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Special Needs in Irish medium Education to be discussed at conference

November 30, 2011

Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, John Ó Dowd will attend a conference on special needs in Irish medium education, which will take place in the Seán Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry tomorrrow, December 1st.

The conference organised by POBAL will focus on how to maximize North/South cooperation in relation to the  training and support needs of the Irish medium education sector when providing for children with additional educational needs.  Educators, teachers, and representatives from all aspects of the sector will be attending this conference to share information and explore ideas in relation to joint-working initiatives, particularly in relation to the development of training and research in this area.   Professor Dónall Ó Baoill will chair this debate.

This conference draws on the research carried out by POBAL, Special Education Needs in Irish medium schools: All-island research on the support and training needs of the sector.

Janet Muller, Chief Executive of POBAL says there are “interesting opportunities to maximize resources but, as you can imagine, there are also some difficulties to overcome.  We believe that it is possible to strengthen these links and find useful ways to share information on a more structured basis.”

Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com 29 Samhain 2011

Daltaí dátheangach níos cliste – Foinse

November 30, 2011

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Apps in Irish

November 29, 2011

Until recently there were little or no mobile applications available in the Irish language, despite the huge shift in the huge growth of the Smartphone industry and changes in the way people access information online.

2011 was a milestone year as it was the first year ever where tablet and Smartphone sales overtook laptop sales.
People are changing to Smartphones and consumers attitudes and behaviours are changing, and no more is the change more apparent than amongst teenagers, or digital natives as the digital industry calls them.

A study carried out by Mobile Youth this year revealed 60% of teenagers go to bed with their phone beside them. Before they go to bed over 45% of Smartphone owners check in on social networks and the web.

Much of this revolution is based on the growth of social networks on Twitter and Facebook. Whereas previously users logged on using pc’s or laptops, now consumers are checking in using their smartphones. This is due in no so small measure to the speed and functionality of the mobile devices and the various operating systems from iOS on the iPhone to  Android devices, Windows and Blackberry which are available.

Finally however it seems the Irish language has caught up with technology in this regard and a raft of new  applications have been launched.  Check them out by searching for ‘Gaeilge’ in the Appstore.

1.  Enjoy Irish
Developed by educational company, Oideas Gael, this application is aimed at Irish language learners. The user can listen to Irish language conversations while reading the text of conversations. This app is based on the Irish language course, ‘Enjoy Irish’ and is particularly useful for those hoping to perfect the Irish learned at school in years previously.

2. Cúla 4
This app was launched at Oireachtas na Gaeilge in Killarney earlier this month. The app features a fun range of words for preschoolers which deal with a wide range of subjects from the weather to animals, cars and parts of the body. The interactive app was developed by TG4’s inhouse design team.

3. Bábóg Baby
Bábóg Baby, the cuddly bear which speaks Irish was a sell-out success last Christmas and this year the bear has turned his eye to technology. The Bábóg Baby app features words and phrases suitable for toddlers and young Irish language learners and is available on iPhone and Android.

4 Cliúsaíocht as Gaeilge
This has to be the funniest app available as Gaeilge on the market. The app is based on a book written by Rossa Ó Snodaigh from Kíla and its adult humour most certainly would scare the living daylights out of your granny. This provocative app features phrases on flirting, emotions and the human body and is full of wit and plámás.

5.  Get the Focal
Maithú, a web development company were well ahead of the posse when they first launched their Irish language app, get the focal almost two years ago.  The translator contains words and terminology as Gaeilge from the Ó Dómhnaill Irish language dictionary as well as terminology from Focal.ie. The app is useful for those who are looking for an Irish word that’s just not on the tip of the tongue. And it’s a useful one for table quizzes by all accounts as well. Oh the wonderful world of the mobile web!

©Foilsithe  ar Cogar.ie ar 23 Samhain 2011

Attack on the Education System forecasted in the coming budget. Far-reaching implications for Irish-medium Education

November 29, 2011

Given the economic crisis and the sorry state of the country’s public finances, it’s widely predicted that this year’s budget, the details of which will be announced on December 5th and 6th, will be very harsh. We recognise that this has serious implications for the Education Sector, Irish-medium Education in particular. The Education Sector has taken its fair share of cuts in recent years, with noticeable cuts in the Education budget beginning in 2008. These cuts have had a significant effect on Irish-medium schools: class sizes have increased, approximately 50% of schools are operating in temporary and unsuitable accommodation, more schools than ever are disadvantaged and fewer new schools are being granted departmental recognition.

