Méid an Téacs

Gaelscoil Sheoirse pupils give Sherry and Ronan a serious grilling

Bealtaine 2, 2014

Munster stars Mike Sherry and Niall Ronan, along with Munster development officer Ken O’Connell, recently visited some very excited fifth and sixth-class of students in Gaelscoil Sheoirse Clancy, Southill, Limerick.

The players were in the school to be interviewed by a group of students studying physical health.

The students and their teacher, John Copely, are taking part in a Negotiated Integrated Curriculum (NIC) initiative run by a team from the University of Limerick in collaboration with the Limerick Diocesan office and the NCCA.

NIC involves teachers and students rewriting the curriculum collaboratively in response to their concerns through classroom practice. Put simply, NIC involves the students having a say in what they wish to learn about and how they will learn in a curriculum initially devised from their life concerns, all the while adhering to syllabus standards.

The students chose to learn about physical, emotional and mental health. Students came up with questions they had about health and then decided on learning activities to pursue in order to find out the information they needed to answer these questions.

After conducting internet, newspaper, magazine and book research, the students suggested interviewing professionals in the field of health – and what better experts to answer questions on the subject than two Munster rugby players?

The students spent a lot of time coming up with and refining 12 interview questions around the topic of physical health, and Niall and Mike answered each one expertly, offering excellent advice to the students about eating habits and the importance of exercise to maintain good physical health.

Niall and Mike put so much thought into each answer they gave and took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with the class afterwards.

The students had a fantastic day and, as part of the NIC process, students keep a journal in which they write about their experiences to date with this curriculum approach.

Students wrote in their journals: “I had so much fun today, in fact, this has been the best day of the year.”

“Today I interviewed a Munster rugby player, I was nervous at first but then when I saw them come in I was bubbling with excitement.”

“We practised so much and I hope we all did our interviewing jobs properly to impress the rugby players.”

“We got to meet Munster rugby players today and get pictures and autographs, nothing could make this day any better.”

Different groups of students went on to interview a psychologist, a university lecturer, a secondary school SPHE teacher and a beautician about topics such as depression, emotional health and adolescence.

NIC provides the opportunity for greater pupil engagement with their teachers and each other. This work has taken a collaborative approach with students and as a result has developed deeper learning, problem solving and critical thinking skills in the participating students.

The cooperative learning methodologies developed in this work have also made explicit the teaching of social and communication skills, thus increasing student’s self-esteem.

Munster Rugby would like to thank Gaelscoil Sheoirse Clancy for a great day and wish them well with their research.


Brendan Gleeson brushes up his cúpla focal for Irish movie remake

Aibreán 15, 2014

IRISH animation ‘Song of the Sea’ is soon to be remade As Gaeilge and actor Brendan Gleeson is expected to lead the cast again for the translated version of the film.

Makers of the Cartoon Saloon production are hoping to premiere it on TG4 at the end of the year and have asked the cast, which includes Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt and Moone Boy actor David Rawle, to re-record their lines in the native tongue. “We are hoping to do it in June and so far they’ve all said they will if they can,” producer Paul Young told the Irish Independent. “We’re making all the calls at the moment, so it just depends on everyone’s schedule and timing.”

A former school teacher, 58-year-old Gleeson has insisted he is keen to put his language skills to the test and read out his lines in Irish. ‘Song of the Sea’ takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land.

The film, the second from ‘The Secret of Kells’ director Tomm Moore, follows the main character Ben and his little sister Saoirse, who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea.

The feature has already been picked up by distributors in Europe, as well as landing a deal with GKIDS in the US. Gleeson and his co-stars recorded their parts last year. It has been a busy time for Dublin-born Gleeson, who is well known for his work in hit films such as ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Braveheart’.

He recently completed principal photography on ‘In The Heart of The Sea’ opposite Cillian Murphy and Chris Hemsworth and also filmed the pilot of HBO’s ‘The Money’, directed by David Milch.



Number of one-teacher schools at risk of rising

Aibreán 11, 2014

THE number of one-teacher primary schools is at risk of increasing to 60 next September – up from eight in 2012 – as a result of ongoing teacher cuts.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told the Dail that preliminary figures showed up to 60 schools could be reduced to one teacher in the autumn.

