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Concerns raised over deficiencies at city Gaelscoil

June 26, 2010

Concerns have been raised by school inspectors about teaching and management at a Gaelscoil operating from a business park.

The whole school evaluation (WSE) report by Department of Education inspectors who visited Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers in Cork last November shows serious deficiencies in leadership and also found that no child protection policy was in place.
The 94-pupil school was set up in 1987 and was previously located in a GAA grounds and in rooms rented from a local secondary school, but is currently located in a business park on the Mallow Road on the city’s northern outskirts.

The inspectors found the school has had significant difficulties recruiting fully qualified teachers in recent years and all the current staff have been appointed in the last three years. The principal was on administrative leave during the inspection and the deputy principal resigned from his post last autumn, with substitute teachers being appointed for considerable periods over the past number of years.

The inspectors stated that the various changes have impacted negatively on the quality of teaching and learning.
“Significant difficulties are evident in the delivery of the curriculum. Challenges now exist for both the management and staff of the school to raise the standard of pupil achievement and to manage school activities in an effective manner,” says the report on the Department of Education website.

They wrote that the school lacks leadership and there was no in-school management structure. The board of management resigned three years ago but the dedication of the manager acting on behalf of the patron, Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley, was acknowledged by the inspectors.

But, their report states, the school has made very little progress in formulating curricular, administrative or statutory policies required by law. They highlighted shortcomings in the teaching of Irish at the Gaelscoil, the need to prioritise raising pupils literacy and numeracy skills and recommended a full review of provision for pupils with special educational needs.
“The manager’s efforts to solve the school’s difficulties are acknowledged. However, it is necessary to appoint a board of management to support him in this work,” the inspectors wrote.
Acting principal, Máiréad Uí Adhmaill, who was appointed just weeks before the inspectors’ visit, told the Irish Examiner that significant improvements have taken place since then.

“There is a full school management structure in place, staff have worked tremendously hard during the year, and we have put the child protection policy and code of conduct in place,” she said.
“We did recent tests in literacy and numeracy and they have shown significant improvements. We now have a weekly assembly to give awards for the best Irish speakers and had Seán Óg Ó hAilpín here to give out awards during Seachtain na Gaeilge,” she said.

A positive co-operative atmosphere was noted in the school by the inspectors, who also referred to strong parental support for the school and the courteousness of pupils and their interest in their work.
The inspectors said the school’s location is unsuitable, although discussions had been underway about procuring a more suitable site. They found its location in a public business park results in considerable difficulties ensuring pupil safety and, while efforts have been made, further action was needed to guarantee safety during all school activities.

The Irish Examiner – Niall Murray
26 Meitheamh 2010

Fís na Gaelscolaíochta Beo i nDoire

June 25, 2010

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Inspectors reveal poor level of Irish at Gaelscoil

June 25, 2010

An all-Irish primary school named after Peig Sayers has been criticised for the poor standard of Irish among its pupils.
Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers, on the Mallow Road in Cork, underwent an evaluation by inspectors from the Department of Education and Skills.

The inspectors found that pupils had “little understanding of basic writing skills, spelling patterns or punctuation rules.
“Presentation of written work in copybooks is poor,” the report on the 98-pupil school said.
The inspectors said it was necessary to develop basic writing skills, to expose pupils to a wider range of genres and to engage in the ongoing monitoring of children’s work.

But it wasn’t just in Irish that pupils were having problems. The inspectors also found significant difficulties in spelling and grammar in English in the senior classes.
The report called for a whole-school programme of grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as greater emphasis on handwriting.
Nor did the pupils have an acceptable level of achievement in mathematical skills. Many experienced difficulty in understanding basic concepts and solving fundamental problems.

The report also found that there was no school plan, as required by the department.
“The various curriculum documents on file have not been discussed on a whole-school basis and the teaching programme has not been agreed by staff,” it said.
“The planning process has not been developed appropriately. This weakness impacts significantly on curriculum implementation and on the standards of education.”

The report also found that the school “lacks leadership” and it noted that the current staff had all been appointed in the past three years.
It said the school had had to appoint substitute teachers for considerable periods of time.
The report said the acting principal had succeeded in creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere and that she worked conscientiously to fulfil her duties.

However, it also urged that an in-school management structure should be established.
It said poor organisational structures had prevented teachers from optimising resources, such as computers and library books, that had been provided recently.
Written progress reports were not provided to parents and no child-protection policy was available at the time of the inspection. School records were not being maintained as required by the department.
Although some teachers were conscientious in preparing their work, inspectors found that there were significant weaknesses in the planning for many other classes. Plans did not always specify appropriate learning targets for lessons.
The report also noted that the school is located in a business park, where there are considerable difficulties in ensuring the safety of pupils because of traffic.

Irish Independent – John Walshe Education Editor
25 Meitheamh 2010

Long wait over for local schools

June 23, 2010

A local Irish-speaking secondary school has finally been granted a new premises, after a gruelling ten-year campaign by parents and local representatives.

The long-running campaign has now finally born fruit, with confirmation that a new premises will be provided for Colaiste na Coiribe under the Department of Education’s Capital Programme for 2010.
Students at the school are currently forced to take classes in prefabs, due to chronic overcrowding. However, it has now been confirmed that it is to move from its current location to a new home in Knocknacarra by 2013.
The news has been welcomed by Senator Niall O Brolchain, who has worked with Deputy Noel Grealish and a number of local representatives to put an end to the almost ten-year wait for a new school.

