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Gaelscoileanna Teo. welcomes invitation to dialogue on early Total Immersion

November 17, 2008

 Friday, November 14th, 2008 – 1300 Hrs




Gaelscoileanna Teoranta has welcomed the supportive comments of Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keefe on the question of early total immersion in Irish language teaching.


Speaking at the annual Gaelscoileanna Conference in Bettystown Co. Meath this morning Minister O’Keefe said "I consider immersion education to be a really good system for promoting and maintaining the Irish Language, and I look forward to meeting with Gaelscoileanna Teoranta for a wide discussion on the Department’s curriculum policy."


"Evidence from around the world and in Ireland strongly indicates that early total immersion is extremely successful as a model of education for children of varying heritage languages," said Uachtarán Gaelscoileanna Teoranta, Mícheál Ó Broin.  "95 per cent of children entering Gaelscoileanna do so from an English or other language speaking background.  We do not impose language as a barrier to be overcome but as a bond between children who can better communicate across a range of voices and accents."


"The Minister’s willingness to listen and review the department policy on early total immersion is a welcome move.  We simply cannot afford to let go a model which is applauded throughout the world."




For further information or to arrange an interview with Mícheál Ó Broin, please contact:


Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on (086) 3851955  


Strategic Plan Sets Focus On Establishing New Schools

November 17, 2008


Friday, November 14th, 2008 – 1100 Hrs




Gaelscoileanna Teoranta has today published its ‘Strategic Plan 2008-2011′.  The plan, supported by Foras na Gaeilge was launched at the organisation’s annual education conference and AGM in Bettystown County Meath.


The Strategic Plan provides a roadmap towards the planned establishment of more than 20 national and 10 secondary Irish medium schools by 2013.  It also sets out a range of measures to support the short and long term success of the existing 140 Irish language national schools and 39 post primary schools throughout the Republic of Ireland outside of the Gaeltacht areas. The third element of the plan proposes ways in which the existing schools can reach out to their broader local community in fostering Irish language and culture.

"The growth of Irish medium education is testament to the demand and support of dedicated individuals within communities," said Uachtarán Gaelscoileanna, Micheál Ó Broin.  "The plan published today sets out the objectives which the Gaelscoil community as a whole needs to meet in order to sustain and develop the enthusiasm which has been the bedrock of our schools."


"The education sector faces challenges as does every other part of society.  We are representing the future of those children who do not have a direct voice.  In so doing we must be clear about what we need to do the job, and how we can best support the education of present and future generations."


"We have set out our vision as being to establish and maintain a high standard of Irish medium schooling throughout the country as well as developing and strengthening the Irish speaking community and culture."


"This strategic plan outlines the steps we need to take to ensure this vision is brought into clear focus."




For further information or to arrange an interview with Micheál Ó Broin


Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on (086) 3851955  


Economic Benefit of Bilingual Education Hailed at GAELSCOILEANNA Conference

November 13, 2008


Thursday, November 13th, 2008 – 1400 Hrs



Keynote address highlights importance of language education


The benefits of a strong bilingual approach to education should be given greater prominence within the Irish education system.  This is the central theme of the keynote address which will be delivered to the annual Education Conference and AGM of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta in Bettystown, Co Meath tomorrow morning (Friday, November 14th) by Colin Baker, Professor of Education and Pro Vice Chancellor of Bangor University.


"There is evidence compiled for the World Bank that bilingual education is economically advantageous due to its creation of higher achievement, a more skilled workforce and less unemployment," said Professor Baker.  "Children who learn through bilingual education,  such as is provided to a high level through Irish medium education, have a better understanding of different cultures, show a greater propensity for learning additional languages later on, and benefit from the greater demand for multiple language skills in an increasingly global economy."


"There are issues involving the political and financial support which bilingual education demands but in the long term it is likely to provide greater cost efficiency, for example as achievement levels are raised.  This should be of significant interest within Ireland especially given the report earlier this week that the country finished last in a European survey of OECD nations in terms of the ability of its citizens to hold a conversation in another language."


"Professor Baker is one of the world’s leading authorities on bilingual education", said Uachtarán Gaelscoileanna Teoranta, Micheál Ó Broin.  "He will outline how other countries are approaching bilingual education issues in 2008 and how the practice of early total immersion is undisputed as very successful.  His experience will doubtless further strengthen our resolve to fight for the right to continue early total immersion as an option in our schools."


 The conference, the theme of which is ‘Fostering an Irish Language Community’, will also include presentations on:


  • cultivating an Irish speaking community outside of the classroom


  • the importance of reaching out to different cultures and presenting bilingual education as a benchmark for inter-culturalism


  • the approach to special needs teaching at both primary and post-primary levels


Gaelscoileanna Teoranta will also publish its Strategic Plan for the next three years, part of a programme which anticipates the establishment of more than 20 new primary and 10 new secondary Irish medium schools over the next five years.


The conference will be officially opened by Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe.