This is because of a programme of cuts that will require a school to have at least 20 pupils in September in order to be allocated two teachers.

However, the minister’s spokesperson later said that the figure was “highly unlikely” to reach 60 as it was open to schools to appeal.

Primary schools with three and four teachers are also at risk of losing teachers in September.

Fianna Fail education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said it was real evidence of the Government’s targeted campaign against small schools, the burden of which had fallen on rural schools, minority faith schools and Gaeltacht schools.

Next September sees the third and final phase of an increase in the pupil-teacher ratio of two, three and four-teacher schools announced in the December 2011 Budget.

The process started in September 2012 and affects schools with fewer than 86 pupils, which number about 1,500, or half of the 3,200 primary schools in the country.


Céad míle fáilte for new Irish language commissioner

Márta 13, 2014

THERE was a céad míle fáilte for Rónán Ó Domhnaill at Áras an Uachtaráin where he was appointed as the new Irish language commissioner.

President Michael D Higgins signed the warrant of appointment at the Áras at a ceremony which was attended by family members. Connemara-native Mr Ó Domhnaill (38) is well known for his work as a political correspondent with Nuacht RTÉ and TG4. His wife, Irene Ní Nualláin, who is a reporter with TG4 nuacht, and the couple’s two daughters Róisín (2) and Maeve (1) attended the ceremony where the new commissioner was presented with his seal of office, alongside the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley.


‘Ruairi Quinn wants to see himself as the man who changed the system’

Márta 12, 2014

IT’S more about his name than the students.

That’s according to 27,000 protesting teachers who believe that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn will ruin relationships between teachers and their parents. One union official claimed that Mr Quinn was “trying to make a name for himself ” with the shake-up of the Junior Cert. Sean Carr, a learning resources and PE teacher at 850-pupil St Eunan’s College in Letterkenny, was joined on the picket line by several colleagues, including Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan ( also PE) and Donegal GAA All Star Colm McFadden (maths). They were joined by their colleagues in a protest at more changes being introduced in schools.

“Ruairi Quinn wants to see himself as the man who changed the system and to make a name for himself,” said Mr Carr, a shop steward. “The fact is this is being rushed through. We’re all for change and teachers don’t mind change as long as it makes sense and we are given the time to implement them. “He (Quinn) hasn’t consulted us, isn’t providing the support we need and has ignored us. “This, of course, is all happening at a time when our nearest neighbours in Britain are moving towards scrapping the assessment- led GCSEs and bringing back O Levels.” Just across the Co Donegal town, teachers on Ireland’s newest school campus have similar fears. The Irish- language-medium Colaiste Ailigh’s new € 7m school building opened three months ago after 10 years of portacabins. “Taking away independent assessment will destroy the relationships between teachers and parents,” said Celine Gallagher, an Irish-speaking French native who teaches English and French to some of the school’s 220 pupils.

“We welcome change but this system will not be right for our children and they are the people who count.” Her colleague, Seosamh Mac Ceallabbhui, who teaches Junior Cert maths, said: “Taking away independent assessment is a major problem. Parents unhappy with marks will be coming to knock on our doors and that will change the dynamic between all the stakeholders. It will cause friction.” The defiant mood of teachers was reflected at the other end of the country, in Cork. “This is all about getting the minister and the Department of Education to listen to our concerns,” one teacher protesting in Bishopstown said. “All we are pleading for is some consultation and an assurance that our concerns will be acted upon,” she added. Protests were mounted throughout Cork city and county as the ASTI and TUI united to voice their fears about the proposals. Teacher unions have warned that further protests will be mounted if their concerns are not taken into account.


Airgead le sábháil? Glac é ó na Gaeil arís

Márta 12, 2014

Agus Seachtain na Gaeilge in ard a réime, tá cúis úr cheiliúrtha aimsithe agam do Ghaeil na hÉireann.