“This project will be great for Galway City and great for my local area, where there is a huge deficit in local facilities. I will continue to work with all those involved in the project at a local and national level to ensure that everything goes according to plan,” he said.
There was also good news for Scoil Iognaid Secondary School, with the announcement that contracts for the extension and refurbishment of the school are to be drawn up this week. The plans are to be drawn up by the preferred bidder, which is believed to be a local construction company.

“A refurbishment will be carried out on 3,000 square metres in the existing school and a 2,400 square metre extension will also be added to the school,” said Deputy Frank Fahey, confirming the news.
“This project first went out to tender in 2006 and there was naturally a lot of disappointment when it went out to tender again, but I can confirm that this resulted in a saving of 30 per cent and, at times when the public finances are limited, this kind of prudent management of resources is vital.
“Value for money has been achieved in the project and now the school will soon have the much-needed works completed. Credit is due to the school principal, Bernie O’Connell, who has pursued the project over the last number of years.”

Galway Independent – Marie Madden
23 Meitheamh 2010

Gaelscoil Éadain Mhóir – Lá Spraoi

June 17, 2010

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Gaelscoil students come out on top

June 15, 2010

The Department of Education in Northern Ireland recently carried out research which shows that pupils in Irish-medium primary schools are achieving higher marks in Maths and English than pupils in English medium schools.

The research undertaken compared primary school pupils from families who had similar economic backgrounds.

These finding are very interesting in the wake of recent findings from school inspectors who criticised the standard of a number of Irish medium schools in Northern Ireland.

Dr Reamaí Mathers from the organisation Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, said the emphasis that was placed on the performance of Irish Medium schools when the results of the inspections came out was incredibly unfair, especially considering that pupils from the Irish-medium schools were performing at a higher standard than their peers in the two most important subject in the curriculum.

Mathers pointed out that these new findings support the research recently undertaken at Queens University in Belfast where it was discovered that children from Irish Medium schools have a better short term memory that pupils from English medium schools which was found to be due to their bilingualism.

Scoil Aonghusa – Chess Competition 2010

June 11, 2010

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First teacher appointed to new Gaelscoil Ráth Tó

June 10, 2010

The founding committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó said this week they are delighted with progress so far in setting up the school for the autumn.

This week alone, the school’s first teacher has been appointed and the school’s venue for the first year has also been finalised.

The new gaelscoil will be established in Ratoath this autumn despite not receiving recognition from the Department of Education. This has been accomplished with the support of a number of national Irish language organisations. A national campaign called ‘Aitheantas’ (Irish for ‘Recognition’) has now centred on getting the Ratoath school recognised, since no new gaelscoileanna have been given departmental recognition in the Republic since 2008, the founding committee said.

Speaking for the committee, Seán ó Buachalla said steady progress was being made in making the school a reality by the end of the summer. “We are very happy to welcome experienced teacher Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin on board as the first teacher in the school and we look forward to working with her to establish the best school possible for the children of Ratoath.

“Tricia has made clear her commitment to Irish language education and also to the challenge of establishing a new school and we are certain that she will help set the school up on a sound footing,” he said. “In addition to this positive news, we have finalised an agreement with Ratoath Community Centre to provide accommodation for the school for the academic year 2010-2011. “We are happy to be able to begin the school in such modern and comfortable surroundings and it will also help to give the school a position of prominence in the middle of the village, which should go a long way to raise awareness of the school’s existence,” he added. “We want to make it clear to the people of Ratoath that the school will be open for business and we give our thanks to all who have assisted us, especially to the parents and the Irish language organisations who are assisting us in numerous ways to established the school.”

Gaelscoil Ráth Tó will be opening on 30th August next. The school is still accepting registrations for 2010 and beyond. Contact gaelscoilrathto@gmail.com or phone (087) 332 8650 for further information.

Fundraising for the school continues and all donations and support will be gratefully received, as the school receives no Government funding and is completely reliant on voluntary contributions, the founding committee said.

Meath Chronicle
09 Meitheamh 2010

Irish Schools top at English

June 4, 2010

Irish language primary schools are outperforming English language schools not only in maths but in English, figures have revealed.

The Department of Education research indicate that children in Gaelic schools do better than children from similar economic backgrounds in English-medium schools. The news comes after several Irish schools were criticised by inspectors as being below standard.

The results were revealed in Key Stage Two assessments submitted each ear by all primary schools in Northern Ireland. Dr Reamai Mathers from the support organisation for Irish-medium schools, omhairle na Gaelscolaiochta, said: “The recent reports in the press in relation to schools across all sectors laced an extremely unfair emphasis on Irish-medium schools.“These latest figures highlight that hildren who attend Irish-medium schools, such as those in the mentioned in the recent press reports, are in fact ut-performing their English-medium counterparts in the two most important aspects of the primary curriculum, nglish and maths.”

He added the findings upport research carried out at Queen’s University which indicated children in Irishmedium schools have better short-term and working memory when compared to their English-medium counterparts. Dr Mathers said: “Short-term memorynd working memory are of central importance in all aspects of learning. “Tasks such as reading, reasoning and mental arithmetic rely on these.

“Researchers believe these superior results are due to what may be called ‘the bilingual advantage’, with children who are fluent in two languages having a greater amount of mental agility.” Almost 3,000 children attend more than 30 Irish-medium primary schools in Northern Ireland.

The Daily Mirror
03 Meitheamh 2010

Gaelscoil Bharra – Cuairt ar Ghaelscoil Thiobraid Arann

June 2, 2010

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