GAELSCOILEANNA TEORANTA is the co-ordinating body for schools that teach through Irish.  It helps parents and local groups set up new schools and supports the established Irish-medium schools.




For further information or to arrange an interview with Professor Colin Baker or Micheál Ó Broin, please contact


Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on (086) 3851955, rob@hmpr.ie




Gaelscoileanna Teo. Ready To Listen To Minister And Plan For The Future

November 12, 2008


Minister O’Keeffe to address Annual Conference of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. on Friday


Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe will address the annual education conference and AGM of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. in Bettystown this Friday, November 14th 2008. 


He is expected to cover areas including the effect of budget cuts, the ongoing dispute over the teaching of Irish through total early immersion and the question marks thrown up recently over new school recognition.


"We are pleased that the Minister has agreed to open our conference and heartened by his willingness to engage in dialogue with those who represent those most affected by decisions taken within his department over the past twelve months", said GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. President, Mícheál Ó Broin.


"While the gaelscoileanna movement has gone from strength to strength in the past twelve months, there have been difficult times as well.  Parents and teachers are concerned particularly by the cuts in education spending, the lack of progress on research into the benefits of total early immersion education and the difficulties caused by a premature announcement on the recognition of new schools."


"We will of course provide a hospitable welcome to the Minister but we will also leave him clear in our view that the cuts in education announced in the budget are an inexplicable and short sighted move that we, together with all education partners, are continuing to urge the government to reconsider."


"Over the past years we have struggled for every small victory in reducing class sizes.  This is crucial to the effective education of a child and is a barometer of just how seriously a society values the education of its next generation.  Now we risk having all those gains swept away.  We already have one of the worst pupil teacher ratios in Europe.  Government has long claimed to recognise this as unacceptable but has now acted to make a bad situation worse."


"We are very concerned about the Minister’s announcement on school recognition and the implications for the founding committees that are working diligently towards opening in 2009.   It is a basic parental right to choose the kind of education their children should have and it is no accident that every gaelscoil that has opened since the foundation of the state remains open and popular today.  Schools that grow from within a committed community, and which operate wholly within the national curriculum must be supported.  We look forward to hearing directly from the Minister what measures are being taken to ensure the future of these new schools. "


The conference, the theme of which is ‘Fostering an Irish Language Community’, will include presentations on:


  • cultivating an Irish speaking community outside of the classroom


  • the importance of reaching out to different cultures and presenting bilingual education as a benchmark for inter-culturalism


  • the approach to special needs teaching at both primary and post-primary levels


The keynote address will be on ‘Advantages in Bilingualism and International best practice models’, given by Colin Baker, Professor of Education and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University.


"Professor Baker is one of the world’s leading authorities on bilingual education", added Ó Broin.  "He will outline how other countries have approached the issue and how the practice of total early immersion supported within Ireland is held up as a model of best practice.  His experience will doubtless further strengthen our resolve to fight for the right to continue total early immersion as an option in our schools, and to oppose department plans to disallow it in our schools."


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. will also publish its Strategic Plan for the next three years, part of a programme which anticipates the establishment of 26 new primary and 10 new secondary Irish medium schools over the next five years.


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. is the co-ordinating body for schools that teach through Irish.  It helps parents and local groups set up new schools and supports the established Irish-medium schools.




Media wishing to attend the conference at the Bettystown Court Hotel, Bettystown Co. Meath on Friday 14th November or who would like further information should contact:

Mícheál Ó Broin, Uachtarán GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., 087-9467700

Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on 086 3851955  


Education Budget is an Attack on Children

October 28, 2008

National Alliance for Primary Education

10 Primary Education Partners Combine to Demand Change

Partners Call for Massive Support for Dáil Protest

Press Release Issued Tuesday October 28th at a

Joint Press Conference in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin

In a joint statement, the main partners in primary education have condemned the cuts in the Education Budget as a full-fronted attack on children and young people, and as intensely damaging to Ireland’s future. The partners have demanded that the 32 cuts in the Education Budget – 16 of them a direct attack on primary education – be withdrawn, and that the Minister should instead enter into a dialogue with all the Education Partners about where savings and efficiencies can be made. They have indicated that they are open to such a dialogue, aimed at protecting the interests of children and the future.


Attack on Children

The Education Partners have made it clear that the cuts are an ‘attack on children’, especially as they apply to primary education, and will have the following consequences – all of which are in breach of the Government’s own commitment, and all of which further undermine the constitutional right of every child in Ireland to a decent primary education:

1.      They will drive up average class size to unacceptable levels, with inevitable consequences for the quality of education. Contrary to impressions being given, the number of teaching jobs lost will be in excess of 1,000 at the primary level alone, with many of these jobs cuts impacting on the most disadvantaged children. This situation will be further exacerbated by the removal of substitution cover for uncertified sick leave;

2.      The financial shortfall will make schools far more difficult to run and manage. Many schools, already very hard-pressed, will buckle under the strain, as the totally inadequate Capitation grant increase is swallowed up by inflation. The funding crisis now facing schools will place intolerable burdens on parents, teachers, Principals and Boards of Management.

