required to assess pupils in mathematics and numeracy' and send these results to the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), so that standards across schools can be monitored. Assessment outcomes in these subjects can be based purely on teacher assessment, or on a combination of teacher assessment and the results of centrally provided tests. These tests, which used to be statutory, can now be used by schools on a voluntary basis. End of key stage 3 assessment results must also be reported to parents. For pupils in key stage 4 (ages 1416), learning outcomes and objectives are contained within subject criteria for GCSE examinations. There are separate subject criteria for mathematics and statistics, which can be taken as an additional optional subject. The qualifications themselves are offered by awarding organisations; more detailed information is provided in their GCSE specifications. For students in post-compulsory education (16+), the learning outcomes and objectives depend on the programmes selected. Application of number is included in the Key Skills suite of qualifications. Further information is available from: http://www.ccea.org.uk/key_skills/ Standards of pupil competence in mathematics and numeracy are assessed through the cross-curricular skill of using mathematics at all key stages. Across primary level (ages 411): http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/expansion/UMaths_15_forweb.pdf
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Key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611): http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stages_1_and_2/skills_and_capabilities/crosscurricular_skills/using_mathematics.asp Key stage 3 (ages 1114): http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/skills_and_capabilities/cross-curricular_skills/using_mathematics.asp Key stage 4 (ages 1416): http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/ Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement Long term targets for achievement in numeracy are set out in the Department of Education Strategy document Count, Read: Succeed. http://www.deni.gov.uk/count_read_succeed_a_strategy_to_improve_outcomes_in_literacy_and_numeracy.pdf In 2011/12, at key stages 2 (ages 811) and 3 (ages 1114), 80 per cent of pupils or more are expected to reach the target level in mathematics. By 2019/20, targets have been set for these levels to have risen to 90 per cent at key stage 2 and 85 per cent at key stage 3. Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Programme aims to improve support for students aged 318 in the field of mathematics and to widen access to the formal science and mathematics curriculum for all. STEMNET the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network encourages young people to understand STEM subjects and broaden their opportunities, while supporting Northern Ireland's future competitiveness. The Network involves schools, colleges, business, other organisations and individuals such as local experts. Over 24 000 volunteers participate in the STEM Ambassadors Programme including employers. STEM Ambassadors are people from STEM backgrounds who volunteer as inspiring role models for young people. They can contribute both to regular lessons or participate in extra-curricular activities such as STEM clubs, careers days and visits. http://www.stemnet.org.uk/ STEMNET Northern Ireland provides advice, support and guidance on STEM enhancement and enrichment (E&E) to schools and colleges, employers and other partners, and manages the STEM Ambassador Programme http://www.stemnet.org.uk/regions/1526/content/northern-ireland-stemnet-presence The STEMWORKS website containing case studies of good practice and useful teaching resources to support STEM is available through the curriculum website. http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/STEMWorks/ In 2009, the report of the STEM review in Northern Ireland was published by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). This reviewed STEM provision at school level and made recommendations about areas for improvement. http://www.delni.gov.uk/report_of_the_stem_review.pdf

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

October 2012

Key Competence Science


National strategy / action plan Status in the curriculum There is no national strategy or action plan for science and technology learning in Northern Ireland. Science and technology is a compulsory subject throughout compulsory education (ages 416). At foundation stage (ages 46) and key stages 1 (ages 68) and 2 (ages 811), it is taught as part of the area of learning The world around us. Curriculum documentation sets out what should be taught and schools decide how to implement this. As a result, during any key stage, schools can decide to teach integrated science or separate science subjects. Typically, science is taught in an integrated fashion in primary schools, but there is more variation at post-primary (secondary) level. There is no National Curriculum for students aged 16 to 18/19 in post-compulsory education. Students are free to choose any combination of the examination courses within the limitation of a school or colleges timetable and the range of subjects it offers. Learning outcomes / objectives Science and technology as a compulsory area of learning has programmes of study and attainment targets. The programmes of study set out the essential matters, skills and processes which must be covered in schools, and the attainment targets describe the range of knowledge, skills and understanding which pupils are to master as they progress through school. Pupils progress in relation to the attainment targets from key stages 1 to 3 (ages 614) is measured against level descriptions from 1 (lowest) to 8 (highest). http://www.deni.gov.uk/the_northern__ireland__curriculum_-_amended_05-2.pdf The programmes of study and attainment targets for key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) are available: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-index-pg.htm The programmes of study for key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116) and attainment targets for key stage 3 are also online: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-ks3-4posindex-pg.htm Nationally standardised tests and examinations At key stage 4 (age 16), assessment is usually through the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a single subject qualification. Science subjects can be studied as one, two or three GCSEs. Pupils are offered a single or double programme of study. The single programme covers the three science subjects of biology, physics and chemistry together, leading to the award of one GCSE and the double programme covers the three subjects together, leading to the award of two GCSEs. Alternatively, each of the subjects of biology, physics and chemistry can be taken as individual GCSEs. The number and range of subjects to be taken are not regulated.
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Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

