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Concerns over Gaelscoil representation in Government surveys

January 29, 2013

Significant steps were taken over the past month in the divestment of primary schools from the Catholic Church in 44 areas.

Parents in Kildare received good news two weeks ago when it was announced that a new Gaelscoil would open in the area at the end of the year, however Irish language organisations and patronage body An Foras Pátrúnachta are concerned about representation in surveys that have been distributed until now.

Surveys which were distributed in five areas before Christmas showed that 4-10% of parents were looking for a change in primary school patronage in their area. It was also clear that a large percentage of parents in those areas did not partake in the surveys at all which presents the risk of the public not being properly represented in the survey results.

Minister Ruairí Quinn recently launched primary school patronage surveys in 38 more areas countrywide. There is currently no access to a Gaelscoil in 9 of those areas – Passage West, Roscrea, Birr, Kells, New Ross, Skerries, Mulhuddard, Portmarnock Ballyfermot/ Chapelizod/ Palmerstown.

However it is uncertain whether the Minister believes that any further announcements of school openings is to follow the surveys, due to the stable nature of the population in some of the more rural areas. Minister Quinn did hint that more negotiations might take place to divest current schools from the patronage of the Catholic Church, depending on the outcome of the surveys.

Irish Language organisations are urging parents in these areas to take part in the surveys and for those who wish to send their children to a gaelscoil to show support for An Foras Pátrúnachta.

It is crucial that parents are aware that Irish language education can be made available to their children if there is a demand for it and that religious belief is not the only topic in the surveys.

All surveys must be submitted before 8 February 2013. All information on the reform in patronage can be found at www.foras.ie and an electronic copy of the survey can be found on www.education.ie.

Foilsithe ar Gaelport

Recommendation: COGG should function as a satellite to the NCCA

January 29, 2013

As no financial savings have been attributed to the decision to collocate the offices of COGG and the NCCA, An Chomhdháil recommends COGG should function as an independent satellite.

The future of An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) has been discussed at length in the media over the past number of months since General Secretary of the Department of Education and Skills, Seán Ó Foghlú, first announced the decision to locate COGG and the NCCA in one building.

As the NCCA prepare to move offices this summer, it has been proposed by the Department of Education and Skills that the co-location should begin at that point.

At an educational conference in November, the Department of Education and Skills announced that no immediate change would occur to the functions of COGG. While this statement was presumably meant to reassure the educators present, the opposite was true as teachers left the conference of the opinion that “no immediate change” was tantamount to saying the functions were destined to change in the not too distant future.

The primary function of COGG is to support the specific requirements of education through the medium of Irish both in Gaeltacht areas and in Gaelscoileanna, and they therefore provide learning resources and teaching aids, as well as support and research to the relevant schools. The Department’s latest decision would see COGG concentrating more on their other functions in relation to the teaching of Irish as a subject in English speaking schools.

While addressing the Dáil in answering a parliamentary question on December 18th Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn assured the Dáil that COGG would be fulfilling their legislative functions as they have up until now, and that they would be doing so through Irish, and providing the same Irish language services to the public in the future as they are now.

A short number of weeks later, the Department changed their tune and wrote to the Chairperson of COGG informing him that staff would now have to revert to using English in their day-to-day jobs to facilitate liaisons with the staff of the NCCA.

Speaking about the decision of the Department of Education and Skills, Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Kevin De Barra said “Until An Chomhdháil, Gaelscoileanna and Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta founded COGG, the structures did not exist to serve the unique requirements of Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna. Our sector is now afraid that this is the first step in the erosion of such support structures and services”.

De Barra contends the level of support COGG can provide Gaelscoil and Gaeltacht schools will deteriorate if COGG employees are obliged to concentrate specifically on the Irish language curriculum for English speaking schools.

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge have stated that the decision completely contradicts the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language, which supports the role of COGG and states:

• An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta will play a key role in the implementation of the Strategy in the education sector working in collaboration with existing agencies.

• The Council will be appropriately staffed and resourced to carry out its existing remit:

• The role of COGG will be strengthened to reflect the need to address various issues particular to the teaching and learning of Irish in schools operating through the medium of Irish, both inside and outside the Gaeltacht and the teaching of Irish in all recognised schools.
Kevin De Barra says an urgent meeting will be requested with the Minister of Education and Skills in which An Chomhdháil will urge the Minister to consider the practicalities involved in the decision.

De Barra said, “No financial saving has been attributed to this decision. The new office of the NCCA will be located a stone’s throw from the current COGG office. Certain services such as legal or technical support can and should be shared, and COGG should certainly provide advice to the Minister and the NCCA about the Irish language curriculum. However, the primary role of COGG, to support education through the medium of Irish in Gaeltacht and Gaelscoil schools, would be best served by COGG functioning as an independent satellite to the NCCA, 100% through the medium of Irish”.


