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Longford principal lands plum job

March 21, 2017

Gaelscoil Longfoirt principal Yvonne Ní Mhurchú has told of her “great honour” at being elected president of a leading educational body for Irish language speaking schools.

Ms Ní Mhurchú was elevated to the top table of national Irish organisation Gaelscoileanna Teo, the national co-ordinating body for schools teaching through the medium of Irish, following a recently held meeting in Kilkenny.

In her new position, the Newtownforbes mother of one is already revelling in her role in representing more than 300 primary schools and 70 secondary schools currently providing education through the medium of Irish both inside and outside Gaeltacht areas.

“It is an honour and a very big honour to be appointed,” she said.Asked what may have prompted her appointment, Ms Ni Mhurchú pointed to her near two decade long association with Gaelscoil Longfoirt, a period which has seen it grow from around 20 students to the 200 strong facility it is today.

“I suppose I have been there and know all about the building blocks that’s needed to build up a school,” she said, while stressing Gaelscoileanna Teo was also recognised as an educational partner with the Department of Education.

“Having been there and experienced all of that I believe I am well placed to offer advice to other schools and represent them at national level.”


(Gaeilge) €600 ar fáil do scoileanna le teaghlaigh a spreagadh chun níos mó Gaeilge a labhairt sa mbaile.

March 21, 2017


Dead or alive? New campaign tackles Irish language myths

March 16, 2017

List of ‘alternative facts’ includes claims language is dead and Gaelscoileanna are élitist

The Irish language is dead, Gaelscoileanna are elitist and Ireland would be socially conservative if we spoke Irish.

These are some of the assumptions challenged by a new campaign designed to debunk misconceptions surrounding the language.

Called Mythbusting, the campaign comprises a series of 10 videos and talks organised around the country by Colm Ó Broin, an Irish speaker and Conradh na Gaeilge member from Clondalkin.

Mr Ó Broin said he felt compelled to challenge these claims as as they arise whenever an article on the Irish language appears in the media.

The video series is being launched on Thursday to coincide with Lá na Meáin Sóisialta, a Seachtain na Gaeilge initiative encouraging the use of Irish and the use of hashtag #LNMS17 on social media.

The first myth tackled is the claim that Irish is a dead language. Mr Ó Broin says research data and census figures point to the exact opposite. “In terms of fluency, the Irish Language Survey carried out by Amárach Research in 2013 showed that almost 500,000 people across Ireland can have a conversation in Irish and another 150,000 have “native speaker fluency.”

“Even this figure would give Irish more fluent speakers than most languages in the world”.


The debate surrounding the Irish language renders the provision of bilingual education a hot topic, and while the ever-increasing demand for education through Irish continues to go unmet there are still critics who claim that such schools are elitist.

Pointing out that more than half of the primary-level Gaelscoileanna in Dublin and Belfast are situated in working-class areas, Mr Ó Broin says children from every social class in Ireland attend Irish-medium schools.

He contests the claim there is a racist motive behind the decision by parents to send their children to Irish medium schools.

“While there may be some parents who have this motivation – to stereotype all Gaelscoil parents as racists because of the actions of a few is prejudiced in itself.”

“Irish-medium education is available and welcoming to children from all backgrounds,” he adds.

For those who believe it is irrelevant in modern society and that Irish would make the country too insular, Mr Ó Broin says: “By this logic, more than 180 countries in the world would also be insular as they don’t speak English as their first language.

“Speaking Irish doesn’t mean you can’t speak English or any other language to interact with people from other countries. In fact, studies have shown that learning a second language increases tolerance.”

The next Mythbusting talk takes place on March 21st at 8pm in Gorey Library, Co Wexford. Other talks are planned for Galway on March 31st, Belfast on April 22nd and Derry on May 13th.

