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A significant revision of the recognition process planned for post-primary schools

July 30, 2010

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. welcomes the Tánaiste’s statement of 28th July 2010 announcing a significant revision of the recognition process for post-primary schools.  


The criteria for judging applications to establish post-primary schools will be agreed under the proposed new framework. This will ensure the transparency of the decision making process for new schools at Departmental level.


Referring to the implications for Irish-medium post-primary schools, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. commented , “we warmly welcome the revision of the recognition process for post-primary schools and we believe it’s timely in light of the recent review of recognition criteria at primary level. We are confident that this proposed revision will facilitate post-primary provision and satisfy the needs and justifiable demands for Irish-medium education at post-primary level”.   


The need for any proposed school to be able to cater for diversity in its pupil population is amongst the criteria already cited by the Tánaiste. Irish-medium schools cater for diversity in provision on grounds of language/religious ethos and they cater and welcome pupils from every linguistic, social and academic background.  


With regard to Irish-medium Units within English-medium schools ní Ghréacháin cautions “while we welcome the proposal to provide Units to cater for the demand for Irish-medium education in cases where there is insufficient demand for an independent Irish-medium school, it is vital that consultation between ourselves and the Department continues with a view to reviewing and comprehensively developing the existing model of the Irish-medium Unit both in both concept and approach. Clearly, the Unit model can cater for demand to an extent,  , however the current model has many challenges to overcome. We would greatly welcome the opportunity for consultation with the Department on the development of a new model and on the criteria for founding Irish-medium post-primary schools going forward”.


The Tánáiste intends to form a consultative group in the Autumn which will prepare a set of proposals with regard to the recognition of post-primary schools. These will focus on the need for school places to be made available for an extra 67,000 pupils by 2024.


Ní Ghréacháin congratulates the Tánaiste for undertaking this process and states “we  are committed to co-operating with the Tánaiste and the Department of Education and Skills on this all-important issue and we are greatly looking forward to playing a central role in the challenge of putting the most effective education system into operation. We would advise that the Tánaiste ensures that a representative with specialised knowledge of the needs of Irish-medium schools be present on the Consultative Group ”. 


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 169 primary schools and 38 secondary schools currently providing education through the medium of Irish.


Further Information:

Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive Officer GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.   01 8535195

Mícheál Ó Broin, President GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.                                         087 9467700



Four Irish schools set to open in North

July 30, 2010

Four new Irish language primary schools will open in Northern Ireland in September, Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has announced.

The schools are Gaelscoil an tSeancha, Magherafelt; Gaelscoil na mBeann, Kilkeel; Gaelscoil Léim an Mhadaidh, Limavady; and Gaelscoil Choin Rí Uladh, Ballymena. The decision was made on the basis of growing demand for Irish language education, said Ms Ruane. Funding from the Department of Education will be conditional on the schools achieving admissions thresholds and proving their long-term viability.

Tom Elliott MLA, of the Ulster Unionist Party, criticised Ms Ruane’s stance on Irish-medium education, claiming that, on average, pupils in Irish-medium schools receive £460 per annum more than those in mainstream schools. Mr Elliott had previously expressed concern over preferential treatment of Irish-medium pupils.But Comhairle na Gaelscolaochta chief executive Seán Coinn welcomed the decision, and said it reflected a growing confidence in the merits of bilingual education.

The Irish Times – Hugh McDowell
30 Iúil 2010

Sports stars at Gaelscoil’s open evening

July 28, 2010

A packed room of parents and children from Ratoath were informed and entertained at last week’s open evening to publicise Gaelscoil Ráth Tó (Ratoath Gaelscoil) which will be opening for classes in Ratoath Community Centre on 30th August.
Sports personalities, boxer Bernard Dunne, Meath footballers Caoimhín King and Paddy O’Rourke with the Delaney Cup, and jockey Barry Geraghty, whose daughter will be attending the school in its first year, also attended the launch.

The presentation was to let all interested members of Ratoath’s community see the new classroom that has been set up for the first classes that will begin in just over a month’s time and also gave a chance to parents to meet the school’s new teacher, Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin, who has been working hard recently with the establishing committee, the parents’ committee and the Irish-language organisations involved in the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign, to equip the room being used and make the new classroom a reality.
Speaking on behalf of the establishing committee, Seán ” Buachalla expressed the committee’s delight that the night was such a success and so well-attended.

“We were very lucky to have some prominent sports stars there to show us their support and we are very grateful to them for giving their time for this cause,” he said.
“We would also like to express our thanks to all the parents involved in organising the night and to the Irish-language organisations who have been supporting the establishment of the school so far as part of the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign,” he added.
The ‘Aitheantas’ campaign (Irish for ‘Recognition’) is an umbrella campaign under which a number of Irish-language organisations are co-operating to help establish the school on an unofficial basis, in order to pressurise the Department of Education to recognise the school as soon as possible.

