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Cath na gclubanna scoile!

October 29, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Ceisteanna na ndaltaí ag seimineár ‘Buntáiste Breise na Gaeilge’

October 26, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Think Tank: We need to educate the whole child

October 18, 2010

The primary school curriculum is falling short and blunt one-size-fits all homework assignments can quash frustrated pupils’ desire to learn.

There is little evidence to suggest that homework as we currently know it has any real benefit. Serious concerns exist among principals and teachers about its impact. It is becoming evident that the role of homework in our education system requires serious analysis.  Homework can cause a lot of stress between parents and children and can erode the quality time they have in the evening. It is often based at a challenge level suited for average to high achievers. This results in many children being frustrated by the difficulty it presents. Inexperienced teachers may sometimes over-prescribe homework and the more a teacher gives, the more valuable teaching time is lost correcting it.

Some teachers admit they give homework because they feel parents expect it; while some parents consider a teacher who gives a lot of homework to be good. But effective teaching in the classroom, which differentiates both children’s learning styles and learning abilities, far outweighs the value of repetitive homework that is not pitched at the child’s ability or individual learning style.  The teaching of Irish also needs to be viewed afresh. We have decades of experience in failing to deliver even minimal standards of proficiency. As a starting point, a national policy towards the Irish language is required and must, in the first instance, deal with the default negative attitude in society towards the language. Children come to school full of enthusiasm. Within a few years, the negativity they have absorbed puts an end to their desire to learn.

Suggested strategies could include spending less time in formal teaching of the language, teaching physical education exclusively through Irish (benefiting both subjects) and separating Irish culture from the language as an academic subject. Culture, a compulsory subject, should include drama, songs, music, stories, seanfhocail, jokes, games, humour and slang.  Social, personal and health education is currently allocated an inadequate 30 minutes a week in primary schools. It is probably the most important subject for children in today’s world of early sexualisation, negative body image, eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, bullying, depression and family dysfunction.

The Stay Safe programme has been well funded, with teachers trained to deliver its content over the past 18 years. Yet a recent survey shows that more than 10% of schools do not teach the programme. This is unacceptable given all we know now in relation to child abuse.  Physical education is allocated one hour a week, which is also inadequate. There are still poor facilities in many schools and no facilities in some. Childhood obesity and its related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, are on the rise in Ireland. There is a need for a national strategy to deal with obesity and, while schools have a part to play, they cannot be the full solution. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that girls, in particular, drop out of playing sport after leaving primary school. This needs to be addressed by the sporting bodies and by PE experts at second level.

The subject titles  Irish, English, maths, history, geography  through which the curriculum is organised have not changed much since the 19th century. Curriculum integration is a familiar concept at primary level. However, the Junior and Leaving Certificate examination system continues to exert a downward pressure on the upper end of primary school.  The time has come to find new ways of structuring the curriculum. Categorisation into traditional subject headings does little to enhance the education of the whole child. Of course it is the ideal model when success is measured by a child’s ability to reproduce information that has been learnt by rote. This blunt model does not prepare children to play a meaningful role in society, however.

While acknowledging that some aspects of curriculum continuity between primary and post-primary schools are being addressed, there is still an overall lack of continuity, not just in the area of content, but also in timetabling, pupil-teacher interaction, pastoral care and teaching methodologies. This begs the question of whether the school is meant to serve the educational needs of the child or if the child is meant to fit into various schooling systems.

The Sunday Times – Pat Goff
17 Deireadh Fómhair 2010

Walsh urges halving Irish language budget

October 18, 2010

The amount of time spent teaching Irish in schools should be slashed and ‘smart economy’ subjects such as maths, science or even Chinese should be taught instead, according to an influential educator.

Dr Edward Walsh, founding president of the University of Limerick, has proposed that the EUR1.2bn a year spent on teaching the Irish language in schools should be halved. Dr Walsh is advocating that half the resources should be diverted into teaching pupils international languages, particularly Chinese, French and German. Dr Walsh, a well-known critic of the Department of Education’s policy on the national language, has frequently proposed making Irish compulsory for only three years, making room on the curriculum for other languages.

Furthermore, he suggests that within the narrower spending limits reserved for teaching Irish “we should broaden the teaching of the language to include Irish culture. But let those who are not enthusiastic about Irish drop out after primary school. We should bring them to the well.”  Big business and multinationals have also been pushing for changes in the way the future workforce is educated. “Our Irish education system is one of the great, enduring achievements of the 20th century. It was designed to prepare students for success in a burgeoning industrial world economy, and it did its job well.