The following ‘alternative facts’ are addressed as part of the campaign:

1 “Irish is a dead language”

2 “Irish has taken lots of words from English”

3 “Ireland would be poor if we spoke Irish”

4 “Gaelscoileanna and other Irish-speaking schools are elitist”

5 “Ireland would be insular if we spoke Irish”

6 “Ireland would be socially conservative if we spoke Irish”

7 “The Irish language has been ‘politicised’”

8 “Irish shouldn’t be an official EU language”

9 “The pronunciation of Irish names makes no sense”

10 “Irish isn’t compatible with modern technology”

Físeán anseo/ Video here: https://youtu.be/XCEjILUJvFc


(Gaeilge) An dara siollabas Gaeilge don Teastas Sóisearach faofa ag an Aire Oideachais

March 15, 2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

New ambitious targets for Literacy and Numeracy set by Minister Bruton

March 15, 2017

Targeted improvements in Maths and reading for all schools – 50% of sixth class pupils to perform at the highest levels in reading and Maths by 2020

Increase by 42% the number of 6th class pupils in disadvantaged primary schools performing at the highest levels in Maths

Particular focus on numeracy and digital skills

The Minister for Education & Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton, TD, today published new, updated ambitious targets for numeracy and literacy in our schools, as part of the drive to achieve the best education service in Europe within a decade.

The Report published today shows that all of the targets set for reading and maths at primary level in the 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy were reached and significant progress has been made towards achievement of the targets at post-primary. These results are confirmed by recent strong results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) (see below).

While recent trends are encouraging, it is clear that there is still room for improvement, in particular in Maths, and the updated targets set a particular focus on numeracy. For this reason, the new targets set by Minister Bruton are particularly ambitious in the numeracy area. The Action Plan for Education, which has the overall aim of making Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade, outlines a series of ambitious actions to further improve our performance in maths, including: introducing coding and computer science throughout the school curriculum; a comprehensive National Policy Statement on STEM Education in schools; and ambitious new measures to upskill maths teachers.

Minister Bruton has set out that tackling educational disadvantage will be a key priority during his Ministry. For this reason, Minister Bruton has for the first time set specific targets for literacy and numeracy within disadvantaged schools as part of this strategy. Such targets were not included in the original strategy published in 2011. For example, we have set a target to increase the number of pupils in DEIS Band 1 urban primary schools performing at the highest levels in Maths at sixth class by 2020, by 42%. This is underpinned by the publication of the DEIS Plan 2017 by the Minister, which will see €15m extra being invested to tackle educational disadvantage each year.

There will also be an increased emphasis on higher-achieving students and on embedding achievements in literacy, in particular literacy for and through the Irish language, and also on enhancing the digital literacy skills of our learners.

Priority actions included in the plan include:

  • Prioritising the development of maths curricula at primary and post-primary, including the redevelopment of the primary maths curriculum, encompassing the introduction of computational and creative thinking skills and coding.
  • The Professional Development Service for Teachers refining its literacy and numeracy supports for teachers.
  • Reviewing the time allocation for maths at primary to ensure that the allocation reflects learners’ requirements.
  • Implementation of new curricula in Irish at both primary and post-primary, which aim to improve Irish as Language 1 in Irish medium schools and Irish as Language 2 in English medium schools.
  • Supporting ECCE practitioners and teachers in Early Start centres with comprehensive implementation of the Aistear curriculum framework, in particular development of early literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Support for the transitions between educational settings, e.g. the move from early years settings to primary schools, by developing reporting templates-for use by ECCE practitioners, schools and parents-based on research and trialling.
  • Carrying out research on creative and innovative ways to support parents in their role as educators.

Minister Bruton said:

“Being able to read, write and do so effectively are key skills which every young person leaving school should have if they are to achieve their full potential.”

“While we are performing very well in reading, there is room for improvement in maths. The Action Plan for Education, which has the overall aim of making Ireland the best education service in Europe within a decade, outlines a series of ambitious actions to further improve our performance so as to significantly reduce the gap with the top European performers in maths and science in particular. We will be developing a new maths curriculum at primary, including computational thinking, creative thinking skills and coding, and reviewing the structure and time allocation of the primary maths curriculum, as a whole. We will adopt a STEM Education Policy Statement, and ambitious new measures to upskill maths teachers. The Digital Strategy for Schools and the investment of €210m over its lifetime will also be a major factor in implementing change.”

“Every child has to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their circumstances. Education has a unique capacity to break down the cycles of disadvantage. Our recently published DEIS Plan aims to increase the outcomes for students in more disadvantaged schools. I want, for example, to see an increase of 42% in the number of pupils in disadvantaged urban primary schools performing at the highest levels in maths at sixth class by 2020.”

