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Calls for Gaelscoil project to progress

April 17, 2012

South Tipperary independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Government to progress the Gaelscoil Cluain Meala project to planning stage without delay.

Deputy McGrath who was involved in ensuring the site acquisition in 2010 and ensuring that monies were paid over to South Tipperary County Council for the site has expressed his dismay at the lack of action from the Department of Education in advancing the Gaelscoil project.

“The site for the Gaelscoil was acquired at the end of 2010, subject to planning permission, yet the Department has made absolutely no effort to bring the project to the planning stages. I have been informed that Department officials have held one preliminary pre-planning discussion with planning officials in Clonmel Borough Council but there has been no other contact between the Department of Education and Clonmel Borough Council,” said Deputy McGrath

“There was a time-frame set down for this project to go through planning stages, yet the Department have not done anything since site acquisition. Are they just going to sit around and wait for this project to fall flat on its face after so much effort was put into acquiring the site?” he continued.

“I am calling on the Department of Education to make an effort to advance this project without further delay,” he said.


Grease! le Gaelscoil agus Naíonra Dhroichead na Banndan

April 16, 2012

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Bunscoil an Iúir – Díolachán Cístí agus Crannchur na Cásca

April 16, 2012

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Withdrawal of teachers disadvantaging rural schools

April 16, 2012

We write in relation to the withdrawal of teaching posts from 16 rural disadvantaged schools from Sep 2012.

Minister Quinn apologised for targeting disadvantaged schools earlier this year and announced a review of these cuts.

While urban disadvantaged schools were invited to participate in this review, we in rural disadvantaged schools were afforded no such opportunity.

There was simply a blanket cut made to all of our concessionary teachers.

The loss of these teachers at one of the most difficult times our economy has ever faced is going to add to the level of disadvantage that children in deprived rural communities already face.

Many of us work in communities ravaged by unemployment of up to 35%, with more of their population on the live register.

This is over twice the national average.

Many are single parent families — research indicates that these children are at risk of consistent poverty.

The concessionary teaching posts have enhanced the life chances of targeted children, resulted in improvements in literacy and numeracy standards.

They have and ensured that children at risk of early school leaving have made successful transition to second-level schools.

We urge the minister to consider the consequences of removing concessionary teachers — a retrograde step which may result in falling standards and a breakdown in the social cohesion within our communities.

At this time, with our country facing huge challenges, we need to harness the potential of all our children and maintain current education standards.

Hugh Lafferty, principal. Scoil Adhamhnain, Raphoe, Lifford, Co. Donegal; James McHugh, principal, SN An Chaiseal, Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal; Ann Marie Meehan, principal, SN Baoithin, St. Johnson, Lifford, Co. Donegal; Mairead Mhic Dhonnacha, principal, SN Mhic Dara, Carraroe, Co. Galway; Fionnuala Kirk, principal, St. Conleth’s NS, Derrinturn, Co. Kildare; Treasa Uí Mhuirithe, principal, SN Eachleime, Ballina, Co. Mayo; Gabriel Meehan, principal. An t-Ath Eamonn Ó Gallchoir, chairperson, BOM, Scoil Chartha Naofa, Kilcar, Co. Donegal; Mary Meaney, principal. Maureen Maloney, chairperson, BOM, Scoil Mhuire, Clifden, Co. Galway; Mary Harkin, principal, Rev.Peter Devlin, chairperson, BOM, Scoil Cholmcille, Malin, Lifford, Co. Donegal; Siobhan Ferry, principal, Fr. Charlie Byrne, chairperson, BOM, Scoil Cholmcille, Carrigart, Co. Donegal; Barbara Boyle, principal, Rev. Patrick Prendergast, chairperson, BOM, Scoil Mhuire, Glenties, Co. Donegal; Gabriel Keane, principal, Fr. Jim McCormack, chairperson, BOM, St. Joseph’s NS, Hacketstown, Co. Carlow; Anita Healy, principal, Maire O’Malley, chairperson, BOM, SN Ros Dumhach, Ballina, Co. Mayo; Shane O’Donnell, principal, Fr. Ronan chairperson, BOM, Glenealy 1 NS, Glenealy, Co. Wicklow; Miriam Cahill, principal, Fr. D. Nolan, chairperson, BOM, SN Naomh Iosaf, Rathnew, Co. Wicklow; Pat McDermot, principal, Mary Woolley, chairperson, BOM St. Ernan’s BNS, Rathew, Co. Wicklow.