3.      The withdrawal of key supports and services will have devastating consequences for children already suffering from disadvantage. Some of the particularly miserly cuts that affect children at the margins are socially irresponsible.

The organisations that have come together to make this demand are:

·         An Foras Pátrúnachta

·         Catholic Primary School Management Association

·         Church of Ireland Board of Education

·         Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta Teo.

·         Educate Together


·         Irish National Teachers’ Organisation

·         Irish Primary Principals’ Network

·         National Association of Management Bodies in Special Education

·         National Parents’ Council – Primary

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Ardfheidhmeannach, GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., said, "The education of our young is an obligation, not a luxury to be sacrificed in a rush to cut costs. The proposed cuts will damage us for a generation and cannot be allowed.”

Donall Ó Conaill, Stiúrthóir, Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge Teo, said, "Surely the approach of the Government to the current financial crisis could have focused on other ways of saving money besides the ill-advised decision to row back on the achievements of recent years in Education – a return to the bad days."

Dúirt Treasa Ní Mhainín, ESG Teo, "is masla an buiséad do pháistí agus múinteoirí agus is léir nach bhfuil púinn luach á chur ag an Rialtas seo ar thodhchaí an oideachais."

Eileen Flynn, General Secretary, CPSMA said, “The children of today are the adults of tomorrow. Cuts as announced effect every child in every class now.  Targeting the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, the newcomer guarantees greater costs to the taxpayer into the future. How can management deliver on its statutory function under the Education Act in a safe environment in the face of such lack of understanding of the impact of the education cuts on all concerned?”

Paul Rowe of Educate Together also said, “We are in favour of increasing efficiency but these cuts will prove counterproductive and costly. Balancing the State’s books at the expense of children is itself deeply offensive but the deliberate targeting of the most vulnerable children, is shameful and immoral.”

Declan Kelleher, President of the INTO, said, "The devastating proposal to increase class sizes, to what will be the largest in the EU, must be resisted by all involved in education for the sake of the pupils in our care. The range and scale of the proposed cuts in frontline services and funding shows a complete lack of understanding as to how Irish classrooms and schools operate today."

Sean Cottrell, Director of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network, said, “If a colonial Government imposed this budget on us, we would describe it as an act of national sabotage by means of deliberately undermining our education system.”

Philip Mudge, Vice-Chair of the National Parents Council – Primary, said “Parents are already fundraising and paying directly for the day to day running of the school and being asked to pay for curricular activities such as arts sports and music.  If the proposed budget cuts are brought in it will be the most vulnerable children in the most marginalised communities who will suffer most.  We must not allow our children to be targeted in this way.


Individually, each organisation in the National Alliance will be mounting their own campaigns to secure the removal of these damaging and unacceptable cuts, and to put a meaningful dialogue in place to plan a more progressive approach. The members of the Alliance partners will support each other’s campaigns, and will continue to act collectively in the interests of children and young people.  

In particular, the Alliance is calling for the maximum support to be given to the rally and protest outside Dáil Éireann tomorrow, Wednesday October 29th, at 6.30pm.


Joint Budget Statement 2009: Primary Management Partners

October 24, 2008



 1.    Introduction                                                                                                                 2

Primary schools are already extraordinarily efficient                                                 2

The Budget cuts are counter productive, short sighted and costly                               2

2.    Funding for Primary Schools                                                                                         2

3.    The  Cuts are deeply discriminatory and unfair                                                               2

Language Teachers / Traveller Supports                                                                     2

Book Grants                                                                                                                2

Class Size                                                                                                                    2

4.    Uncertified Sick Leave                                                                                                 2

5.    Abolition of the Early Retirement Scheme                                                                     2

6.    Deferral of the Education for People with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN)             2

7.    Conclusion                                                                                                                   2



This is a joint statement issued by the following management bodies in primary education


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin

Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge, Dónall Ó Conaill

Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, Eileen Flynn

Church of Ireland Board of Education, Canon John McCullagh

Educate Together, Paul Rowe

Islamic Board of Education, Shahzad Ahmed

National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education, Antoinette Buggle

1.                  Introduction

As the representatives of the 21,000 volunteers upon whom the management of our primary school system depends and who have the statutory duty to manage the nation’s primary schools, we call on the government to immediately reconsider the range cuts to front education services that it announced in Budget 2009.

In making this call,  we would like to point out that we have no personal or financial interest in the measures that we propose. We do not seek to increase our salaries or improve our working conditions. As volunteers, we do so purely on the behalf of hundreds of thousands of pupils in national schools, their future and the future of our society.

The measures announced in the Budget constitute a major cut in resources to primary education. Primary Management Bodies are coming together to seriously question the government’s logic in imposing these cutbacks at a time when the performance of our education system is universally recognised as the key to our future economic and social prosperity.

