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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.