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Bored Games – cluichí i nGaeilge

March 26, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Minister Quinn secures Cabinet approval for drafting of Admissions to Schools Bill

March 25, 2014

Bill will make the school enrolment process more structured, fair and transparent

The Government has today approved the drafting of the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2014. This new legislation aims to ensure that the enrolment process in all primary and post-primary schools is inclusive, transparent and fair.

A key objective in designing a new regulatory framework for school admissions is to create greater confidence for parents that the criteria laid down by schools for enrolling pupils is consistent, reasonable and applied equitably across the board.

ESRI research shows that the majority of schools, around 80 per cent, admit all the pupils who apply for enrolment. In these cases, the new regulatory framework will have a marginal impact.

Where the new Bill will play an important role is in the 20 per cent of schools where there is over-subscription.

Minister Quinn said, “The aim of this new Bill is to inspire the same levels of confidence in the enrolment of pupils in schools as the CAO system inspires for those who are applying for limited places in third level colleges.”

“I believe that the vast majority of our schools are inclusive and welcoming places. The Admissions to Schools Bill will provide an over-arching framework to ensure that how schools decide on who is enrolled and who is refused a place in schools is more structured, fair and transparent.”

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection recently published its report on the Draft General Scheme; this followed public hearings at the committee involving parents and education partners among others. The recommendations from the Committee will be considered further in the context of the drafting of the Bill.

Among the provisions in the new Bill, will be a requirement for all schools to make an explicit statement in their admissions policy that they will not discriminate against an applicant for admission on the grounds of disability, special education needs, sexual orientation, family status, membership of the traveller community or race.

The Bill will also enable the National Council for Special Education in respect of children with special educational needs and the Child and Family Agency in respect of other children to designate a place for a child for whom no school place is available.


Garry Kasparov’s visit to Ireland, March 28th-30th, 2014

March 25, 2014

In October 2013 Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for President of FIDE (Fédération Internationale des échecs or World Chess Federation). He plans to unseat 18-year incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, from Kalmykia, in the election that takes place in August 2014 during the Tromsø Chess Olympiad. To this end, the Irish Chess Union is proud to host Garry Kasparov on this historic two-day visit to Dublin from March 28th. Mr. Kasparov’s visit shall be focused on meeting Ireland and delegates from neighbouring countries to whom he will give details of his presidential programme as well as listening to issues from their home countries. He will also meet Ireland’s chess playing school children and a special meeting of Ireland’s finest and most dedicated chess enthusiasts.

During his visit he will greet chess playing children from Gaelscoileanna throughout Leinster for the annual Comórtas Fichille Cúige Laighean which will be held in the Mansion House on Friday, March 28th. During this tournament some of our young junior stars will be honoured. These are the under 12 Bernadette Stokes team who came home triumphant from the annual 4 Nations chess tournament last summer (Ireland, England, Scotland, & Wales); 13 year old Diana Mirza, Irish Women’s chess champion; 8 year old Daniel Dwyer, Bunratty Minors Champion and 8 year old Admira Kecskemeti, under 12 chess champion of Northern Ireland.

An Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore will attend, as will the Deputy Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey to honour chess playing children. This event will be entirely in Irish and we certainly hope for a few “foclaí” from Mr. Kasparov. Irish and Russian will be the only languages spoken in the Mansion House during this event. Fiachra Scannan and Daniel Dwyer will speak in Irish and Russian on behalf of the children. The secretary general of the ECU, Sava Stoisavljevic will meet the FIDE Delegates to discuss their involvement in European chess. Jan Callewaert (Belgium), president of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, Europe and a candidate as FIDE Deputy President in Kasparov’s ticket will also attend.

Garry Kasparov’s vision: “to elevate the game of chess from grassroots level; to spread the game in education as a cultural touchstone as well as a successful commercial sport.”

Pupils from Gaelscoil Bhun Cranncha feature in Tourism Ireland video with Col. Chris Hadfield

March 25, 2014

Watch the video here!

John Spillane páirteach sa cheiliúradh i nGaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn

March 25, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Réiteach geallta ar cheist na méanscolaíochta i nDoire

March 25, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Location, location, location

March 25, 2014

The school run could be minimised and fitness improved if new schools weren’t built in the wrong places.