If we are to safeguard the future of our children and plan for the kind of economy that Ireland wishes to be across future generations, then we need to be spending more to relieve current serious shortfalls in education provision.

It is particularly regrettable that the government is cutting front line services to children when these services are already at an unacceptably low base and when schools are facing severe financial difficulties.

Primary schools are already extraordinarily efficient

Irish primary schools are managed by volunteers at a tiny cost to the State. Uniquely in the Irish public service, the State pays almost nothing for the administration of an entire system encompassing 3,250 schools and delivering services to 400,000 children. There is no ‘fat’ to cut in an already under-funded system and in fact, the primary school system stands out as by far the most efficient service delivery system in the entire Irish public service.

Primary schools have been chronically under-funded since the foundation of the State. As a result of their strategic importance for the future of the country, it is a national priority that they should be protected in the current realignment of State expenditure.

The Budget cuts are counter productive, short sighted and costly

Our education system is the key to future tax revenues. It is also a key instrument to reduce State costs in the coming years. Money spent now on the education of young children avoids costly interventions later in the system. The 4 year old children in our schools today will be the critical tax payers in our society in 20 years time. Children only get one chance at primary education and extensive research shows that investment at primary stage is key to the performance of the system as a whole.

For all these reasons, it is counter-productive and wrong to target the education of children when seeking to balance the government books.

In addition, as the employers of all staff in schools, we have a duty of care to our employees. We believe that the measures announced will present significant health and safety issues for them and the children in their care.


       The delivery of education to all children will be directly damaged by these measures.

       Already seriously over-burdened Principals will be presented with an enormous increase in their workload

       The change in substitution regulations will cause chaos in schools on a weekly basis

       School boards will not be able to fulfil their statutory obligations to parents and children to deliver the national curriculum.

       The removal of a range of supports for vulnerable children will mean that un-addressed  educational needs will require greater costs in the future.

       The duty of care of boards of management to employees and children is greatly compromised by the accumulative effect of these measures

       The measures will result in short, medium and long-term additional costs to the taxpayer

2.                  Funding for Primary Schools

Increases in inflation, VAT and utility charges now far outweighing the increases in capitation allowances announced in the budget.

These increases fail to address the deep underfunding of schools. As we informed the Dail earlier this year and unsuccessfully sought to discuss with the Taoiseach, Finance Minister and Minister for Education and Science at that time, primary schools require a doubling of the capitation grant or an increase of €175 per child merely to bring primary funding into line with that afforded to second level students.

The €26 increase announced in the budget will be be quickly absorbed by the following increases in charges:

Utility                                                                                increase                  

Heating Oil:                                                                             26.5%                  

Gas Increase (interim)                                                                20%

ESB Increase (interim)                                                            17.5%

Water Charges                                                              3.50 per child


In addition, schools now must pay recycling charges, increased VAT across a wide range of payments (Schools cannot pass on VAT or claim it back) and the effects of general inflation.

Many schools now are facing major financial difficulties. This is particularly effecting schools in new housing estates and in disadvantaged areas.                   

3.                  The  Cuts are deeply discriminatory and unfair

Language Teachers / Traveller Supports

The re-imposition of the cap on the allocation of language support teachers and supports for traveller children is discriminatory and morally unsustainable. It dilutes scarce and precious supports to schools that are working in areas of greatest need. It singles out the most vulnerable and least politically vocal for attack. As such it is immoral and deeply offensive to those managing schools. It will reduce educational outcomes for such children, reduce their eventual productivity as citizens and increase the costs to the State of expensive later interventions. We challenge the logic of such an approach.

Schools with high levels of children with these needs will receive a ‘double whammie” with the reduction of the staffing schedule. Children with such needs are now going to be doubly disadvantaged because they will have no support in even more crowded classrooms. This will also impact on the educational experience of all in the class and significantly add to the burden on the class teacher.

Book Grants

The removal of this grant is a serious miscalculation. There are disadvantaged children in all schools.  Departments reports show that one out of 10 families have less than 10 books at home. Further reports demonstrate that we have major issue with literacy which is a significant cost to our society. The cuts will lead to an increase in illiteracy. How can the reading skills  be addressed if children do not have books?

Class Size

The announcement of a claw back of staffing schedules will seriously impact on the daily educational experience of children. This is counter productive. Minister O’Dea’s statement on Questions and Answers this week that it is “only one more in a class” is misleading and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the reality of schools.

Our calculations indicate that the stated loss of 200 teachers in primary is a gross underestimation. A more accurate figure is 1,000 teachers to be taken out of the system. This represents a massive reduction in front-line teaching. It is inescapable that this will result in reduced in learning outcomes for children right across the country.

Our classrooms are already overcrowded, these measures will make them the largest in the OECD. As those who manage schools, we know that such overcrowding has a direct impact on educational outcomes.

