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Irish to be included in assessment criteria for new schools

August 10, 2010

Tánaiste and Minsiter for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan, TD, has recently announced major reforms in the system employed in recognising new second level schools.  An Tánaiste intends to set out a framework of criteria, which will be used as assessment criteria, to allow for a transparent system for recognising new schools.

The Tánaiste is to establish a new expert group, known as the Second-Level Patronage Advisory Group, who will consider applications for new schools and advise the Tánaiste in relation to those applications, having undertaken survey work of parental views and using the criteria to be set down.

It is expected that the number of students in the second level education system will rise by 67,000 by the year 2024, and the greatest rise is expected in the east of the country.  An Tánaiste said: ‘The need for clear criteria and increased transparency in decision making on the patronage in these cases arises as there are now a number of patron bodies seeking to establish new schools.

While specific criteria are yet to be established, the Department of Education and Skills have proposed that criteria include whether the school can cater by way of an Aonad for pupils desiring tuition through the Irish Language (in areas where there are insufficient numbers for an Irish medium second-level school);

New criteria suggested will also examine whether the school model proposed has the capacity to operate schools in the size range of 800 to 1,000 pupils, however a lower threshold of 400 would apply for Gaelcholáistí having regard to the alternative of establishing an Aonad within a school.

With regard to Irish-medium Units within English-medium schools Bláthnaid 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 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.”.

©Gaelport.com 10 Lúnasa 2010

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