Given his training as an architect, the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn was bound to raise the profile of school design, as indeed he has done with architectural competitions for both primary and post-primary schools. But what if some of these fine new schools end up being built in the wrong places?

Far too often, sites are chosen for new schools with only scant consideration for how pupils are going to travel to and from these inspiring centres of learning. Will it be possible for them to walk or cycle – getting some useful exercise on the way – or will they have to be dropped off and collected by car? A key underlying issue in all of this is the rise in obesity among children and the importance of having well-located schools to help reverse this trend. All the research shows that factoring in the opportunity to walk or cycle to and from school is the best way to ensure a “floor level” of daily exercise.

But An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, has found that a “significant proportion” of the school projects that cross its desk are not addressing the official guidance on school travel issued by the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority (NTA). The Department of Education’s technical guidance document on site selection for new schools stresses the need for “safe access for all” and says “all traffic management and mobility issues should be considered during site identification and assessment” – in other words before a school site is chosen.

“This will include appropriate provision for school buses, pedestrian and bicycle access, staff and visitor parking, car set-down and pick-up provision. The site should accommodate, where possible, approaches from a number of directions to facilitate and promote diversity of modes of transport,” it says. The Department of Transport’s Smarter Travel programme pledges that schools and other community facilities would be accessible primarily by walking, cycling and publc transport. And the NTA’s Toolkit for School Travel seeks to reduce the number of children being chauffeured to school by car.

Given that the “school run” aggravates traffic congestion, many local authorities have similar policies. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council says: “School provision should be an integral part of the evolution of compact sustainable urban development where the opportunities to walk or cycle to school are maximised.” Yet the same council approved plans for a new Gaelscoil for the Ballyogan-Stepaside area, to be built on a relatively remote site that actually lies outside the catchment area it’s intended to serve. According to two parents of prospective pupils, this would result in children having to be driven to and from school every day.

In an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the council’s decision, Brian Leeson and Helen O’Leary estimated that the additional private car trip demand generated by the 16-classroom school “may well exceed 220,000 trips” per year, with some parents doing two 14km round-trips per day, or 5,600km per year.

They say this “flies in the face” of the Smarter Travel programme as well as Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s policy that new schools should be located “close to the areas of greatest residential expansion,” in this case, “clusters of high-density ‘Celtic-Tiger’ era housing developments” in Ballyogan-Stepaside.

At present, Gaelscoil Sliabh Rua is housed in pre-fab buildings in Kiltiernan, to which most pupils are driven by car. But Leeson and O’Leary say relocating it to Carrickmines contradicts the council’s policy “to reduce reliance on car-based travel and to ensure more sustainable patterns of travel, transportation and development”.

A “mobility management plan” to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport has been drawn up for the relocated school. But the appellants say these options wouldn’t work for most children and the plan included one bus route that “ceased operation in 2009 and another bus route that does not serve the feeder area”. However, a spokeswoman for the county council insists that the site, which the council owned and was now providing for Gaelscoil Sliabh Rua, “while not at the heart of Stepaside, has good pedestrian, cycle and public transport access. It is also adjacent to existing homes and adjoining a major proposed public recreational facility.”

She notes that the catchment area extends from Rathfarnham to Ballyogan Avenue, with the “vast bulk” of junior infants coming from an area south of the M50 corridor, centred on Ballyogan, Belarmine and Kilgobbin. “The actual school site lies only 150m outside the defined catchment but very close to these clusters”. Given that Gaelscoileanna are bound to have larger catchment areas than standard primary schools, one might expect the department to have a “sustainable travel” policy geared towards their needs. But it doesn’t. Rural children have their school buses, but urban children must depend on public transport – or their parents’ cars.

Another Gaelscoil in Co Wicklow is facing a very disruptive move that could also result in children having to be driven to school by car. Gaelscoil an Inbhir Mhóir has been operating for 15 years on a temporary site to the south of Arklow, Co Wicklow, in the midst of new suburbs built during the boom period.