The current primary curriculum with its emphasis on group work, differentiation to suit different learning styles and abilities cannot be delivered in classes of more than 30. The measures will result in many classes larger than this.

In particular, this will frustrate the proper and justified expectations of parents that their children will be educated with the full benefit of this curriculum.

It will dramatically impact on the ability of the system to address learning difficulties and will have a direct effect on future literacy levels, levels of maths, science and other other subject competencies that we all accept are critical objectives for the future of our society.

We would like to seriously question what will be the actual effect of this reduction. The teachers who will become ‘over quota’ will be assigned to the relevant redeployment panel. They will then have to be re-absorbed into the system and will remain on the payroll. Teachers exiting colleges will also be unable to secure positions. What exactly will be the cost savings for this grossly disruptive and negative measure?

The compound effect of all these discriminatory cuts will multiply the hurt to all pupils and the loss of morale of the staff for whom we are responsible.

4.                  Uncertified Sick Leave

The removal of substitution cover for uncertified sick absences by teachers is a profoundly flawed measure which will cause chaos in schools and result in additional costs to the State:

This measure will:

       Result in massive disruption of school classrooms, with classes reassigned at short notice                  

       Penalise parents and children

       Result in higher substitution costs as teachers will be encouraged to stay out for longer certified periods.

       Contradict contemporary management research, which indicates that absenteeism where it exists, is directly connected to environmental factors or low staff morale.

       Force Boards of management (and parents) to pay certain substitution costs.

       Result in increased sickness in staff and longer absences.

       Have a devastating effect on smaller schools where teachers may have to stop teaching to supervise large groups of children.

5.                  Abolition of the Early Retirement Scheme

We are particular concerned about the suspension of the Early Retirement Scheme. This has proved to be an effective mechanism for management to provide an honourable exit to teachers who feel that they can no longer cope with the demands of a modern classroom. We have found this mechanism to be very helpful and strongly disagree with its removal.

6.                  Deferral of the Education for People with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN)

The announcement of the deferral of this Act indicates the disregard that this government has towards the education of children with special needs. The importance of the intersection of this legislation with that of the Disability Act appears to have been ignored. Schools will be left without the protection of this legislation when children present with needs defined under the Disability Act. It is regrettable that the first response of the government in a financial crisis is to deny the rights of those most vulnerable.

7.                  Conclusion

The budget measures are short-sighted. As experienced managers of schools, we are convinced that these measure will result in additional costs to the public purse. These measures are counter productive; appear to lack serious understanding of the realities of schools and will hurt the educational outcomes of hundreds of thousands of children.

This is clearly against the national interest and the measures should be withdrawn.

Priority Investment Essential in Primary Education – Joint Statement from the Management Bodies in Irish Primary Education

September 30, 2008

Catholic Primary Schools Management Association,
Church of Ireland Board of Education,
Educate Together,
Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge,
Islamic Board of Education,
National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education

Benefits will be felt across all society and future generations

The representatives of all management bodies responsible for the provision of primary
education in Ireland have come together to make the following statement:

“We call upon the government to give urgent priority to, and deliver substantially increased
funding for primary education in the budget to be announced on October 14th.

“Immediate action is critical not only for the maintenance of existing levels of service to
children and to address long standing funding shortfalls but also because of the current
rapid increase in student numbers.

“The provision of primary education is at the heart of how society judges the actions of
our government and political representatives. The consequences of failing to invest in the
education of the current generation of Irish children will be felt not only today but for many
decades to come and decisions made in government buildings over the next two weeks
will reverberate longer in education than in any other area of spending.

“Our primary schools are under-funded, under resourced and under staffed. Primary
schools this year are being forced to depend on an ever increasing burden of fund-raising
in order to meet basic costs. Most primary schools do not have the resources necessary
to deliver modern ICT or sports programmes. There is continued concern over special
needs provision and our schools continue to operate some of the largest classes in the
OECD. These issues are having a direct and serious effect on the levels of education being
delivered to children.

“It is urgent and necessary that this neglect is corrected, starting October 14th.

“The overwhelming consensus of economic and political commentators assert that the
future of our society will be that of a “knowledge” or “thinking” economy. It is impossible
to conceive of such a future without properly resourced schools.

“It is simply reckless to fail to invest in our education system at this time. Our primary
schools form the foundation upon which the performance of entire system is based and
unless we dramatically increase investment in primary education, Ireland will suffer both
economically, socially and culturally.

“The primary years of a pupils school life are absolutely vital. Children only grow once.
They only have one chance at their primary years. If they are educated well at this stage, it
sets them up for their whole life. As a result, it is essential that we exert our best
educational efforts during this phase of a person’s life. This means our best resources, our
best school buildings, our best teaching skills, our best classrooms. It is simply not
acceptable that we as a society continue to be prepared to accept the Cinderella status of
primary education when we all understand its strategic importance for the future.

“This is a basic question of government priorities, of prudent planning for the future and is
particularly important when there are difficulties with the public finances.