Is cosúil gur sinne is tréine atá ag ciorrú agus ag gearradh i ré na déine. Tá páistí ag déanamh Rith 2014 ó Bhaile Bhuirne go Béal Feirste — 750 ciliméadar — agus ‘ fhad is atá siad ag rith tá sceanairt á déanamh ar eagraíochtaí agus irisí ar nós Nós, Beo, Feasta agus An tUltach ( ar dheis) ar mhaithe le pinginí a shábháil don ‘ré úr’ a bhreac le déanaí don teanga. Agus na daltaí scoile seo ag iompar lóchrann an dóchais ó cheann ceann na tíre, tá gortghlanadh gan réamhshampla á dhéanamh ar thírdhreach na teanga agus, dar liomsa, níl an ghaoth ag séideadh chomh fuar ná chomh neamhthrócaireach céanna in aon réimse eile den tsochaí.

Creidim féin go bhfuil na húdaráis sásta go maith nach mbeidh an scéal seo i mbéal an phobail. Tá’s acu gur beag suim atá ag na meáin Bhéarla i scannal i saol na Gaeilge, seachas ceann faoin chostas ar cháipéis nár léadh i mBéarla a aistriú go Gaeilge. Go minic ní bhíonn ach maoiniú suarach i gceist. Tá tábhacht shiombalach leis, áfach. Léiríonn sé meon maistíneachta an mhaoinitheora. An dream is lú is túisce a mhothóidh an bhuatais throm ar a mhuineál. Luaim sa chomhthéacs seo an maoiniú €16,000 in aghaidh na bliana atá á bhaint de An tUltach. Is beag an méid é seo le tacú le hiris mhíosúil a sheas an fód ar feadh 90 bliain le linn cogaí agus géarchéimeanna eacnamaíochta a choimeád beo do na páistí atá ag déanamh Rith 2014. Seasann an cinneadh seo amach mar an ciorrú is suaraí agus is tréasúla ar fad.

Níl sé maith a dhóthain, dar liom, d’Fhoras na Gaeilge a fhógairt go mbeidh scéim eile ann ‘ar ball’ chun cuireadh a thabhairt do ghrúpaí nua irisí eile a bhunú. Má tá dáta cinnte ann do dheireadh an mhaoinithe do An tUltach agus eile, agus tá — 30 Meitheamh 2014 — ba cheart go mbeadh scéim nua réidh le teacht ina áit agus irisí nua réidh le teacht ar an margadh ar 1 Iúil 2014. Agus níl. Mura bhfuil seo in áit, léiríonn sé mí-éifeacht an mhaoinitheora. Ní mór a mheabhrú gurb é ár gcuid airgid atá á dháileadh ag Foras na Gaeilge, seachas a gcuid maoine féin. An bhliain seo caite chinn an Foras deireadh a chur le maoiniú Gaelscéal agus níl nuachtán Gaeilge maoinithe againn ó dheireadh mhí Feabhra 2013. Ní raibh ‘ plean B’ an Fhorais réidh agus plean ‘A’ á chur ó mhaith ag an institiúid teanga trasteorann. Seo patrún fadbhunaithe ag Foras na Gaeilge — tharla sé leis an tSamhail Nua Mhaoinithe, Scéim na nOifigeach Forbartha Pobal, na hirisí, na nuachtáin agus eile. Deineann siad cinneadh fáil réidh le rud amháin ach ní bhíonn a mhalairt réidh le dul ar an margadh. Líontar bearnaí fada le socruithe sealadacha nó le folúis fholmha. Ní bheadh sé maith a dhóthain in aon réimse eile den saol poiblí agus níor cheart go mbeadh sé maith a ói réimse na Gaeilge/na Gaeltachta.

Mar sin, is dócha go bhfuil cúis cheiliúrtha ag Gaeil na hÉireann le linn Sheachtain na Gaeilge 2014. Is sinne is tréine ag feidhmiú na déine.


Cuireann Foras stop le maoiniú d’irisí Gaeilge

Márta 12, 2014

Tá imní mhór á léiriú ag earnáil na n-irisí Gaeilge faoi chinneadh Fhoras na Gaeilge deireadh a chur lena maoiniú reatha ó thús mhí Iúil ar aghaidh.