“The Report shows the significant progress that has been made since 2011. Everyone should be very proud of what has been achieved to date.  A huge part of this success is due to the commitment of ECCE practitioners, teachers and school leaders, parents and school managers, staff in support services of various types, teacher educators, a range of other bodies, agencies and organisations, and especially the young people who have worked so hard to enhance their literacy and numeracy skills.”

“I believe the new and updated targets set, and the actions identified within this Report will enable us to focus on achieving the best results for our learners – and ultimately ensuring that every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential in life.”



The Review, with new and updated targets, is available at:

– See more at: http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2017-Press-Releases/PR17-03-14.html#sthash.UEtiuRiC.dpuf

Irish-language schools conference to look at impact of `nurture’ groups

March 15, 2017

IRISH-language educators from north and south will gather this week to examine issues including the experience of the `nurture’ approach to schooling.

Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the representative body for Irish-medium education in the north, will hold its annual conference on Thursday in An Carn, Maghera.

It is expected to attract delegates from schools across Ireland as well as representatives from Irish language, educational and cultural bodies.

Speakers will contribute on various subjects including new electronic resources for Irish-medium education and the Irish-medium experience of the nurture approach.

Nurture groups work to improve social, emotional and behavioural outcomes among children from some of the most deprived areas.

Scoil an Droichid in south Belfast and Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin in the north of the city started operating nurture groups last September.

The concept has been widely developed across the UK to address identified behavioural needs within schools, offering a safe and welcoming environment to promote learning and positive behaviours.

They are recognised as playing a key role in tackling under-achievement early in a child’s life by providing targeted support.

Hundreds of children – from P1 to P3 – benefit from extra help in special facilities that are typically equipped with kitchens, sofas, and quiet rooms.

The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen’s University Belfast last year published a report into the impact of the units in primary schools.

It found clear evidence that nurture group provision was “highly successful in its primary aim of achieving improvements in the social, emotional and behavioural skills of children from deprived areas exhibiting significant difficulties”.

Also due to speak at An Carn is Feargal Mac Bhloscaidh from Coláiste Feirste, who will present on extended writing, and Seán Fennel from Gaelscoil na bhFál who will deliver a workshop on language support at Key Stage 2.

In addition, Tracey McGovern from Middletown Centre for Autism will address pressing questions around special educational needs (SEN), and two newly-formed Irish-medium SEN cluster-groups will lead a session for SEN coordinators.


Why one of Ireland’s most famous schools is going Gaelscoil

March 14, 2017

Synge Street in Dublin 8 is turning to the Irish language to restore pupil numbers

t’s one of Ireland’s best-known schools, with an impressive roll call of past pupils such as Gay Byrne, Eddie Jordan, Eamonn Andrews and former president, Cearbhail Ó Dálaigh. It’s such a part of Irish culture, it even had a hit movie made about it.

Now the primary school of Dublin’s Synge Street is going gaelscoil – because all-Irish schools are what parents of children in the city centre want most.

Currently, Synge Street primary is an all-boys Catholic school that accepts children from second class up to sixth class.

But from September, it will introduce a new stream of co-ed pupils, starting at junior infants level, with pupils learning only through Irish.

This gaelscoil stream – or “sruth” – of boys and girls will run alongside, but separate from, the boys-only classes learning through English.

But the classes will be divided, even at break-times, to ensure the Irish-language students get full immersion in the language.

Principal Gerard Mooney says the introduction of the Irish stream is a unique development – Synge Street is the first school Ireland to do it.

He explains that the idea came about due to a combination of dramatic depopulation in Dublin city centre, combined with increased demand for all-Irish education.

“We’re taking an infant class this year for the first time, and they will learn through Irish. This is a unique approach in Ireland.

Inner city depopulation

“Depopulation in the south inner city has resulted in a significant drop in school numbers.

“One-third of our school population was from local areas that have been savagely depopulated and there are no plans to rebuild or regenerate. Prohibitively high rents have driven a lot of families out of the area.

“The demographic completely changed, due to the cost of houses and rent increases. It is very unfair on families.”

Synge Street primary – Sancta Maria – is a Catholic school that is part of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. One of the tenets of its ethos is to reach out to needs in the community.