There is no National Curriculum for students aged 16 to 18/19 in post-compulsory education. Programmes of study for students in this phase reflect their choice of courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications. GCE A levels are the most widely taken general qualification, with students typically selecting three subjects. Science subjects available at A level include physics, chemistry and biology and others such as electronics and environmental science. Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement There are no specific initiatives to tackle low achievement in science. All teachers are expected to differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of all students. For pupils whose attainment falls significantly below the expected levels at a particular stage, a much greater degree of differentiation will be necessary. Pupils with additional learning needs may receive additional support. See the main initiatives/measures to improve motivation sub-section in the Mathematics section above for details of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programmes to improve motivation to study science.

Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

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Key Competence Foreign Languages


National strategy / action plan There is no national strategy or action plan for modern languages in Northern Ireland. Note: the terminology used in Northern Ireland is modern languages, not modern foreign languages or foreign languages. This is because, in English-speaking schools, Irish is included in the languages which may be studied, but cannot be described as a foreign language. Status in the curriculum All pupils start learning a modern language as a compulsory subject from the age of 11. For the last two years of compulsory education, ages 1416, it is not compulsory for pupils to learn a language but all schools must offer a language as an option. There is flexibility regarding which languages schools can teach: the language(s) must be any official language of the EU (other than English and, in Irish-medium schools, Irish). All schools have the autonomy to determine additional educational provision beyond the basic minimum in accordance with their particular circumstances. In this context, although study of a language is compulsory for three years only (age 1114), schools can choose to make the subject compulsory for older or younger pupils if they wish to do so. At primary level, at least fifty per cent of schools teach modern languages. There is no compulsory core curriculum for pupils aged 1618. However pupils may opt to study languages after the age of 16, usually by taking A levels (see below). Learning outcomes / objectives Although no specific reference is made to the issue of priority regarding the acquisition of four major skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) in the curricula, the equal importance of the four major skills is implied by the organisation of the curriculum and assessment arrangements. There are no recommendations establishing minimum levels of attainment for modern languages corresponding to the six proficiency levels in modern languages as defined and described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe). The non-statutory framework for modern languages in Northern Ireland mainly covers key stage 3 (ages 1114), as this is the only key stage during which languages must be taught. The framework does, however, also refer to how this fits in with possible learning at key stages 2 (ages 811) and 4 (ages 1416). http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/non_statutory/ks3_modern_languages_ns_gu idance.pdf The statutory requirements at key stage 3 (ages 1114) are available online: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/statutory_requirements/ks3_modernlanguag es.pdf Attainment targets at key stage 3 (ages 1114), and the programme of study at key stages 3 and 4 are also available
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online. The attainment targets relate to the individual skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculum-and-assessment/80-programmes-of-study/80-curriculum-andassessment-programmes-of-study-ks3-4posindex-pg.htm At key stage 4 (age 16), pupils are assessed through the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a single subject qualification. The Northern Ireland Curriculum also includes thematic units which show how a number of subject strands can contribute to the teaching of key elements of the curriculum. One of these is employability, under which pupils may take a module in modern languages. This thematic unit gives pupils opportunities to practise (functional) language relevant to the world of work and to understand how language-specific and generic skills acquired through language learning will enhance career options and increase mobility. http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/connected_learning/thematic_units/employability/modernlanguages.asp Assessment There are no statutory tests in modern languages at key stages 1 to 3 (ages 6 to 14). At key stage 4 (age 16), pupils are assessed through the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), a single subject qualification. There are no regulations governing the number and range of subjects to be taken; these depend on the policy of the school and the choices of the individual pupil. Schools may also offer alternative nonGCSE accreditation, such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Asset Languages. There is no National Curriculum for students aged 16 to 18/19 in post-compulsory education. Programmes of study for students in this phase reflect their choice of courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications. GCE A levels are the most widely taken general qualification, with students typically selecting three subjects. Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement In 2001, the Education and Training Inspectorate, (ETI), published the following document on improving modern languages at post-primary (secondary) level. Areas for improvement and priorities for action are identified, and include the under-developed use and provision of ICT and the lack of diversification in the languages taught. http://www.etini.gov.uk/improving-modern-languages-in-post-primary-schools.pdf There are no current initiatives aimed at improving motivation to study a modern language.

Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

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Key Competence Digital Competence


National strategy / action plan Status in the curriculum There is currently no national ICT strategy or action plan in Northern Ireland. Using ICT, along with communication and using mathematics, is one of the three statutory cross-curricular skills that form part of the Northern Ireland Curriculum. For more information on cross-curricular skills see the subsection status in the curriculum in the mother tongue (reading) section above. The expectations at key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stages_1_and_2/skills_and_capabilities/cross-curricular_skills/ict.asp The expectations at key stage 3 (ages 1114) are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/skills_and_capabilities/cross-curricular_skills/ict.asp The expectations at key stage 4 (ages 1416) are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/skills_and_capabilities/cross_curricular_skills/ Assessing and reporting the cross-curricular skill of using ICT will become a statutory requirement at the end of key stages 1, 2 and 3 (ages 8, 11 and 14) from September 2013. In preparation for the introduction of the statutory assessment schools can take part in a voluntary ICT accreditation scheme in which pupils are awarded with a certificate detailing their level of competence at the end of each key stage. At key stage 4 (age 16), pupils can take a GCSE in ICT or a short course GCSE. There are also non-GCSE qualifications at the same level available for schools to offer. After key stage 4, pupils may opt to take an A level in Applied ICT or ICT. Further information is available via the CCEA web page for ICT A level: http://www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/ict/rev_gce/index.asp Information and communications technology is also included in the Key Skills suite of qualifications. Further information is available from: http://www.ccea.org.uk/key_skills/ There are no special arrangements to tackle low achievement in ICT. Teachers are expected to differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of all students. For pupils whose attainment falls significantly below the expected levels at a particular stage, a much greater degree of differentiation will be necessary. Pupils with additional learning needs may receive extra support. Bring IT On NI is an IT careers attractiveness programme designed by e-skills UK, a not-for-profit, employer-led organisation, licensed by government as the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology. With the bringitonni.info website and a full programme of talks and live events, Bring IT On NI aims to get 1419 year olds excited about IT careers by showing them how technology impacts their daily lives stimulating demand among young people for technology-related degrees and careers, as well as reducing the gender imbalance in IT. http://bringitonni.info/ http://www.e-skills.com/about-e-skills-uk/e-skills-in-the-nations/northern-ireland/
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Learning outcomes / objectives