This follows last year’s grave decision by the Department of Education and Skills to change the slightly favourable pupil-teacher ratio in Irish-medium schools. Another rise in the pupil-teacher ratio is predicted in this year’s budget. Schools all over the country, particularly those in the Irish-medium sector will not be able to sustain this further increase and the quality of teaching will suffer accordingly.

The slightly higher pupil-teacher ratio in Irish-medium schools implicitly acknowledged some of the additional challenges of teaching in an Irish-medium school such as an Irish language curriculum and fewer available resources and supports. This slightly favourable ratio sought to strengthen and protect Irish-medium education and the Irish language ethos of schools.

From September 2011, Irish-medium primary schools have the same pupil-teacher ratio as schools teaching through the medium of English. The implementation of this change was disastrous for Irish-medium schools. Some schools would have had to attract a further 17-23 pupils in September 2011 to keep all their teachers. This figure is completely unreasonable, particularly given that most of these schools are no longer developing. Any previous changes to the schedule sought an increase of one or two pupils. Up to 31 schools have lost one teachers and four others have lost two. In the case of six schools, the principal had to return to the classroom.

The Government recognises the pivotal role of Irish-medium education in the implementation of the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language. We entreat them to defend the sector through their positive actions as the rights and the future of children depends on it. We implore the Government to protect the already seriously compromised capitation grant. If this grant is further cut, schools will become more dependent on voluntary contributions from parents, putting them under further pressure to dig deeper into their already empty pockets.

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.

Bilingual Advantange in the classroom

November 28, 2011

Bilingual pupils outperform  English speakers in maths at second and third level, according to a new report published earlier this month.

The new report published by the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning in the University of Limerick is based on a study carried out by Dr Máire Ní Ríordáin over a three year period from 2005 and 2008.

The aim of the study was to investigate Irish post-primary and undergraduate mathematics students experiences of learning Maths through the medium of English, which  was their second language.

The report finds that learning maths through the medium of Irish at primary school level may enhance long term understanding of maths, even in English-medium second level education.

However it notes that the during the transition from Irish medium education to English medium second level education that  Irish speakers did experience some disadvantage  of 8.7% when assessed in English. However the report’s author notes that  these problems were only experienced in the initial transition and are specific to having English as the new language of learning.

Obstacles faced by Irish speakers included problems with the register of English Mathematics, including syntax semantics and mathematics vocabulary.

However,“ The advantages of being bilingual can outweigh the negative ones once proficiency is developed in both languages” says Dr Ní Ríordáin.

The report notes that Irish speakers use both language when solving mathematical problems and that students switch between languages. Further research needs to  look at how code-switching can be incorporated into the classroom.  It also notes that future government initiatives could consider the opportunity of studying additional subjects through the medium of Irish. Minister Seán Sherlock launched the report which can be downloaded here.

©Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com 24 Samhain 2011.

Seimineár lae ar litríocht na Nua-Ghaeilge san Ardteist

November 28, 2011

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Tacaíocht an phobail á lorg do Ghaelcholáiste nua i nDún Droma

November 28, 2011

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge chun tosaigh

November 28, 2011

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

The standard of English and Mathematics in Irish-medium Schools above the national average

November 28, 2011

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.  welcomes today’s announcement by the Education Research Institute that the standard of English and mathematics in Irish-medium schools is well above the national average. Speaking at the Annual Education Conference 2011, which opened today in Tullamore, Dr. Gerry Shiel, chief researcher with the ERC confirmed that this was the first time that the majority of Irish-medium and Gaeltacht primary schools were assessed on their achievement levels in English and mathematics as an independent cohort. These positive results reinforce results of other independent native research and support the much documented international research findings on the benefits of immersion education.

Today’s results compound recent research findings of the NCE-MSTL (The Centre of Excellence in the Learning and Teaching of Mathematics and Science) which verify the benefits of a bilingual approach to learning mathematics in Ireland for the child.  The National Strategy on Literacy and Numeracy for learning and for life 2011-2020 in the context of Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools is the focal point of this year’s Conference. This will be discussed and debated in a series of workshops throughout the two days, focussing on effective strategies for achieving excellence at primary, post-primary and third level education.