Mooney says the introduction of the sruth is in keeping with that principle.

“We are responding to the needs of the community. There are many parents in the area who want to educate their children through the medium of Irish, but the local gaelscoileanna in Harold’s Cross and Ranelagh were over-subscribed and they were disappointed.

“We did the research and found there was a significant need for a gaelscoil and we said: Let’s try this.”

With gaelscoileanna regarded as the school of choice for the elite, is the development a sign of changing times in the “city end” of Dublin 8?

Catchment areas like Portobello and the Tenters are increasingly middle-class enclaves.

Only high-earning couples with children can afford to live there. Is this what’s driving the change?

Mixed school

Mooney is aware it is a factor – but says what local parents really wanted was a mixed school that started at junior infant level.

Synge Street primary had been hand-tied by traditional church rules that meant the boys started only from second class onwards.

Prior to second class, pupils attend local convents for junior school up to first class, and then switch over to Synge Street.

But many parents were averse to the idea of moving kids from one school to another once they’d got settled. Others aren’t keen on single-sex education.

The middle-class preference for their little ones to be educated as gaeilge is just one aspect.

Mooney says of the driving force: “Every society has its microcosms. I’d say it’s 50/50. Half was those who wanted a gaelscoil and half who wanted a mixed school starting from junior infants.

“We had been restricted by the second- to sixth-class model that history and politics dictated, and we had to change the status of the school [to introduce the gaelscoil stream].

“There is a sense of resurgence of national identity, and the 1916 centenary had a big influence. It has broadened into a pride of language and has cast off some of our old attitudes. Parents want their children to be aware of their cultural heritage.

Cognitive ability

“The bonus of learning a second language early on is that it bumps up cognitive ability. People are prepared to go the extra mile for their children to have a good education.”

When the new junior infants arrive at Synge Street gates for the first time this September, it will be the result of Trojan work by Principal Mooney and the school.

“We are two years now getting to the point where we can offer this new stream to parents.

“First, I had to convince the Archbishop [Diarmuid Martin] and he supported us when he saw there was a crying need for branching out, while also supporting the needs of parents.

“Then we had to convince the Department of Education. We’re making the conversions and putting the facilities for it in place now.”

The maximum number of students in a class is 28, and with just over a month left until enrolment closes, the gaelscoil class is almost full.

Meanwhile in Synge Street boys-only primary, there is an average of only 12 boys per year.

Once one of the biggest schools on the city’s south side, the school, founded in 1864, educated broadcaster Mike Murphy, actor David Kelly, writer Flann O’Brien, oncologist John Crown and politician Liam Cosgrave.

There are now 60 students in the primary school, where in decades past, there were hundreds.


Dublin director John Carney’s film about Synge Street – a high-school comedy musical called Sing Street – put the school on the map internationally when it was released last year.

It featured Aiden Gillen and Jack Reynor, as well as newcomers Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Lucy Boynton.

It was a feel-good fictitious tale that was part-based on Carney’s time as a student in the secondary school back in the 1980s.

The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and portrayed Synge Street as a school where the kids were rough and the teachers were even rougher.

So: was it a good thing or a bad thing for the historic Christian Brothers school, which is over 150 years old?

The primary school principal Gerard Mooney takes it for what it is – a Hollywood version of reality.

Facts vs film

“It was grand, it was good craic. People have to understand that you must allow for licence. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” says Mooney.

“You just suspend disbelief and enjoy it as it is. There is a good part of the movie that is cultural memory and cultural stereotype.

“I see the men here retired and living in the house beside us and they are a different body of men you see personified in the movie.

“But it was good, we were delighted with it – and it’s an honour to have our very own movie. Mount Temple, where U2 went, didn’t get a movie – but Synge Street did!”


(Gaeilge) Iarrtha ag COGG ar an Roinn Oideachais gan an dara siollabas Gaeilge don Teastas Sóisearach a thabhairt isteach i mbliana

March 10, 2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Newbridge Gaelscoil choir raise €3,000 for Jack and Jill

March 8, 2017

The Newbridge Gaelscoil Chill Dara have raised a fantastic €3,000 for the Jack and Jill Foundations from the proceeds of their CD.