“But a 21st century services-and-knowledge-based economy has altered the landscape, and it requires different skills and ways of learning,” says IBM’s Irish boss Peter O’Neill, who highlighted advances in data sharing in the US, web-based learning in China and Germany as key advances in education.  Dr Sean Baker, chairman of the Software Association and one of the founders of Iona Technologies, believes that while Irish shouldn’t be singled out more attention needs to be focused on maths. “It is more important than some of the other individual languages because it is analytical. It is not language-based or learning-based but thinking-based. We need these skills to build the smart economy,” he said.

Exam results figures published by the Department of Education reveal that far more of our top students are taking Irish ahead of the other subjects needed to fuel the smart economy plan supposed to rescue the country.  The latest figures show that last summer more students sat Leaving Certificate Irish than the combined number of students sitting maths, applied maths and physics. Some 14,650 students sat honours Irish with just 14,480 doing either maths, applied maths or physics.
In 2009 more students sat the higher level home economics exam than higher level maths.

Sunday Independent – Shane Ross and Nick Webb
17 Deireadh Fómhair 2010

400 dalta i Leitir Ceanainn ag plé Bhuntáiste Breise na Gaeilge

October 18, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Ról na nGaelscoileanna sa Straitéis le plé

October 18, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Open Day in Marino

October 18, 2010

Interested in a career as a primary-school teacher?  Coláiste Mhuire Marino are having an Open Day on Saturday, November 20 from 11 am – 4 pm. Everyone’s welcome! For further information, go to www.mie.ie and click on teacher education. The college prospectus is available on the website too.

Seimineáir faoi Bhuntáiste Breise na Gaeilge!

October 15, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Córais oideachais do mhionlaigh teanga

October 14, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

‘Irish-Medium Education – Fundamental to the 20-year Strategy for the Irish language’ – opportune theme for Gaelscoileanna Teo. Annual Education Conference

October 14, 2010

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.’s Annual Education Conference and AGM was officially launched last night by local Councillor Seán O’Brien in the Tullamore Court Hotel, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, home of this year’s conference on the 19 and 20 November 2010.  

At the launch it was widely recognised that the Conference provides an important platform for school principals, teachers, members of parent committees, boards of management, representatives from Irish language organisations as well as for the local community and schools to gather together in celebration of Irish-medium education.

In referring to the chosen Conference theme, ‘Irish-Medium Education – Fundamental to the 20-year Strategy for the Irish language’, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.  explains its relevance “with the imminent publication of the Governments 20 year Strategy for the Irish language we are reminded of the context and fundamental importance of Irish-medium education to the future of the Irish language. The recognition awarded to Irish-medium education as well as the commitments outlined in the Strategy for developing the sector place education administrators, support organisations such as GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. as well as practitioners in our schools at the centre stage in moulding the future of Irish-medium education.  

She warmly welcomes the confirmation that Minister Pat Carey will address the public at the conference on the importance of Irish-medium education in general and to the Government.

In speaking about the Conference programme, ní Ghréacháin states, “we have developed a very comprehensive programme for this year’s conference, which has received much positive feedback and in particular due to the balance achieved between theoretical and practical workshops. We are very pleased to be able to address the expressed training needs of the schools and we are confident that the school communities will both benefit from and enjoy the programme.

At today’s Conference launch President of the organisation, Mícheál Ó Broin, expressly welcomed the local community, “we are very grateful to Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada and Gaelscoil Éadan Doire in particular whom are both assisting in raising awareness of the Conference in the local community and thereby extending the invitation to them. Their support as well as those of other enthusiasts in the community is helping to ensure that we provide and appealing and meaningful Conference. Local support further exemplifies the importance played by the school and local community in developing Irish-medium schools.

In announcing a new development in the Conference programme for 2010, Ó Broin states, “I am very pleased to announce that we will be joined this year by teachers from various gaelscoileanna in the North of Ireland who will be partaking in events as a result of a new north/south collaboration project. Teachers from both jurisdictions will have the opportunity to share expertise and best-practice from their respective schools.”

As a final word at today’s launch, Ó Broin whole-heartedly thanked the children who provided delightful music as a foretaste to their presentation at the Conference. He extended a warm welcome to the local community as well as to the community at large to join him at the Conference on the 19 and 20 November.

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. is the national coordinating organisation for Irish-medium schools at primary and post-primary level. It provides assistance and support to parents and local communities who wish to found a school and it supports existing Irish-medium schools in their development.


For those members of the media wishing to attend the conference on Friday or Saturday, 19 th and 20 November, please contact GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. at:

Office: 01-8535195 / Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin: 086 8050335/ Mícheál Ó Broin 087 9467700.

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