30 November, 2017 - Spending on Gaeltacht Education to more than double in 2018 – Minister Bruton

Nearly 80% of primary schools and 96% of post primary schools in the Gaeltacht, plan to achieve Gaeltacht school status

Investment in Gaeltacht education to more than double in 2018

One year on, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. today announced the progress made on implementing the Policy on Gaeltacht Education.

This Policy on Gaeltacht Education, which was the first of its kind, was an action in the Minister’s Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s Education and Training Service the best in Europe by 2026.

One of the key actions in implementing the Policy is the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme, which invited schools in Gaeltacht areas to opt into becoming Irish-medium schools meaning full immersion in the Irish language. Uptake has been very strong, with nearly 80% of primary schools in Gaeltacht regions opting into the Scheme and over 96% of post-primary schools.

The Minister today announced a package of additional supports for schools whose participation in the Scheme is confirmed in 2018. The package includes:

  • A grant of €1,000 for the purchase of Irish-language teaching materials.
  • Additional language support hours, which will be equivalent to providing an extra 40 whole-time teachers in Gaeltacht schools
  • Additional professional development for teachers, with substitute cover, provided by COGG, and the opportunity to participate in a new part-time M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education
  • Extra advisory visits from School Inspectors
  • The opportunity to take part in a pilot project to link post-primary Gaeltacht schools digitally to extend subject choice through the medium of Irish

All remaining schools (28 primary and 1 post-primary) will be given another opportunity to participate in the Scheme in 2018/2019 and a package of initial supports will be available to schools who indicate that they would like to join in the 2018/2019 school year.

The Minister secured additional funding of €1.3 million in Budget 2018, for the Policy on Gaeltacht Education, bringing the overall additional funding for Gaeltacht schools to €2.3 million.

Speaking at an event to mark the one year anniversary of the Policy in Scoil Náisiúnta Uí Ghramhnaigh in Ráth Chairn, the Minister said, “I’m delighted to see the success of the Policy to date. The Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme has clearly been very warmly received, with nearly 80% of primary schools and 96% of post-primary schools choosing to opt in and receive extra supports. I urge the remaining schools to look at the benefits of the Scheme and to carefully consider participating in it. I have set the overall ambition to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe within a decade. Ensuring schools in our Gaeltacht areas are properly supported to flourish as centres of excellence for education through the Irish language, is important to achieving this ambition. I was also pleased to over double the funding allocated to the Policy in Budget 2018 and I look forward to seeing the further success of its implementation.”

Finally Minister Bruton thanked Mairéad Uí Cheallaigh, principal of Scoil Náisiúnta Uí Ghramhnaigh and Father O’ Connor, chairperson of the board of management, for the warm welcome he received at the school. He congratulated the children of the school on a very impressive performance and wished them well in their future endeavours.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Primary and post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht

  • There are 134 primary schools and 28 post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht giving an overall total of 162 schools.
  • Of the 134 primary schools, 106 primary schools have expressed interest to participate in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme during the current school year. 27 out of 28 post-primary schools have opted to participate in the Scheme during the current school year. In total 133 schools in the Gaeltacht are participating in the Scheme in 2017/2018.
  • All remaining schools (28 primary and one post-primary) will be given another opportunity to participate in the Scheme in 2018/2019.

Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme

Additional resources for the implementation of the Policy

  • Investment for the implementation of the Policy will more than double from €1m in 2017 to €2.3m in 2018
  • A grant of €1,000 will be made available to each school in the Recognition Scheme following the approval of its Improvement Plan in Spring 2018. The grant is for the purchase of Irish-language teaching materials.
  • Additional language support hours will be made available to schools participating in the implementation of the Scheme in 2018/19 to support Irish language teaching. These hours will be the equivalent of 40 whole-time-equivalent teachers (30 at primary level and 10 at post-primary level).
  • Two ex-quota teachers will be allocated to pilot a language programme in one post-primary school designed to support Irish-language acquisition and fluency. The results of this pilot will be carefully evaluated and the learning gained will inform future practice in Gaeltacht schools.
  • The increased funding granted to COGG in 2017 will be continued in 2018. This will continue to fund the employment of two new education officers recruited in 2017, bursaries for teachers, and to cover the cost of substitution of teachers attending COGG professional development seminars for schools in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme.
  • A package of initial supports will also be available to schools in the Gaeltacht that have not joined the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme in 2017/18 but who choose to join in 2018/19.
  • The Gaeltacht Education Unit will commence a pilot project to link post-primary schools digitally in 2018. If the project is successful, it will be extended to other interested schools in future years. This will make available additional subjects through the medium of Irish. It will also be an opportunity to embed ICT in teaching, learning and assessment.
  • The Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are developing a strategy and action plan to address the needs of Early Years education in the Gaeltacht.
  • Financial support for the two additional teaching posts for the Post-Graduate Masters in Education programme at NUIG, first granted in 2017 will continue in 2018. This is intended to extend and strengthen the provision of second-level teachers for the Irish-medium sector.
  • The Gaeltacht Education Unit has been working closely with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to develop tenders for the provision of a four-year B.Ed. programme through the medium of Irish and for the provision of an Irish-medium and Gaeltacht education Master in Education (M.Ed.) programme. The Department hopes that the new four-year B.Ed. programme through the medium of Irish for primary teachers will begin in September 2019 and that the part-time M.Ed. in Irish-Medium and Gaeltacht Education will begin in September 2018. The Department is confident that these actions will impact positively on the provision of teachers for the all-Irish sector in order to realise the objective of the Gaeltacht Education Policy in terms of improving the quality of Irish-medium education.