Ciarán Cannon, Minister of State for Training and Skills officially opened today’s Conference, entitled Enriching Children’s Lives. In his keynote address to the Conference, the Minister commended the Irish-medium and Gaeltacht school communities and their stakeholders for the encouraging results published, as well as their consistent high standards and excellence.  He acknowledged the huge importance of Irish-medium schools, coupled with their teachers and staff, who ensure successful learning outcomes for pupils.  The Minister also acknowledged the considerable demand from the community for Irish-medium education at every level. He furthermore congratulated GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. for its pioneering work in enthusing parents, in espousing the benefits of Irish-medium education and in supporting high quality provision.

Mícheál Ó Broin, president of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.  welcomed the Minister’s statement, “we are delighted with the acknowledgment of the importance of the Irish-medium sector, and of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO’s role in this vital work, and we are very grateful to the Minister for joining us for today’s discussions. We recognise, however, that the current economic crisis has serious implications for us.  We are constantly struggling to overcome obstacles. We recognise that the Department’s budget is constrained, but we implore that the Department does not use this crisis as a scapegoat for shirking their duties and commitments with regard to the development of Irish-medium education. All we ask is that our children and our schools are treated fairly”.
Ó Broin praised the 300 strong gathering from diverse sections of the Irish-medium community at both primary and post-primary level, within and outside of Gaeltacht areas, for the heartening results presented by Dr. Shiel. He acknowledged additional pressures on schools, particularly over the past year, with the increase in pupil-teacher ratios and the consequent increase in class sizes, “despite the extreme challenges which they faced over the past year, the schools have proved the effectiveness of Irish-medium education as an education system through their consistent diligence and high standards”.

In explaining the rationale for the Conference theme Enriching Children’s Lives,  Ó Broin states “today’s research findings and the consistent results from Irish-medium schools confirm that children’s lives are being enriched through, and as a consequence of, Irish-medium education and we’re proud that our schools represent children from all social, economic and academic backgrounds ”.

Ó Broin extended a warm welcome to the Chief Executive of the Commission on Human Rights, who spoke at the Conference reception on the theme of school entrance policies, diversity and pluralism in the education system and the availability of Irish-medium education to parents as a human right.”

Ó Broin heartily thanked all participants of the Conference from all corners of Ireland and made special mention of delegates from the north and from Gaeltacht areas.  He commented, “the success of 2011’s Conference is unquestionably due to the schools’ commitment to continual learning in achieving high standards for all children.”

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.

Minister Ciarán Cannon opens the annual conference of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta

November 28, 2011

The Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon, T.D., today opened the annual conference of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta, in the Tullamore Court Hotel, Co. Offaly.

After thanking the organisers for inviting him and congratulating students on their involvement in the event, Minister Cannon noted the increase in demand for Irish medium education saying that “this is thanks in large part to the work of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta in enthusing parents, in espousing the benefits of bilingualism, and in supporting high quality provision”.

This growth can be seen in the number of Irish–medium services at various levels of the education system:

  • In 2011, 25 new naíonraí opened across the country, compared to 17 in 2010
  • At primary level the number of schools teaching through Irish outside of the Gaeltacht has increased from 20 in 1976 to 140 in 2011
  • At second level, the number of Irish medium schools outside of the Gaeltacht has increased from 16 in 2000/1 to 27 currently, with a further 10 schools with Irish streams

Gaelscoileanna Teoranta aims to develop, facilitate and encourage Irish-medium education at primary and post-primary levels. As well as liaising with the Department of Education and Skills on policy matters, it provides valuable practical support to school communities. This includes in-service courses to teachers, principals and boards of management on requirements specific to Irish medium education.

The Minister noted the resources provided by the Department towards Irish medium- education, which include “professional development services delivered through Irish, summer courses and online resources.

“In an encouraging sign for the future, I am delighted to see that the colleges of education continue to attract students to the teacher education programmes who have achieved a high grade in higher level Irish in the Leaving Certificate examination”.

The Minister concluded by again thanking the organisers.

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