“Irish primary schools have been chronically underfunded by all governments since the
foundation of the State. Governments have neglected the primary system at the best of
times and worst of times. It is now imperative that this neglect is corrected. To fail to do so
is straightforward political irresponsibility.

“Primary schools form children’s basic attitudes and competencies. Lack of resources at
the primary level result in poor levels of educational attainment that can only be addressed
by costly and difficult interventions further up the system.

“It is essential that education is not regarded as a cost to the State coffers, but as the key
revenue generator and cost reducer for future governments.

“Money spent hiring an additional professional in a disadvantaged area is more than
justified if as a result two additional children become productive adults. The obvious corelation of crime statistics to those who have poor educational attainments means that
huge costs to the State in running prisons could be reduced by better resourced schools.

“There is a mounting level of evidence for the need for our schools to promote active lifestyles to prevent expensive health issues in the next generation. How can this be done
when so many of our primary schools have no sports halls or proper sports facilities?

“Schools with over crowded classrooms, without computers or ICT support cannot deliver
the skills that the current generation need to compete in the modern world. Refusing to
invest now will only build up greater costs tomorrow. This is neither a rational nor a wise

“It is for this reason that we call for a sustained increase in the funding for primary
schools in the current budget.

“We would like to state that – as the representatives of the 21,000 volunteers upon whom
the management of our primary school system depends – we have no personal or financial
interest in making this call. We do not seek to increase our salaries or improve our working
conditions. We do so purely on the behalf of hundreds of thousands of pupils in our
national schools, their future and the future of our society.”

Antoinette Buggle
National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin

Dónall Ó Conaill  General Secretary
Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge 

Mgn. Dan O’Connor
General Secretary
Catholic Primary Schools Management Association

Canon John McCullagh 
Church of Ireland Board of Education 

Paul Rowe
Chief Executive The key areas of neglect and under-funding are:
Educate Together General Funds

Shahzad Ahmed
Islamic Board of Education


The key areas of neglect and under-funding are:
General Funds

The primary capitation grant remains approximately half that paid to second level schools. Prices of utilities and resources make no distinction for the age of children and there is simply no justification for this discrepancy. Boards of management of our schools are reporting serious financial shortfalls as costs of materials, light, heat, water, phone and other necessities escalate. The education of children is being directly affected by these deficits as more and more time has to be devoted to fund-raising rather than school centred work.

Schools are increasingly being forced to economise on curriculum resources. There are often

simply no funds at all for vital ICT equipment. We are sliding backwards at a time when we
need to be making rapid forward progress. How will we be able to justify this state of affairs
to the children we are failing today as they grow to adulthood?

These levels of fund-raising are demoralising both staff and volunteers. They are also socially divisive. Schools in well-off areas are better able to raise the required sums. Schools in areas where families have low levels of disposable income due to unemployment or crippling mortgages are becoming seriously disadvantaged. We profess to provide universal
education but will that be the case in years to come if we do not act now?

If children are not exposed to modern ICT programmes they are not being prepared for a
“knowledge economy”. By failing to invest in ICT this year the government will dramatically
reduce its revenues in 20 years’ time, and all talk of such a “knowledge’ economy” will be
seen as hollow rhetoric.

Schools without sports halls and equipment cannot properly develop the active life-styles that will be key to this generation’s future health. This government is simply storing up huge future costs in health by not acting on this issue now.

Funding shortfalls are affecting schools in the following main areas:

Light, heat and water; telephone and data communications; cleaning, secretarial and care–
taking; rents, insurance and accountancy; curriculum materials including ICT, sports and
music equipment; books and staff development and substitution.

These shortfalls can be decisively addressed by an immediate doubling of the primary
capitation grant from its current level of €178 to €356.

This should be accompanied by the immediate introduction of a single school payment
system in which school managers should be able to fill in one multi-part form once per year
and receive one payment. This will eliminate the vast array of complicated individual grants
and introduce significant efficiencies.

Speaking in relation to these issues, Mgn. Dan O’Connor, representing the Catholic
Primary Schools Management Association
, draws attention to the severe social
divisiveness of the de facto cuts that are being imposed on the primary system. Essentially
there are three types of school – wealthy where shortfalls can be made up by fund-raising, a
second group where funds are limited and the schools depend on the parish and a third type where no fund-raising at all is possible- such schools depend on the diocese and the
religious congregations just to keep the school going. The reality is that Inner city schools are constantly being bailed out and religious trustees pay insurance for them.

Figures show that all Catholic schools depend on parish and trustees for capital expenditure.

