28 October, 2016 - Government Launches Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022

Scoil Náisiúnta Mhic Dara, An Cheathrú Rua (Carraroe), Co Galway

Today, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, together with the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Sean Kyne launched the Department of Education and Skills’ Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022. The launch was held in Scoil Náisiúnta Mhic Dara, An Cheathrú Rua (Carraroe), Co Galway.

The development and implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 is a central commitment contained in Minister Bruton’s Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 which was published in September of this year.

Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach said that he believed that the Gaeltacht was enormously important for the future of the language and Irish culture.

“This Policy is the first comprehensive strategy for education in the Gaeltacht since the establishment of the State. The Government is strongly committed to implementing the actions in the 20-Year Strategy for Irish and this Policy on Gaeltacht Education sets out how we will support Gaeltacht schools to provide high-quality, Irish-medium education to the children of the Gaeltacht,” said the Taoiseach.

Minister Richard Bruton described the challenges faced by Gaeltacht schools as they taught children who came to school with very varying levels of familiarity with spoken Irish.

“As Minister for Education and Skills, I want to ensure that the right conditions exist to develop excellent Irish-medium schools in the Gaeltacht,” said Minister Bruton. “Under the Policy, schools in the Gaeltacht will have the opportunity from 2017 to seek recognition as Gaeltacht Schools in line with linguistic criteria. I hope that the recognition process will be encouraging and inspiring for schools, and that schools will be attracted to participate in it,” he added.

Under the Policy, a recognised Gaeltacht school will be a school where the school commits to delivering all curriculum areas and subjects through the medium of Irish. Schools that opt for Gaeltacht school status will have up to five years to achieve this status. These schools will gain access to packages of additional teaching and other resources in a staged way as they demonstrate progress towards Gaeltacht school status.

“Our goal is to see recognised Gaeltacht schools being the schools of first choice for parents in the Gaeltacht,” said Minister Bruton.

Recognised Gaeltacht schools will also be required to engage with their communities in the Gaeltacht language planning process under the Gaeltacht Act, 2012.

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Seán Kyne welcomed the publication of the Policy, and especially the commitment that schools would be able to participate fully in the language planning process in each Gaeltacht area.

“The requirement that Gaeltacht schools participate in the language planning process illustrates how important it is for schools and their communities to work closely together to strengthen the use of Irish,” he said.

The Policy is available on the website of the Department of Education and Skills at:

NOTES

The Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022:

  • Sets out a vision for Gaeltacht education that recognises the role that schools and early-years settings play in providing high quality Irish-medium education and in fostering Irish-language proficiency and usage in the wider Gaeltacht community
  • Aims to support and improve the quality of Irish-medium instruction in Gaeltacht schools and pre-schools, so as to ensure that Irish-medium instruction is the first choice of parents in each of the Gaeltacht areas
  • Sets out a comprehensive range of interlinked actions to ensure the availability of a high quality and relevant Irish-medium educational experience for all young people living in Gaeltacht areas and in this way to support the use of Irish as the main language of Gaeltacht communities
  • Introduces a policy whereby schools located in Gaeltacht planning areas can opt to seek recognition as a Gaeltacht school – a Gaeltacht school will be a school where the school commits to delivering all curriculum areas and subjects through the medium of Irish and engages with the community in the Gaeltacht language planning process. Schools that opt for Gaeltacht school status will have up to five years to achieve this status. These schools will gain access to packages of additional teaching and other resources in a staged way as they demonstrate progress towards Gaeltacht school status.
  • Seeks to align the work of Gaeltacht schools closely with the language planning process under the Gaeltacht Act.