Tuam and Ballinasloe parents to be consulted on school patronage

April 16, 2012

The Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary education sector published its report this week with recommendations which include registering the preference of parents in a number of towns including Tuam and Ballinasloe.

The report recommended that up to 50 schools located throughout the country be divested and that these schools will be chosen from some 250 schools in four Dublin areas, and 43 towns, including Tuam and Ballinasloe. As part of this process parents with pre-school children in these 47 areas will be approached and consulted on their opinions regarding religious patronage.

The report noted that while 96 per cent of education provision at primary level is denominational arising from the historical development of Irish primary education, there is a clearly increased demand for new forms of multi-denominational and non-denominational schooling, as well as increased demand for Irish language schooling.

The report recommends achieving diversity of patronage by using the existing stock of schools in areas where the population is stable. Where there is a cluster of denominational schools but also parental demand for alternative school patronage, the report recommends that transfer of patronage be achieved with the assistance of the Department and in a phased basis, through the adoption of a catchment approach and taking into account the preferences of parents.

Welcoming the report Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn said: “We live in a changed and changing nation. There is a general acceptance that a greater diversity of primary schooling is necessary… The key issue is how best to promote and develop this diversity. The Advisory Group report will assist us in this complex area.”

“Parental choice should be our main concern. Over recent decades, Irish society has been undergoing major political, social, economic, cultural, demographic and educational change. Primary school provision needs to reflect this changed society and provide for increased diversity.”


Gaeltacht schools, small rural schools and rural communities will protest against austerity measures in Galway next Saturday at the Labour Party Ard Fheis

April 11, 2012

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50 towns to see handover of school patronage

April 10, 2012

Nearly 50 communities around the country have been identified as the sites where the Catholic Church should first hand over control of primary schools.

This is one of the key recommendations in the long-awaited report of the advisory group to Education Minister Ruairí Quinn’s Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector.

Following almost a year of consultations, it also calls for changes to how denominational schools in areas where choice remains limited, cater for an increasingly diverse pupil population.

This should lead to new protocols to promote inclusiveness around issues such as the teaching of religion, display of religious artifacts, and other issues which cause tensions in some communities where non-Catholic children have no choice but to attend a school under the patronage of the local Catholic bishop.

The group was chaired by John Coolahan, a former NUI Maynooth professor of education. The other two members are former National Parents’ Council-Primary chief executive Fionnuala Kilfeather and ex-University College Dublin deputy president Caroline Hussey.

Their draft report was submitted to the minister before Christmas and Mr Quinn is expected to largely support the recommendations when he gives his official response next month.

The 43 towns and the four areas of Dublin singled out for the first phase of divestment were identified by the department in 2010. That came after a request from Catholic bishops who wanted to know where there was likely to be most demand for greater choice of schools among parents, but where populations were not likely to rise enough to warrant a new school.

They include more than 30 communities with no multi-denominational school, some where there are already up to six or seven primary schools.

“There is urgency for action on divesting. But a ‘big bang’ or radical upheaval approach is not advisable. In this context, change of patronage should happen in a phased, incremental way,” the report says.

The advisory group said groups which expressed views to its consultation process accepted it was unrealistic to expect patronage transfer to happen without costs.

However, its report said some spending would appear eminently justifiable.

Mr Quinn says he is mindful that changes should be cost-neutral where possible, given the demands on resources available for primary education. However, he says parental choice remains the main concern.