Assessment

Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement

Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

Key Competence Social and Civic Competences


National strategy / action plan There is no national strategy for citizenship education, although it is included in the Northern Ireland Curriculum. The community relations, equality and diversity in education policy was launched by the Department of Education in 2011. Specific to the Northern Ireland political context, the policy aims to contribute to improving relations between communities by educating children and young people to develop self-respect and respect for others, by providing them with opportunities to spend time and build relationships with those of different backgrounds, in both formal and non-formal education settings. http://www.deni.gov.uk/cred_policy_doc1.pdf Supporting materials are also available: http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/20-community-relations-pg/supportingmaterials.htm Status in the curriculum Citizenship Citizenship is not a separate area of the curriculum. It is covered in different learning areas depending on the phase of education. At primary level (ages 411), citizenship education is part of the 'personal development and mutual understanding' learning area. At secondary level (ages 1116), citizenship is studied as part of the strand 'local and global citizenship' of the area of learning 'learning for life and work'. For both learning areas (personal development and mutual understanding, and local and global citizenship), schools are expected to provide a variety of learning opportunities during play and in planned activities/topics in all curricular areas. Sex and relationships education At primary school, in the foundation stage and key stages 1 and 2 (ages 411), sex and relationships education may come under health education. Sex education itself is not statutory and guidance has been issued: http://www.deni.gov.uk/2001-15-2.pdf At key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116), sex and relationships education is taught as part of the personal development strand under the compulsory learning for life and work area of learning. Learning outcomes / objectives Personal development and mutual understanding (PD&MU) The compulsory Northern Ireland Curriculum area of learning personal development and mutual understanding (PD&MU) in the foundation stage and key stages 1 and 2 (ages 4-11), focuses on encouraging pupils to become personally, emotionally and socially effective; to lead healthy, safe and fulfilled lives; and to become confident,
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independent and responsible citizens, making informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives. The strand mutual understanding in the local and wider community covers themes such as relationships; rules, rights and responsibilities; managing conflict; and learning to live as members of the community. The statutory requirements for the foundation stage (ages 46) are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/foundation_stage/areas_of_learning/statutory_requirements/fs_pdmu.pdf The statutory requirements for key stages 1 and 2 (ages 611) are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stages_1_and_2/areas_of_learning/pdmu/ Learning for life and work At key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116), the area of learning, learning for life and work covers local and global citizenship. The statutory requirements for key stage 3 (ages 1116) are online: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/local_and_global_citiz enship.asp The statutory requirements for local and global citizenship at key stage 4 (ages 1416) are also available online: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/ Sex and relationships education At key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116), sex and relationships education is taught as part of the personal development strand under the compulsory learning for life and work area of learning. Guidance is available: Key stage 3 (ages 1114) http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/non_statutory/ks3_PD_ns_guidance_Aug201 1.pdf Key stage 4 (ages 1416) http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/key_stage_4/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/ks4_PD_guidanc e_Aug2011.pdf Assessment There is no nationally standardised test or examination in social and civic competences. At key stage 3 (ages 1114), schools must assess pupils in the learning for life and work area of learning based on teacher assessment and report to parents. There are no specific initiatives to tackle low achievement.
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Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement

Key Competences in the curriculum in the United Kingdom Northern Ireland, 2011/12

Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation

A range of online resources for teachers in the local and global citizenship area of learning aims to assist the teaching of civic and social competences in Northern Ireland: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/local_and_global_citiz enship.asp A website supporting teachers in teaching aspects of the global dimension in schools is also available: http://www.globaldimensioninschools.org/index.php

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Key Competence Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship


National strategy / action plan Status in the curriculum There is no national strategy or action plan for entrepreneurship education in Northern Ireland. Entrepreneurship education is not a separate statutory subject in the Northern Ireland Curriculum, but is explicitly recognised in employability, which is part of the compulsory area of learning learning for life and work at key stages 3 and 4 (ages 1116). The requirements for the area of learning learning for life and work relating to employability at key stage 3 (11 14), are set out here: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/employability.asp The requirements for learning for life and work: employability at key stage 4 (1416), are set out below. One specific area of this strand is to explore self-employment and identify relevant sources of support: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_4/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/ Assessment There is no nationally standardised test or examination in entrepreneurship. For pupils who choose to take a GCSE in business studies, learning outcomes and objectives are contained in subject criteria for GCSE examinations. For students in post-compulsory education, the learning outcomes and objectives depend on the programmes selected. Students can choose to study an A level in business studies. The qualifications themselves are offered by awarding organisations; more detailed information is provided in their GCSE and GCE A level specifications. Main initiatives / measures to tackle low achievement There are no specific initiatives or measures to tackle low achievement in entrepreneurship or enterprise education/business studies. However resources to support teaching in the general compulsory learning area learning for life and work are available through this page: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/key_stage_3/areas_of_learning/learning_for_life_and_work/ There are no specific initiatives or measures to improve motivation in this subject area.

Learning outcomes / objectives

Main initiatives / measures to improve motivation

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Planned Reforms Affecting Key Competences


Essential Skills are the basic skills qualifications available to pupils who are not at the level to sit GCSEs in English, English Literature or mathematics. The Department of Education released a circular in November 2011 advising principals (headteachers) and governors of post-primary (secondary) schools, the Education and Library Boards, the National Council for the Curriuclum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), education councils and teachers unions that it is considering how best to increase opportunities for young people not taking GCSEs to achieve level 2 qualifications in communication and using mathematics to support the literacy and numeracy strategy. For more information see: http://www.deni.gov.uk/essential_skills_qualifications_in_post-primary_schools_-_bilingual_version.pdf

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