Cuirfear críoch leis an chóras reatha maoinithe do na heagraíochtaí bunmhaoinithe an 30 Meitheamh agus tá sé tugtha le fios anois ag an eagras trasteorann go mbeidh impleachtaí ag an chinneadh sin don airgead a chuirtear ar fáil d’fhormhór na n-irisí clóite agus idirlín. Tiocfaidh deireadh leis an mhaoiniú a fhaigheann iris Chonradh na Gaeilge, Feasta; iris Chomhaltas Uladh, An tUltach; agus suíomh Chomhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Gaelport.


Ní leanfar ach an oiread leis an mhaoiniú a bhí á chur ar fáil don iris chultúir Nós ná don iris idirlín Beo.ie. Ciallaíonn sé sin gurb í an iris litríochta agus chúrsaí reatha, Comhar, an t-aon fhoilseachán míosúil atá slán ón chiorrú seo ar na meáin. Deir Seán Ó Murchadha, bainisteoir An tUltach, gur chuir fógairt an Fhorais an-iontas ar choiste na hirise, atá 90 bliain ar an fhód i mbliana. “Tá fearg shoiléir ar phobal na Gaeilge faoi láthair faoin ghearradh siar agus faoin easpa seirbhísí atá ar fáil dúinn ach dealraíonn sé gur cuma le Foras na Gaeilge faoin mhíshástacht mhór seo atá le sonrú fad fad na tíre,” arsa Seán. “Is bocht an scéal é má tharlaíonn sé nach mbeidh ann ach iris amháin Ghaeilge atá á maoiniú ag an stát agus is é pobal na teanga féin a bheas thíos leis an ghanntanas éagsúlachta seo.”

Dar le hEagarthóir Nós ( ar chlé), Tomaí Ó Conghaile, go ndéanfaidh an iris chultúir agus stíl bheatha a seacht ndícheall leanúint ar aghaidh in ainneoin na gciorruithe. “Is drochscéal é seo do na meáin Ghaeilge,” ar seisean. “Mar sin féin bhí meon deonach, pobalbhunaithe ag Nós ón tús agus beidh muid ag fiosrú bealaí úra chun airgead a ghiniúint don togra.”

Tá sé ráite ag Foras na Gaeilge go bpléifear féidearthachtaí leis na foilsitheoirí éagsúla ach ní fios fós cén struchtúr maoinithe a bheidh ar fáil.


Teachers ‘won’t bow to parent exam pressure’

Márta 12, 2014

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn said teachers should be able to withstand any pressure from parents when it comes to awarding grades to their own pupils under the new-style Junior Cert.

Mr Quinn was speaking after thousands of second-level teachers staged a lunchtime protest in opposition to some of the reforms planned for Junior Cycle pupils, starting in September. At the heart of much of the teacher resistance is the abolition of the traditional Junior Certificate exams and their replacement with assessment by teachers of their own pupils for a new certificate called the Junior Cycle Students Award (JCSA), to be issued by schools.

Many teachers fear it will change their role from advocate to judge and jury and expose them to undue pressure and criticism from parents. But Mr Quinn said teachers are “highly professional” and as things stood “parents do not come and give out about the marks awarded to their children in the second-year Christmas exams. “Teachers are professional enough to withstand it,” he said. Teachers also warn that the objectivity of the state exams and independently awarded certificate will be lost with a switch to teacher assessment, which will lead to a variation in standards between schools. Mr Quinn said guidance would be provided by the State Examinations Commission and others and it would not be a case of almost 750 schools “going in different directions”. Yesterday’s protest did not disrupt classes, but teacher opposition to the Junior Cycle reform plans could yet have an impact on schools and their pupils. Both second- level teacher unions, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), are balloting members on industrial action and the results will be known on March 26. The TUI is also asking its members to vote on possible strike action.