“Over recent decades, Irish society has been undergoing major political, social, economic, cultural, demographic and educational change. Primary school provision needs to reflect this changed society and provide for increased diversity.”

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, which first called for a forum on patronage over a decade ago, welcomed the report. However, it said this was the start of the process and the real work would now begin at local school level.

The advisory group also considered the question of Irish-medium primary schools, and has recommended piloting a concept of “satellite” schools linked to well-established parent all-Irish schools.


Emphasis on Irish and religion

April 10, 2012

A chara, –

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, as reported by Seán Flynn on April 5th, seems a tad surprised that up to 30 per cent of contact time is taken up by religion and Irish in primary classes.

Contact time in religion is dictated by the Minister in circular 11/95 and Irish in circular 56/2011. Furthermore, Department of Education inspectors frequently recommend that other areas, such as PE, art, prayers, song, dance, etc, be taught through Irish and praise this practice in school reports.

The Minister could change, reconstruct or abolish this tomorrow if he so wished by composing and distributing a new circular. –

Is mise,
Liam McGowan
Co Donegal.

Irish Times – Letters

Church prepares for historic handover of primary schools

April 10, 2012

But any bid to switch educational patron must get parents’ go-ahead

The first official steps towards a historic handover of Catholic primary schools to other patron bodies will get under way shortly.

A softly, softly approach to the transfer is recommended with about 50 schools expected to be involved in initial efforts to switch patron.

Up to 47 towns and suburban areas of Dublin have been targeted for the first phase of the process.

These areas have 250 schools between them so, on average, one Catholic school in each area could be transferred to a new patron, such as the multi-denominational body, Educate Together.

But crucially, any decision to change the patronage of a school will have to have the support of local parents.

If parents agree, the Department of Education hopes that the handover of the first Catholic schools to another patron could start happening in about a year.

Where there is a demand for a change of patronage of a school in an area, parents would also have to agree on who that new patron should be, which may prove controversial.

The report of an expert group yesterday set out a roadmap for the handover process, which is aimed at creating greater choice of primary schools to reflect the changing social mix in Ireland.

As well as providing greater choice on grounds of religion, the advisory body also recommends that more all-Irish schools should emerge from the process to meet demand from parents.

The Forum of Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, chaired by leading educationalist Professor John Coolahan, deliberated for six months last year. It held public hearings and also received 247 submissions.

Currently, 96pc of the 3,200 primary schools are under the control of the churches, overwhelmingly the Catholic Church, which runs 92pc of them.

As well as recommending a process for the handover of schools, the advisory group suggests ways in which all schools can cater for children of different religious beliefs.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who released the report yesterday, welcomed its findings.

He said “We live in a changed and changing nation. Primary school provision needs to reflect this changed society and provide for increased diversity. Parental choice should be our main concern” Mr Quinn has been an enthusiastic advocate of change and when he set up the forum last year he spoke of up to half of primary schools being transferred from the control of the Catholic Church.

However, the forum cautions against a ‘big bang’ approach and advises that change of patronage should happen in a phased way, taking account of the preferences of parents.

Mr Quinn will announce a plan of action for the change process in about a month.

The report recommends that the first phase of change would involve examining school patronage in 43 towns and four suburban areas in Dublin areas already identified as likely to have substantial demand for diversity.

These are areas where there is a stable population and also an existing demand for greater school choice and divesting from an existing patron, most often the Catholic Church.

The forum also calls for greater inclusivity in all schools, aimed at ensuring that these are as inclusive as possible and accommodate pupils of various belief systems.

One recommendation is that preparation for the sacraments have no part in the school day anywhere and that schools have a policy on the display of religious and non-religious artefacts , which are not exclusive to any one faith, but which have balance.

The forum is especially concerned about communities served by a single school, where transfer of patronage is not an option. There are about 1,700 of these, which are at least 3km from their nearest neighbour.


Scoileanna Gaeltachta ag ullmhú don agóid i nGaillimh

April 10, 2012

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

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