The organisations involved are Glór na nGael, Conradh na Gaeilge, Comhluadar and Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge.
“We are very happy with the huge interest and positive attitude of all those who attended the night and we look forward to the successful opening of the school within a few weeks. Since the school is being funded on a unofficial basis and receives no State funding, we welcome all donations, big and small, to aid its success.
Anyone wishing to donate to the school or simply to get more information about it can contact us at gaelscoilrathto@gmail.com or phone (087) 332 8650,” Mr ” Buachalla concluded.

Meath Chronicle – John Donohoe
28 Iúil 2010

Irish-medium schools funding row

July 28, 2010

The Stormont education minister has approved funding for four new Irish-medium schools even though hundreds of places remain unfilled in existing schools.

Premises in Magherafelt, Limavady, Kilkeel and Ballymena are scheduled to open in September.
However, Ulster Unionist Assembly member Tom Elliott criticised minister Caitriona Ruane for supporting Irish language schools while desks remain unfilled.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said: “The minister has increased the capital budget of the Irish medium sector five-fold over the past two and half years despite there being a clear under-subscription of some 830 places.
“Today’s announcement will do nothing to allay the fear that this minister has no meaningful plan for dealing with a reduced budget and a need to rationalise the entire school estate. This is a fear that exists in all sectors.”

However, the minister said the new schools reflected the demand from parents for education in Irish.
She said: “The Department of Education has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education. I am therefore giving these four new schools conditional approval because I believe they will ensure that the choice of primary education through the medium of Irish is available to a growing number of children.”

The new schools are Gaelscoil an tSeanchai, Magherafelt; Gaelscoil na mBeann, Kilkeel; Gaelscoil Leim an Mhadaidh, Limavady and Gaelscoil Choin Ri Uladh, Ballymena.
The 830 empty places were disclosed by the minister in an Assembly written answer.
Ms Ruane said that despite unequal provision in some areas she had a statutory responsibility to meet demand. She added: “There are empty desks in every sector and in all cases, a strategic approach is taken regarding funding decisions.”

Irish Independent
28 Iúil 2010

Ruane under fire over funding for Irish schools

July 28, 2010

Caitriona Ruane has been challenged over her spending on Irish language schools when many have a significant number of empty seats.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott questioned the education minister over her capital investment in Northern Ireland’s 22 Irish language primary schools in an Assembly written question.
A total of 830 spaces were unfilled across the sector, according to the schools’ census of October last year.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative has concerns over spending on Irish language schools which he says has risen “five-fold in the last three years”.

He said: “Given that 830 places remain empty within the Irish medium sector, I would question why the minister of education Caitriona Ruane is continuing to invest in the sector given the current fiscal constraints faced by the Northern Ireland Executive and her department.

“The minister is constantly crying poverty within her budget – yet she has increased her capital budget for Irish medium schools five-fold in the last three years when schools are not even reaching capacity and seats are remaining empty. Why?”
Earlier this year, the minister was embroiled in a row over her proposals to cut the £800 per pupil funding allocated to prep schools – while defending the £3,371 allocated to those in the Irish language sector.
The average primary school pupil in the Province attracts £2,911 in government funding while integrated schools receive £3,024 per pupil.

At the time, the education department said Irish medium schools were entitled to additional support.
A department spokesman said: “Higher average funding levels per pupil in Irish medium and integrated schools will, in part, reflect the greater proportion of smaller schools in these growing sectors.”
Mr Elliott said he respected the right of parents to educate their children in Irish but highlighted the “inevitable rationalisation” in the education sector and added: “We are going to have to find innovative ways to condense the school estate.”

The education minister responded to the latest criticism saying: “The overall number of children educated through the medium of Irish continues to grow across the north, although there is unequal provision in some areas.”
Ms Ruane said the department had “statutory responsibilities regarding how that demand is met” and added: “There are empty desks in every sector and in all cases a strategic approach is taken regarding funding decisions.”

Belfast Newsletter
28 Iúil 2010

Tacaíocht léirithe ag Laochra Spóirt do Ghaelscoil Ráth Tó

July 27, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Oíche Mhór ar son na Gaelscolaíochta

July 27, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Significant Progress Made With Plans For New Gaelscoil In Ratoath

July 27, 2010

Last night’s open evening in Gaelscoil Ráth Tó was confirmation for the local community in Ratoath that the new school has a bright future ahead of it. A great crowd came to visit the new classroom in the Rathoath Community Centre and to meet the school’s teacher, Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin. Amongst those who gathered to wish the new school the best of luck was the boxer Bernard Dunne, the footballers Patrick O’Rourke and Caoimhín King (with the Delaney Cup in tow!) and the jockey Barry Geraghty, whose daughter is due to attend the school when it opens in September 2010.