The Department of Education now proposes to relocate the school to a permanent site north of the town, some 4.5km away, even though more than 86 per cent of the families with children being educated there actually live on the south side. Thus, almost none of them are likely to walk or cycle to school. Such “smarter travel” options wouldn’t be feasible because of the distance involved, the fact that the road approach to the school has no pavements or cycle paths and the only viable route from the south to the north side is congested, incorporating a busy bridge dangerous for cyclists, according to one parent, Conall O’Connor.

“Parents, teachers and the school board have overwhelmingly voted to reject this proposed move on account of the accessibility issues and intend to actively resist it,” says O’Connor. “Needless to say, there was no consultation with any of these stakeholders.” There’s another row in Co Limerick over plans to relocate Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, with a projected 1,000 post-primary students, to an unzoned site, beyond the village’s development boundary and with “clear deficiencies in terms of footpaths, lighting, drainage and road infrastructure,” according to An Taisce.

Limerick Co Council, which is now considering the proposal, has a policy that schools should be built “in tandem with residential development [and] located where possible, in close proximity to other community services, and accessible by various modes of transport and have regard to the principles of social integration”.

The existing school on a six-acre site in Croom would be replaced by the proposed new school on a 20-acre site at Skagh. The principal, Noel Malone, has said that it “just wouldn’t work” to extend the existing premises: “For a school of 1,000, I don’t think that you could put a bottleneck [such as this] in the middle of a fairly built-up area.”

An Taisce maintains that the board of management has “not provided any evidence that the current site is not suitable” for expansion, rather than opting for a location 1.5km away in a “rural, unzoned area with no services”, based on a mobility management plan which it describes as “deficient” and warns of an appeal if it’s approved.

Niall Cussen, senior planner in the Department of the Environment, said some of these site selection problems had arisen “as we move from essentially an emergency response to a schools accommodation crisis to a more integrated plan-driven approach”.

A new manual on sustainable travel, due out soon from the Department of the Environment, should help to clarify matters.


Irish and ‘language snobs’

March 25, 2014

Sir, – Brian Ó Broin (Letters, March 22nd) suggests that the target of 250,000 Irish speakers by 2030 is an achievable one, but only “if non-Gaeltacht Irish speakers begin to shoulder the burden that Gaeltacht people have been predominantly carrying since the foundation of the State – using the language at home”.

How strange to think that speaking to one’s family in what is considered to be one’s native tongue should be termed a burden. Communicating in either one’s first or second language at home should be (largely) a pleasure, not a burden; and I would imagine that for the vast majority of Irish-speakers it is.

If indeed the Irish language is such a heavy load to carry, then it should be ditched without delay. A language that is a burden is worthless.

Yours, etc,
Co Tipperary

Sir, – An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, does not advance his cause by using the slur “linguistic Darwinists” (Opinion & Analysis, March 24th). The survival of the 2,000-year-old Irish language is a tribute to its evolution, not a refutation of it.

Yours, etc,
Cnoc an Stollaire,
Gaoth Dobhair,
Co Donegal


WorldWise Global Schools – 2014 Grant Call

March 24, 2014

Irish Aid’s WorldWise Global Schools is inviting applications for funding to support post-primary development education initiatives in the upcoming academic year (September 2014 – May 2015).

What is Development Education?

Development education is an educational process aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the rapidly changing, interdependent and unequal world in which we live. WorldWise Global Schools seeks to increase the engagement of students and teachers with development education by providing funding and support to post-primary schools, school networks and NGOs who work with schools to integrate a global justice and development dimension though curricular and extracurricular activities. Further details of our programme can be found online at www.worldwiseschools.ie and support in Irish is available to participating schools.

2014 Grant Call

If your organisation or a school you work with is interested in applying for a 2014-2015 annual grant, please register for an application at www.worldwiseschools.ie/funding. You may also register by calling 01 6852078 or by emailing info@worldwiseschools.ie. Note that the deadline for receipt of applications is 16 April 2014.

WWGS Grant Call Flyer 2014

Gael Champa 2014

March 24, 2014

Gael-Champa is a summer sports camp as Gaeilge, providing cultural, educational and sporting activities for children through the medium of Irish!

The camp caters for children from English speaking schools as well as Gaelscoileanna. Activities include Gaelic football, hurling, rugby, volleyball, soccer, basketball, swimming, drama, céilí dance and much more.

Gael-Champa is back this summer! Secure your place online at ;


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