Document Type


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Elementary Education

Publication Details

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, vol. 26. © The Author(s) 2022.


This article investigates the position of environmental education in the primary school curriculum over the past 150 years in the Republic of Ireland. The extent of how wider social, political, and cultural developments influence the way in which teachers and learners experience environmental education can be seen through the curricular changes. To achieve this, the five primary school curricula from 1872 to the present day were reviewed with respect to the amount of environmental education included in them. This review demonstrates a dramatic change in socio-environmental relations in contemporary Irish society during the 19th and 20th centuries, as reflected through primary school curricula. Environmental education is included, in some form, in all five Irish primary curricula over the 150-year period studied, though it does appear on the margins of some curricula as a subject, or part of a subject, that can be taught at the discretion of the teacher. Such a peripheral situation of environmental education is not unique to Ireland’s curricula, and this investigation provides a greater understanding of the broader influences on the status of environmental education overall in Irish education.