Referring to the impact of these factors on gaelscoileanna, Dónall Ó Conaill, Rúnai, Foras
Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge
, states:

“The inadequate funding impacts very seriously on gaelscoileanna. The low level of the
capitation grant places an undue burden on Boards of Management who are
overburdened with meeting their financial commitments, resulting in other necessary
aspects of their responsibilities often being postponed. This is the greatest deficiency
in the operation of our schools which has knock-on effects on the responsibilities and
working of the Boards of Management and schools. Boards of Management are
made up of committed and capable people entrusted with the management of our
schools. A doubling of the capitation grant would remove a great burden from board
members and allow more time and resources to be made available for other important
aspects of the Management of our schools. The voluntary contribution to the work of
Boards of Management is under valued and the provision of proper funding would be
a positive expression by the Government of the value they place on their voluntary
contribution to Education which ultimately saves the Government a lot of money.”

Reiterating this point, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Ardfheidhmeannach, GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., says:
“The low level of capitation grant affects every child and every school in the country.
As a country we profess pride in our heritage of learning but we completely fail to back
this up with spending to allow for the basic provision of equipment, facilities and
services. The state has an obligation to provide education for all the nation’s children.
If the capitation grant is not raised to at least double the current figure in the budget,
then it will be failing in that obligation.”

Speaking on behalf of the Special Schools, Antoinette Buggle, General Secretary of the
National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education
“The shortfall in the Capitation Grant to Special Schools is putting increased pressure
on Boards of Management to make appropriate provision for children in their care
including children with Sever Behavioural Difficulties and complex health issues. The
impact of the large number of children aged 12 yrs. plus leaving mainstream schools
who are seeking admission to special schools has put further strain on already over
stretched funds. Special units in mainstream schools are experiencing the same

Speaking on behalf of the Educate Together Schools, Paul Rowe, CEO of Educate
“This is a critical juncture for Irish education. We must throw off the attitudes of the last
century and have the confidence to invest in our future. Social and economic
prosperity will not come without investment. The top priorities for this government
should be the doubling of the primary capitation grant, the reform of the grant system
and sustained and increasing investment in our primary schools.”

School Buildings

The fast track programme this summer demonstrated that high-quality permanent buildings
could be delivered efficiently for schools. This should lead the way to the elimination of the
chronic large scale waste of taxpayers money on inefficient temporary accommodation. It
should also see the provision of proper sports halls for all primary schools. In addition, this
approach should be used to provide the large number of new school buildings that are
necessary in the next two years.

Irrespective of the slowdown in inward population flows, Ireland has a rapidly increasing
population of school-going children. A significant surge in pupil numbers is taking place and
will peak in 2010 and 2011. This will require approximately 3,700 additional classrooms and
many new schools. The State must ensure that there is sufficient funding to provide this
additional accommodation whilst addressing the urgent needs of existing schools in
inadequate buildings.

It must act to change planning legislation to ensure that sites for schools are transferred as a condition of planning permission for housing estates and do so in such a way to minimise the costs to the taxpayer.
Today’s slowdown in the construction industry should mean that the State can obtain best
value for such capital projects. To fail to take advantage of this situation is to fail the taxpayer as well as the children in schools.

Special Schools
Special schools are primary schools where pupils remain until they are 18 years of age. In
recent years, the population of special schools has changed and now includes children with
severe behavioural difficulties and complex health issues. Behavioural difficulties can mean
school property is destroyed and has to be replaced. An increasing number of children aged
12 years plus who have attended mainstream schools are seeking admission to special
schools. Complex health issues mean there is a need for additional cleaning services, barrier
supplies for staff, waste disposal, defibrillator training, specialised training for special needs
assistants and bus escorts, a high level of water usage and higher heating costs.

Special schools also have to bear the cost of a bus and its running costs. A bus is essential
to a special school as they help prepare the students for adulthood. The cost of running a
bus for a year in small special school was €20,000.

Most special school were set up by parents and friends and, consequently, do not have the
backing of a parish. The children are brought to the school from a wide geographic spread
and the difficulty in raising funds is increased in such cases.

In one school three quarters of the school consists of prefabs. This is not unusual as children with Sever/Profound Learning Disabilities are now attending special schools set up for children with Moderate Learning Disabilities. How can prefabs be heated sufficiently to keep children warm who are on ventilators and on oxygen? Prefabs waste money in heating and maintenance costs. That particular school has three nurses who work full time and while it does not pay the salaries, the materials needed to peg feed, to resuscitate and do what
nurses do with physically challenged children must be funded.


Ireland lags behind OECD countries in the percentage of its wealth that is devoted to
education. The best performing economies and the best performing education systems
invest up to 8% of Gross Domestic Product on education (Finland). They have done so in all
phases of the economic cycle – in downturns and upturns – in bear markets and bull markets.
The average investment in education of all the OECD countries is 6.5% . Ireland still only
manages 4.5%.

If Ireland is to prosper in a globalised world economy, it must do so on the basis of an
economy of innovation, creativity and pathfinding enterprise. Such an economy can only be
based of a highly efficient, well-resourced education system. Now is the time to make the
investment necessary to bring this about and to end a century of neglect and lack of
investment in primary education.