The choir, which is based at the school on the Green Road, was delighted to present Hugo Jellett, CEO of the Jack and Jill foundation with the cheque last week.

The funds were raised by the children of Gael Scoil Chill Dara as part of their social entrepreneurship endeavours: children helping children.

Part-funded by a recording bursary from Kildare County Arts Service, and drawing on the additional talents of some of Kildare’s best loved musicians, the school choir recorded an Irish-language CD, “Ding Dong Dedero”, on behalf of Jack and Jill.

The CD features some of the most famous Irish songs and music, performed by The Nás na Rí Singers, In Caelo choir, Frankie Lane, Conor Mahony, Ruth O’Hara as well as almost every pupil from Gael Scoil Chill Dara, and the school choir.

The first tranche of CDs raised €3,000 during December 2016. The CD will be on sale again in December 2017, but is currently available from the office at Gael Scoil Chill Dara, to celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge and St Patrick’s Day.

The choir of Gael Scoil Chill Dara was founded in November 2014 and has sung with the Dublin Gospel Choir. It took first place in the Irish language choral class at the Kilkenny Music Festival 2016, and performs frequently during the school year.

The Jack and Jill Foundation is Ireland’s only charity specialising in providing home-nursing care to brain injured children across Ireland, including more than a dozen in Co Kildare at this moment.

The money raised by the CD project will fund almost two hundred hours of respite home-nursing care for some of Ireland’s sickest children.

All-Irish schools to get separate courses

March 8, 2017

Revamped junior cycle syllabus for schools with fluent speakers

A radical change in the teaching of Irish at junior cycle will see the roll-out of a separate syllabus for students in all-Irish schools from September.

For the first time, pupils in Gaeltacht and other Irish-medium schools will study the native language at a deeper level than those in other schools.

The two new programmes for Irish will be introduced for first years in September, as part of the phasing-in of junior cycle reforms. Both will be taught at higher and ordinary level.

The move to have two separate syllabi follows concerns raised by Irish language organisations about serving the needs of native speakers, or other students who are proficient, or aspire to a high proficiency, in Gaeilge.

It also sits with the Policy on Gaeltacht Education, published by the Department of Education last year. This was the first comprehensive strategy for education in Irish-speaking communities since the establishment of the State.

The strategy aims to ensure the availability of a high-quality Irish-medium educational experience for young people living in Gaeltacht areas and to foster Irish-language proficiency in the wider Gaeltacht community.

The change at junior cycle means that similar consideration will have to be given to having separate programmes in Irish for Irish-medium schools and English-medium schools for Leaving Cert students.

Government education advisers, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), have signed off on the new syllabi and have sent them to Education Minister Richard Bruton for final approval.

The programme aimed at English-medium schools, known as L2, is for students who use Irish as a second language and for whom the Irish class is their main engagement with Gaeilge.

The other syllabus, known as L1, is for both learners and native speakers of Irish in Gaeltacht schools and students in Irish-medium schools or all-Irish units within English-medium schools.

It is targeted at students who use the language on a daily basis, whether at home, school or in the community, and already have well-developed skills in the native tongue.

Apart from promoting richer language and vocabulary, this syllabus will have a greater focus on cultural awareness and topics such as language patterns and differentiation between dialects.

According to the NCCA, the provision of enriched language-learning experiences for all students, particularly those who are native speakers of Irish, is of utmost importance.

The hope is that the higher levels of skill and understanding developed through the L1 syllabus will support Irish speakers to take advantage of opportunities for language use in the community and play an active part in Gaeltacht life.

While the two syllabi were drawn up to meet the needs of different sectors, schools will have the option of offering both, if there is demand.

Work on the two syllabi began after the standard NCCA consultation on a proposed new syllabus for junior cycle Irish in 2015.

Serious concerns were raised about the capacity of a single syllabus to meet the needs of students of widely varying levels of proficiency and competence in the language.

In one survey, 60pc of those who replied through the English version felt that a single syllabus was adequate.

In contrast, 64pc of those who replied on the Gaeilge version disagreed.

The strong feelings led to an extension of the consultation and a forum to explore how best to address the issue, which, in turn, prompted the development of the two separate syllabi.

Irish Independent

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