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Gaelscoileanna Teo. Disappointed That No New Irish-Medium Schools Will Open In 2010

February 16, 2010

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., the representative body for 140 Irish-medium primary schools, has expressed huge disappointment with the decision announced today by the Department of Education and Science on the establishment of new schools in 2010. There were 9 key regions identified in the Department’s Primary Provision plan in which new schools were to open in 2010. It was announced today that schools will open in just 7 of those regions and there are no Irish-medium schools among the 7 new schools planned, despite a very well-supported application from a Gaelscoil founding committee in Ratoath, Co. Meath. No recognition was given either to the seven other founding committees who applied to the Department to establish Irish-medium schools in their area in 2010, before the Department had identified the nine key areas on which their Primary Provision plan would focus.

This decision by the Department of Education and Science breaches parents’ constitutional right to education for their children, and the state’s obligation to protect and nurture the Irish language.

Last year, the Minister for Education abolished the system whereby schools could be established independently. Until then, GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. and other patron-based schools could seek initial recognition with 17 children and full recognition after three years so long as the school had 51 pupils. This system recognised how schools grow as a part of their community, and the important role that a school plays in community development. The numbers were pitched at a level of sustainability; not a single Gaelscoil has ever closed due to falling numbers and no Gaelscoil has ever been established without a strong campaign of support from the local community and school parents. Now schools are to be established by the Department which do not facilitate the demand in the local area, and it seems that parents’ choice does not feature in the Department’s plan. Irish-medium schools are oversubscribed and turning children away, and even though there is a proven demand for Irish-medium education in the areas in which the seven gaelscoil founding committees are currently running campaigns, none will be allowed to open a school in 2010.

Education at its best is borne of the community and supported through the willingness of parents to play a part in schools’ establishment, management, philosophy and funding. This support is nurtured through the patron system and this most effective method of shaping our children’s futures should not be questioned on purely economic grounds. Furthermore, the minister’s decision not to open any new Irish-medium schools in 2010 contradicts the Government’s own commitment to support and nurture Irish-medium education, as outlined in their visionary plan A Twenty-Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.  is seeking further clarification from the Department of Education of the decision criteria for the 2010 Primary Provision plan, and the organisation will continue its campaign to make Irish-medium education available to all children in Ireland.


Further information:

Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive Officer – GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.

01 4773155 or 086 8050335

Mícheál Ó Broin, President, GAELSCOILEANNA TEO.