The Primary Curriculum
The primary curriculum is an eight year cycle from Junior Infants to Sixth. It aims to provide a wide learning experience and a rich variety of approaches that cater for the needs of individuals.
School Self Evaluation Report
The Importance of Learning Tables
We sometimes talk about giving your child the ‘gift of reading’ when we teach them to read. Helping your child to master their Tables in an invaluable gift also.
Tables are a basic essential for when learning mathematics. Children need to master them. Unless they learn their Tables, it is difficult for children to learn other aspects of maths. Failing to learn Tables makes learning more complicated maths, more difficult than it needs to be. If a child can automatically know the answer to a table then more difficult maths will be less challenging.
Children need to be able to rattle off their Tables like they know their own name. If the children have the answers to the Tables at the tip of their tongue then they can concentrate on learning the methodology of new sum. There are at least two concepts in primary school maths which children find challenging: long division and fractions. In a typical long division sum, a child will need to divide, multiply and subtract several times. Working with fractions also need the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Without knowing their Tables, children will find this very hard.
Teachers are finding that children think they don’t understand a sum when all that is happening is that they are making simple mistakes in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. This can be discouraging for the child. Children may view themselves as someone who doesn’t understand maths, when in reality all it is is that they don’t know their Tables.
- Children can become over reliant on calculators.
- They don’t develop estimating skills.
- Keying in the wrong number can happen.
But because the student hasn’t developed estimating skills they are then unaware when a particular answer is unlikely.
Addition and Take Away Tables are taught in 1st and 2nd class. It is school policy that Tables to 6 are taught in 1st class. The class teacher revises these in 2nd and then the children continue to learn Tables up to adding and taking away 11 and 12. 1st/2nd Class provide ‘a window of opportunity’ to learn addition/subtraction Tables. It is important to master these Tables by the end of 2nd because
- in 3rd and 4th the focus changes to multiplication and division.
- if a child knows their simple number facts then they can give their full attention to methodology when being taught new maths
Multiplication/Division taught in 3rd and 4th.
Regular revision of Tables is part of the 5th and 6th class programme. Teachers can teach the Tables, but children have to learn them. Even though teachers introduce Tables from 1st class, teachers of 5th and 6th find they are teaching Tables that should have been learnt earlier in a child’s schooling.
In 1st and 2nd Class we practise Tables, in a concrete way, using lollipop sticks and unifix cubes. We also use the table book.
Children learn in different ways. Many respond to working with concrete objects; lollipop sticks, cubes, smarties. Some children learn best by singing or chanting the table. For some, keeping track of their Tables on their fingers (a kinaesthetic approach) helps.
Towards of 2nd class multiplication is introduced as repeated addition. In class the children learn about number patterns and learn to count in 2s, 4s, 5s, etc., using the hundred square.
Tables are regularly given as homework. Sometimes children think that homework of a ‘learning off’ type is less important than written homework. But learning Tables is very important. Learning Tables needn’t be done at the kitchen table. You can work on them with your child on the journey to and from school or while waiting in the supermarket queue!
- Let your children see, that you place value on learning Tables; that you think Tables are important.
- Show your child how quickly an answer should be arrived at!
- Find out what your child already knows.
- Focus on what your child needs to learn.
- Involve them in setting goals.
- Monitor progress in such a way that they too can see it.
- Be encouraging.
- Praise success.
- Spend quality time together practising.
- Have fun!
- Click on this LINK to find online activities for learning tables.
May - Standardised Tests
Standardised Tests are held in the school during the month of May. Please ensure good attendance during this time.
‘A test only measures what the test asks’
Parents may find the following information useful :
The teacher looks at the result in conjunction with how the child has succeeded at their schoolwork over a full year
and decides if it reflects reality or not. A parent generally shouldn’t be overly concerned about test results unless the teacher is.
Parents can look back over completed workbooks and copybooks too. Doing so may show that may show that some days children may do excellent work and present their work beautifully and on another they may not. This is not unusual. Children after all are children! We wouldn’t have them any other way.
