Primary school history is one of three subjects (along with geography and science) framed within the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) curriculum area. SESE has a strong focus on ‘environment’, which denotes the surroundings or external conditions with which an individual (human or other living organism) or community interacts. In this context, history focuses on how the activity of people has shaped human, built and cultural environments. The acquisition of knowledge, values and skills in a context of exploration and investigation is highlighted. The lives of people in the past, national and international history, local studies and the work of the historian are studied in a child-centred curriculum. The Junior Cycle History specification provides clear opportunities to progress the related learning that has taken place at primary level throughout the three years of junior cycle.
The Junior Cycle History specification aligns with key features of the Leaving Certificate History syllabus. The unifying strand seeks to develop an awareness of the discipline of history that informs students’ meaningful engagement with historical contexts and allows for progression to more detailed interrogation of the past in the 'Topics for Study' at senior cycle. This strand also helps students to acquire the skills and dispositions to engage in research and working with documents—both key features of senior cycle history.
The twin focus on Ireland and on Europe and the wider world at junior cycle aligns with the syllabus arrangement at Leaving Certificate level. The elements in the contextual strands at junior cycle are also similar in focus to the perspectives that shape content specification in the Leaving Certificate syllabus. The broad survey nature of the junior cycle experience is intended to provide an authentic foundation for progression to senior cycle history.