There has been huge local interest in the new Gaelscoil. The school’s founding committee and GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. – the organisation which represents 138 Irish-medium primary schools – were very disappointed with the decision made by the Department of Education and Skills in relation to recognition for new schools for 2010. Ratoath had been included as one of the 9 areas identified in the Department of Education’s plan for the provision of primary education where new schools were to be opened there in September 2010, but unfortunately Gaelscoil Ráth Tó was not granted recognition, in spite of the great demand for a new gaelscoil in the area. The school’s founding committee made the decision to open without the official recognition of the Department of Education and Skills, which means that the founding committee will be under some pressure to deliver an excellent standard of education to children in the area whose parents have chosen Irish-medium education for them.

Míchéal Ó Broin, the President of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. has said that  “the support that the local community and the public in general has given the founding committee shows that there is a real need for a gaelscoil in the area to facilitate the demand for Irish-medium education. The public has an increased awareness of the advantages of Irish-medium education in terms of the social, academic and communicative development of children. I’m very grateful to all of the Irish-medium schools who have been very generous with their donations; financial contributions, furniture, and more. I applaud the voluntary work that the members of this founding committee have dedicated themselves to for so long in order to make their vision a reality in Ratoath”.

The founding committee was very happy with the turn out at last night’s event and its members are hopeful that it might increase enrolments for 2010, 2011 and subsequent years. They have received much support from Irish-language organisations, local politicians and businesses, the community in Ratoath and other Irish-medium schools around the country to help them to make the school a reality and the hearty celebrations in Gaelscoil Ráth Tó last night were evidence of that.

Irish language schools needed

July 22, 2010

There are only eight secondlevel gaelscoileanna or gaelcholaisti in Dublin today – five on the southside of the city and three on the northside.

I have the height of respect for Tanaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan. I am, however, surprised that she still has not given the people involved in setting up two new gaelcholaisti a date for when they can open. Colaiste Ghlor na Mara, on the northside, and Gaelcholaiste Deisceart Bhaile Atha Cliath, on the southside, would be very welcome schools to thousands of young people.

The Irish language community needs these schools in Dublin if we are to noticeably increase the number of Irish speakers in the country. As the capital, Dublin is crucially important for those of us interested in seeing our native language being promoted well.

Darren J Prior
Leamhain Chaislean Cnucha, Caislean Cnucha, Baile Atha Cliath 15

Irish Independent – Litir chuig an Eagarthóir
21 Iúil 2010

Parents press on with plans for Gaelscoil

July 19, 2010

A GROUP of parents in Ratoath, Co Meath, are pressing ahead with plans to establish a Gaelscoil in the town despite receiving no funding or recognition from the Department of Education and Science.

No Gaelscoil has received recognition since 2008, and the department has rejected all seven applications for recognition to commence made by Gaelscoileanna this year.

Gaelscoil Rath Tó plans to open in September and currently has 11 students registered to enter a junior infants class.

Some 30 students had been registered for this class before the department confirmed it would not grant the school recognition.

The school still has over 30 students registered for entry for every year from 2011 to 2014.

Minister for Education Mary Coughlan has said there is not sufficient demographic growth in Ratoath to merit a new primary school there.

“There was a specific application for the establishment of a new Gaelscoil in Ratoath, Co Meath,” she told the Dáil last April. “However, after detailed analysis of the increase in pupil numbers for September this year and of the capacity in existing schools it was not necessary to establish a new school to cater for the demographic increase.”

She said that no primary schools would be given recognition to commence until a review of application procedures has been completed.

Seán Ó Buachalla, a member of the school’s establishment committee, said the department had admitted the need for a new school in Ratoath in late 2009, but had “U-turned” on that decision in February 2010. “Demographics suggest a new school will be needed in Ratoath. The 2006 census showed that Ratoath has the highest youth population in the country, with 36 per cent of the town under 14 years of age.”

A classroom has been secured on the first floor of Ratoath’s community centre, and the school has hired a teacher using financial assistance from Conradh na Gaeilge. Local businesses have pledged their support to the project, and have provided desks, chairs and cleaning services.

Gaelscoil Rath Tó is hosting an open evening in the school this Wednesday, which Mr Ó Buachalla hopes will attract new enrolments and restore the confidence of parents who are nervous about sending their children to an unrecognised school. “This is not just a local issue, but a national one,” he said. “It is a unifying issue for anybody who supports Irish language education.”

Hugh McDowell

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