Meeting on new gaelscoil held in Kildare town

January 29, 2013

More than 50 people attended a meeting last Thursday in the Kildare Education Centre to discuss the establishment of a new gaelscoil in the area.

The meeting follows an announcement by the Minister For Education that a new gaelscoil will be established in Kildare town next September.

Seán de Paor, the principal of Gaelscoil Chill Dara attended and spoke at the meeting.

He explained that with 25% of pupils at Gaelscoil Chill Dara coming from the Kildare town, Monasterevin and Rathangan area, there was no shortage of demand for the service that gaelscoils provide in the Kildare area.

Gaelscoil Chill Dara, which is on the Green Road, Newbridge, is, he explained, over subscribed, and has been for some years.

Gaelscoil Chill Dara welcomes the development of the new school and wishes it every success, Mr. de Paor added.

Caoimhín ó Heaghra, a representative for an Foras Pátrúnachta, the patron of many of Ireland’s gaelscoils also spoke at the meeting, and explained that with the new school due to open in September, it’s expected that a principal will be appointed by June of this year.

As yet, while several are being considered, no site has been picked for the new school.

The new school will be multi-denominational.


Láithreoirí á lorg ag Raidió na Life

January 29, 2013

Meeting – New Gaelscoil in Tallaght

January 28, 2013

IMPORTANT MEETING re new Gaelscoil opening in Sept. 2013 in FIRHOUSE, 05/02/13 (Tuesday) in Firhouse Community Centre, 7.00pm. Come along to support the new school!

An Foras Pátrúnachta – Facebook

Survey on school patronage

January 28, 2013

Sir, – I am happy to clarify that Alan Whelan’s preferences (January 24th) will be taken into account – along with the views of every other parent of 0-12-year-old children in each town covered by the primary school patronage survey who fills in the survey at www.education.ie.

It is open to either or both parents or guardians using their PPS numbers to complete the survey and to express their preferences regarding choice of school patron.

All preferences expressed by either parent or guardian will be counted and validated. However, t he number and age of children associated with each preference will be validated against the PPS number of the parent or guardian in receipt of child benefit.

I hope more parents will follow Mr Whelan’s lead and take the time to express their preferences on who they wish to see running their primary schools before the closing date of February 8th.

– Yours, etc,
Director of Communications, Department of Education, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.


My wife can vote on school patronage issue, but I can’t

January 28, 2013

Niall Murray’s (Jan 22) news report of Professor Eamonn Conway’s accurate assessment that few parents want a change of school patronage deserves further analysis.

As a parent, who voted in the Killarney survey, I was dismayed to learn from Department officials that my vote would not be counted because it is my wife who receives child benefit.

Only half of parents, those in receipt of child benefit, have a right to vote. I was more dismayed to learn that the Department has concocted a protocol that forbids any formal meetings of parents to debate the merits of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn’s very radical proposals for the Catholic Church to surrender 50% of its schools to other patrons.

I fear that democracy is dead.

Alan Whelan
Beaufort, Co Kerry


Education suffering ‘death by initiative’

January 28, 2013

The quality of primary education is being undermined by reform initiatives from the Department of Education, a school leader has claimed.

Seán Cottrell, director of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), said the system was suffering from “death by initiative”. Over the years, he told delegates to the IPPN conference in Dublin, principals had been bombarded by initiatives.

“It is obvious from their nature that they are ad hoc and reactionary because there is a lack of an overall vision for Irish education.” He said there was a gross imbalance between management capacity in schools and the expectations of the Department of Education.

“To resolve this imbalance, the department must prioritise funding for skilled administrators, provide a minimum of one non-contact day per week for the leadership and management role of teaching principals and reinstate in-school management posts,” he said.

Key strategies He said Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn should adopt three key strategies if he “genuinely wants to make primary education a priority for this Government”: First, no more new initiatives unless schools are provided with the necessary capacity to manage their implementation. “We have superb teachers – allow them teach.”

Second, give principals administrative back-up so they can fulfil their function of leading the quality of learning. Finally, trust principals: give them the resources to run schools and harness their capacity to lead.

Mr Quinn was unable to attend the conference for personal reasons. His address was read by Seán Ó Foghlú, secretary general of the Department of Education.

Mr Ó Foghlú said the latest international rankings indicated Ireland was performing better than most countries, especially in literacy, but there was still “some work to do if we want to join the ranks of the best performing countries in the world. That must be our ambition”.

On school patronage, he said existing patrons, and most notably the Catholic Church, would have six months to respond to the results of parental surveys on their preferred school options, currently under way.

In his address, Mr Cottrell said it was fine to compare standards in different countries. “But let’s also compare t he support schools have …Minister, can you imagine the impact on your department if you lost half of your assistant secretaries, half of your principal officers and half of your advisers?”


Éascaitheoir á lorg le tionscnamh ‘Scéal na Gaeilge’ a fhorbairt

January 28, 2013

Comórtas Díospóireachta Uí Chadhain 2013

January 28, 2013

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