ASTI president Sally Maguire, who attended the protest outside Newpark Comprehensive School, Blackrock, Co Dublin, said teachers wanted a fair, transparent, objective and equitable exams process for Junior Cycle students. She said anything less had “the potential to seriously undermine education standards and to exacerbate inequalities between students and schools”. TUI president Gerard Craughwell, who also participated in the protest, said Ireland enjoyed the highest level of public satisfaction with the education system and schools, and such trust would be put at risk with the planned discontinuation of external assessment at Junior Cycle level. He also said there remained an unacceptable lack of concrete information about how the new programme would work in practice.

“With less than six months before implementation is scheduled to begin, this is nowhere near good enough. Change for which adequate preparation has not been made can cause lasting damage to the education system and the educational experience of students,” he added


Quinn forges ahead with reform of Junior Cycle despite protest

Márta 11, 2014

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn is forging ahead with arrangements for Junior Cycle reform despite opposition from teacher unions.

The minister showed his determination on the eve of today’s protests by teachers in up to 730 second-level schools aimed at highlighting their concerns about the proposals. Mr Quinn responded by choosing yesterday to issue formal instructions to schools confirming that change would go ahead in September, and how it will be implemented. Today’s lunchtime rallies are not aimed at disrupting classes, but they will serve as a taste of what lies ahead if teachers vote to withdraw co-operation with Mr Quinn’s plans for reform. The overhaul involves radical changes in teaching and learning, with technology taking a central role and a greater emphasis on students thinking for themselves rather than engaging in rote learning. There will be a bigger choice of subjects with opportunities to study short courses such as Chinese, computing and artistic performance.

Key to the reform is the abolition of the traditional Junior Certificate exams and continuous assessment of students by their own teachers, for a new Junior Cycle Student Award (JCSA), issued by schools. The process of change is due to start with introduction of a new English syllabus for first years in September, while other changes will be phased in over a number of years. As part of the reform plan, standardised testing will be introduced in key subjects of English, maths and science. Standardised tests, which are already carried out among second, fourth and sixth class pupils in primary school, tell how a student is doing compared with other children of the same age. But the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) are balloting their 27,000 members on a range of actions designed to stymie the introduction of change.

The ballots end on March 26 and a ‘yes’ vote will clear the way for action, such as a ban on teacher training for the proposed changes and a refusal to teach the new ‘short courses’ that schools have an option of introducing from September. The TUI is also asking its members to vote on possible strike action. The two unions are also seeking a mandate from members to ban co- operation with the assessment by teachers of their own students for the new JCSA. The abolition of the Junior Cert is a key bone of contention, with the unions also claiming that a JCSA awarded by one school may be seen as more prestigious than one from another in the same area.


They have also criticised the lack of resources to implement the changes, including inadequate technology, with schools at “breaking point” as a result of cutbacks. In January, Mr Quinn announced a slowdown in the pace of change and also promised additional resources and other measures designed to ease the transition. But the unions said it did not go far enough and made arrangements for their ballots and today’s protest And yesterday, the minister made clear his intentions as his officials issued formal instructions to schools – known as a circular – confirming the new arrangements for Junior Cycle for incoming first years in September and the revised timetable for other changes in the years ahead.


Irish was path to a job for life

Márta 10, 2014

Madam — I fully agree with the view expressed by Declan Lynch ‘A monument to our national failure’, ( Sunday Independent, March 2, 2014).

No doubt, there were Gaelgoirs who made a career out of being proficient in Irish as it ensured they had a job for life. In the early years of the State’s birth, this was important as the only alternative was the emigrant ship. There was a man I dealt with regularly over the years in business. In many conversations during our working relationship, he told me he was an enthusiastic Irish speaker as a young man in the early years of the new Irish State.

He, like many of his colleagues at that time, went to Irish classes to perfect their native tongue. Years later he met one of his former classmates in town. He greeted him warmly and addressed him by his English name. His former friend told him that he had changed his name years earlier and was now known only by his Irish name. And the cynical reason was that he realised early on in his career that if he became a fully fledged Gaelgoir, he would never be out of a job!

Those who were not cute enough to see the career opportunity took the boat to England. Would it not have been better to teach them good English rather than be seen as the thick Irish when they looked for jobs over there?

Brendan M Redmond,
Dublin 6w


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