Gaelscoileanna Teo. Anger at Ministers Statement on School Recognition

September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11th, 2008


Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has been sharply criticised by GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., the organisation representing 140 Irish language primary schools, for comments he has made today concerning the recognition of future schools that choose to adopt the Irish language ethos.

"The comments attributed to the Minister fly in the face of parents constitutional right to education for their children, and of the state’s obligation to protect and nurture the Irish language," said Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.

"He seems to dismiss parental choice as akin to wanting ‘a school at every crossroads’, which shows a surprising lack of regard for the community based nature of Irish society."

"The Department has recognised the need for value for money through the recent modular schools building programme.  We support this approach.  It needs however, to operate alongside an equal appreciation of the value of education and the Minister appears to have lost sight of this.""Gaelscoileanna and other patron based schools can seek initial recognition with 17 children and full recognition after three years so long as you have 51 pupils.  This recognises how schools grow as a part of their community.  The numbers are pitched at a level of sustainability and we would point out to the Minister that not a single Gaelscoil has ever closed due to falling numbers.

"Only this week the OECD has shown that state spending on education is among the lowest in Europe.  Despite this relative lack of state support our standards of education remain among the highest in the world.  Education at its best is borne of the community and supported through the willingness of parents to play a part in management, philosophy and, regrettably, funding."

"This support is nurtured through the patron system and it is scandalous that this most effective method of shaping our children’s futures should be questioned on flawed economic grounds in a poorly judged attempt to cover up the State’s record over decades of poor planning and lack of foresight. Furthermore it contradicts the Government’s own commitment to support and nurture Irish-medium education, as outlined in their visionary plan, 2028 for the Irish language, and places further constraints on the system and on voluntary groups in the community. "

"We hope this is an exercise in ‘kite flying’ which will be quickly corrected but will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to clarify his comments anyway."


Further Information:

Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin                                  Rob Hartnett

Chief Executive – GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.     Director – Hartnett McClure PR

01 4773155 or 086 8050335                        01 6401821 or 086 3851955


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. Welcomes the Opening of New Irish-Medium Schools September 2008

September 1, 2008

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. welcomes the opening of four Irish-medium Primary schools in September 2008 who will be opening their doors for the first time this year.

The Irish-medium Primary schools are as follows:

  1. Gaelscoil na Lorgan, Lurgan, Co Monaghan,
  2. Gaelscoil Éadan Doire, Edenderry, Co Offaly,
  3. Gaelscoil na gCloch Liatha, Greystones, Co Wicklow, and
  4. Gaelscoil Ros Eo, Rush, Co Dublin.

We extend our welcome also to a new Irish-medium school in Northern Ireland, opening with the help and support of our Educational Partners in the North, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta. The school in question is Bunscoil Uí Chléirigh, Dungannon Co. Tyrone.

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, C.E.O. of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., is delighted to welcome this progressive growth which celebrates all that is achieved by the founding committees and the Irish-medium Education sector. She says, “Praise is due to the founding committees and the parents who have worked tirelessly and voluntarily on these school projects for many years to ensure provision of Irish-medium education for their children.”

She stated, however, that these schools will be operating from temporary accommodation for the next few years, as are nearly 50% of the total number of Primary Irish-medium schools in the country, including new and long established schools. However, she confirms that “GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. will continue its renewed campaign for Cóiríocht Chóir (Fair Accomodation) to improve the situation of Irish-speaking schools, through fair accommodation and sufficient resources in line with the high standards achieved by the Irish-medium education system”.

President of the organisation, Mícheál Ó Broin, wishes every success to the new schools, their principals and teachers as well as the pupils and their parents that are embarking on a new important era in their lives. To previously existing school communities he states, “On this proud occasion we wish every continued success to all Irish-medium schools that are re-opening their doors in preparation for a new school year as they continue their hard work in providing an excellent standard of education through the immersion education model.”

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. is the national co-ordinating body for schools teaching through the medium of Irish. It helps parents and local groups to set up new schools and supports the established all-Irish schools. There are 171 primary schools and 44 secondary schools outside the Gaeltacht (32 County) currently providing education through the medium of Irish.

Newsletter: Great Advertising Opportunity

July 17, 2008

The organisation is currently developing an electronic newsletter for the first time. The first issue will be out in September as part of a pilot scheme and it will be issued every quarter subsequently. The newsletter will be distributed to every Gaelscoil and Gaelcholáiste in the 32 counties(of which there are 232 schools altogether), to teachers on our database, educational bodies throughout Ireland, educators, politicians, Irish Language businesses and organisations throughout Ireland, and it will also be available on-line. The newsletter will be a useful and attractive resource to circulate widely news from our organisation, stories from schools, major news from the educational sector, information/reviews of events, and information about the Irish Language medium sector in general.

Great advertising opportunities exist in the newsletter at very reasonable rates. If you are interested in taking out an advertisement please contact Seán at sean@gaelscoileanna.ie for further information and rates. Seize the opportunity!

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