How do teachers prepare children for the test? It is accepted as more than ‘good practice’ not to ‘teach to the test’. In fact it is vital not to ‘teach to the test’ as doing so invalidates the test.
We teach the Maths and English programme as laid down in the Irish Primary Curriculum. We do not prepare the children for the specific questions in the standardised tests. If we did that would negate the ‘standardised’ aspect of them and the results wouldn’t be authentic.
These results just show how a child performed in one test with a set of questions. The format may be unfamiliar.
A test may be designed to be given in 2nd class or in the Autumn Term of 3rd. For that reason, some of the sums included by the creators of this test are from the 3rd class curriculum.
So a small amount of content, included towards the end of the test will be unfamiliar to the students. Some children will approach these more difficult questions as problems to be solved and with a ‘can do’ attitude may get some right. Others will be bothered by this unfamiliarity and say ‘Teacher you never taught us how to do this!’
The English or Maths tests are completed in a day. We are advised not to ‘test’ on a Monday or a Friday or on a day after an event like ‘Sports Day’ or the day of the School Tour.
Children find the standardized tests challenging. At 2nd class, one section of the English test is 40 minutes long and the Maths test can take over an hour. That’s a long time for a 7 or 8 year old to sit quietly, work independently, concentrate and to remain motivated.
While the teacher is there to supervise and ‘support’ their class, those doing the standardized tests do not get help or advice from the teacher. Exams by their very nature, are all too often a test of stamina
as much as a test of knowledge and abilities.
Then there are ‘exam skills’. These are still very much developing in primary school. Time management is one of these skills. It is considered ‘good practice’ that the teacher moves around the classroom during the test. So, for example, if a child gets ‘stuck’ on one question they can be advised to ‘leave it until later and move on’.
On the other hand some children are inclined to rush and do not understand the importance of checking back over their work.
The standardised test results are a ‘snapshot’ on the day. Perhaps a child was tired or distracted. Maybe he or she didn’t realise the significance of the test and so didn’t do their best.
Teachers walk a tightrope between reminding the children to do their best yet not cause children unnecessary worry.
It is useful for the teacher to analyse why mistakes were made particularly in the Sigma T Maths Test.
The children do the first two pages with direction from the teacher. They are then given up to an hour to complete over forty questions. Some children come up very quickly to say they have ‘finished’ the paper. Some children equate doing best with finishing first.
Coming up after even twenty minutes
means that a child has given less than 30 seconds to
– reading a question,
– deciding what needs to be done,
– arriving at an answer
– and checking it is correct.
Simple mistakes can be made by those in a hurry. For example; at one point the students are asked to count money. Instead they are inclined to count the number of coins on the page.
Many of the sums had graphics to help the children. Children in a hurry, miscount and mix up signs;
adding instead of subtracting for example.
In the end of the year reports, results will be given in the form of STen scores.
(A system of scoring from 1-10)
Just a few simple mistakes like those described and a child can drop a STen. Sometimes it can be a case of two or three more correct answers and a Sten would go up.
If the child got a STen of 5 (average) last year and a STen of 4 (below average) this year, it can seem like the child is beginning to have difficulties whereas the reality is, if they hadn’t made two or three avoidable errors like those described, they would still be at a 5.
Remember too, your child may be tired after a morning of testing.
Please ensure good attendance during the month of May so that your child does not miss their standardised tests.
Tests don’t measure sports
Tests don’t measure art,
Tests don’t measure music,
Or the kindness in your heart.
Tests don’t see your beauty,
Tests don’t know your worth,
Tests don’t see the reasons,
You were put upon this earth.
Tests don’t see your magic,
How you make others smile,
Tests don’t time how quickly,
You can run a mile.
Tests don’t hear your laughter,
Or see you’ve come this far,
Tests are just a tiny glimpse
Of who you really are.
So sitting at your table,
With a pencil and your test,
Remember tests aren’t who you are,
Remember you’re the best!
Principal: Máire Costello