|dc.description.abstract||Research has demonstrated that play-based curricula have provided a meaningful context for children’s learning and are understood to promote long-lasting positive influences on future academic success (Justice & Pullen, 2003; Whitebread et al., 2017). Despite high expectations in relation to the introduction of Aistear into primary schools, teachers found it difficult to achieve curricular objectives through the play-based framework, it was discovered that some of the main perceived barriers to a play-based learning curriculum in Ireland are; lack of awareness and training, large class sizes, lack of resources and funding, and high pupil-to-teacher ratios (Gray & Ryan, 2016). In order to address such tensions, the Junior Infant programme is now being questioned and studied, examining if formal traditional primary school curricula are serving children well, and whether this type of pedagogy is suitable for learning and development in young children (Dunphy, 2007; Dunlop, 2014; Hayes, O’Flaherty, Kernan, 1997). Consequently, radical change to Junior Infant practice has been proposed by The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) (2016) recommend a revision of the Irish education system via the development a more integrated curriculum for three to six year olds, with the aim of greater supporting child learning and development in a more meaningful and purposeful way.
From the perspective of teachers and taking a qualitative approach, this study explores such contexts to gain fresh insights into early childhood eduction, to further develop policy and practice, working towards supporting appropriate child learning and development for children starting primary school in Ireland.||en