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Early Immersion Campaign Takes Centre Stage At Annual Conference

November 15, 2007

Annual Conference of Gaelscoileanna to hear expert evidence this weekend in Limerick

The world’s leading expert on immersion education, Professor Richard Johnstone from the University of Sterling in Scotland, will deliver the keynote address to the annual education conference and AGM of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta in Limerick this Friday, November 16th.  Caitríona Ruane, MLA, Minister for Education in Northern Ireland will also touch on the heated subject when she delivers a speech on Friday evening on the conference theme of ‘strengthening Irish-medium schooling’.

Earlier this week Gaelscoileanna Teoranta launched a campaign fighting against the decision of the Department of Education and Science in Dublin to end the practice of early immersion education in Irish-medium schools beyond the start of the second term of junior infants.  The ban will start to take effect in some schools in January 2008 unless circular 2007/0044 is withdrawn.  The freedom to practice early immersion education will continue in Gaelscoileanna north of the border.

The conference, the theme of which is ‘Strengthening Irish Medium Schooling’, will be officially opened by Gearóid Ó Conluain, Deputy Chief Inspector at the Department of Education and Science.  Other subjects on the agenda for the two day conference include:

  • the integration of children from non Irish-speaking backgrounds into Irish-medium post-primary schools
  • interculturalism in Irish-medium schools at both primary and post-primary levels
  • language and literacy in Irish-medium primary schools
  • teaching materials and resources for teachers in the Irish-medium schooling sector
  • whole school evaluation and planning

“It is very timely that the conference will take place during the same week as the launch of the organisation’s campaign ‘Tumoideachas – Ár Rogha’ (Immersion Education – Our Choice), said Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive of Gaelscoileanna Teoranta.

“Maintaining  the immersion education system as a system of choice is a key part of providing a continued high standard of education within the ever stronger environment of Irish-medium schooling. Strenuous efforts are being made to raise awareness – among the general public and members of the Oireachtas – of the importance of the early-immersion system.”

“Professor Johnstone and Minister Ruane will provide a fascinating insight into just why early immersion is so important and bolster delegates commitment to fight against it’s being taken away from us. As ever, we look forward to meeting again with teachers, principals, parents, Irish-language and educational organisations over the two-day period.”

GAELSCOILEANNA TEORANTA is the co-ordinating body for schools that teach through Irish.  It helps parents and local groups set up new schools and supports the established Irish-medium schools.


Media wishing to attend the Conference or who would like further information on speakers should contact:

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin                   or                     Rob Hartnett
Chief Executive                                                         Director
Gaelscoileanna Teoranta                                          Hartnett McClure PR
086 8050335                                                           086 3851955
blathnaid@gaelscoileanna.ie rob@hmpr.ie