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Gaelscoileanna Teo. Ready To Listen To Minister And Plan For The Future

November 12, 2008


Minister O’Keeffe to address Annual Conference of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. on Friday


Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keefe will address the annual education conference and AGM of GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. in Bettystown this Friday, November 14th 2008. 


He is expected to cover areas including the effect of budget cuts, the ongoing dispute over the teaching of Irish through total early immersion and the question marks thrown up recently over new school recognition.


"We are pleased that the Minister has agreed to open our conference and heartened by his willingness to engage in dialogue with those who represent those most affected by decisions taken within his department over the past twelve months", said GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. President, Mícheál Ó Broin.


"While the gaelscoileanna movement has gone from strength to strength in the past twelve months, there have been difficult times as well.  Parents and teachers are concerned particularly by the cuts in education spending, the lack of progress on research into the benefits of total early immersion education and the difficulties caused by a premature announcement on the recognition of new schools."


"We will of course provide a hospitable welcome to the Minister but we will also leave him clear in our view that the cuts in education announced in the budget are an inexplicable and short sighted move that we, together with all education partners, are continuing to urge the government to reconsider."


"Over the past years we have struggled for every small victory in reducing class sizes.  This is crucial to the effective education of a child and is a barometer of just how seriously a society values the education of its next generation.  Now we risk having all those gains swept away.  We already have one of the worst pupil teacher ratios in Europe.  Government has long claimed to recognise this as unacceptable but has now acted to make a bad situation worse."


"We are very concerned about the Minister’s announcement on school recognition and the implications for the founding committees that are working diligently towards opening in 2009.   It is a basic parental right to choose the kind of education their children should have and it is no accident that every gaelscoil that has opened since the foundation of the state remains open and popular today.  Schools that grow from within a committed community, and which operate wholly within the national curriculum must be supported.  We look forward to hearing directly from the Minister what measures are being taken to ensure the future of these new schools. "


The conference, the theme of which is ‘Fostering an Irish Language Community’, will include presentations on:


  • cultivating an Irish speaking community outside of the classroom


  • the importance of reaching out to different cultures and presenting bilingual education as a benchmark for inter-culturalism


  • the approach to special needs teaching at both primary and post-primary levels


The keynote address will be on ‘Advantages in Bilingualism and International best practice models’, given by Colin Baker, Professor of Education and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University.


"Professor Baker is one of the world’s leading authorities on bilingual education", added Ó Broin.  "He will outline how other countries have approached the issue and how the practice of total early immersion supported within Ireland is held up as a model of best practice.  His experience will doubtless further strengthen our resolve to fight for the right to continue total early immersion as an option in our schools, and to oppose department plans to disallow it in our schools."


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. will also publish its Strategic Plan for the next three years, part of a programme which anticipates the establishment of 26 new primary and 10 new secondary Irish medium schools over the next five years.


GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. 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 at the Bettystown Court Hotel, Bettystown Co. Meath on Friday 14th November or who would like further information should contact:

Mícheál Ó Broin, Uachtarán GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., 087-9467700

Rob Hartnett

Director, Hartnett McClure PR on 086 3851955