17 June, 2018 - Minister Bruton announces ring-fenced funding for island post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht

Package of supports includes additional €15,000 per post-primary school and extra teaching resources 

Ring-fenced package of supports in addition to the resources already provided under Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. today (Sunday the 17th of June 2018) announced an additional package of supports to support island post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht areas.

The government launched the Policy on Gaeltacht Education in 2016, which was the first ever targeted strategy for education provision in Gaeltacht areas, as part of the Minister’s Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s Education and Training Service the best in Europe by 2026.

Making the announcement today, Minister Bruton said: “I have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. I am acutely aware of the challenging environment in which island post-primary schools operate, which is why, as part of our Policy on Gaeltacht Education, we are supporting these schools with additional resources to meet their unique circumstances.”

All island post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht have opted into the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme, meaning they are striving to operate as Irish-medium schools. Under this Scheme, which is a key action in the Policy on Gaeltacht Education, these schools already receive a number of additional supports such as, additional funding for Irish-language teaching materials, extra training for their teachers and additional language-support hours.

Today’s ring-fenced package of supports for island post-primary schools is in addition to these resources.

The package of additional supports includes:

  • Increased teacher allocation for each of the island post-primary schools from its present allocation of 1 whole-time equivalent post to 1.5 whole-time equivalent posts from September 2018
  • An additional ring-fenced budget of €15,000 per annum for each post-primary island school to cover their additional operational costs
  • The establishment of Coláiste Naomh Eoin, previously designated as a Language Unit (Aonad), as an independent stand-alone school on Inis Meáin, Co Galway. This change in status will result in the appointment of a principal and deputy principal, the establishment of a board of management for Coláiste Naomh Eoin, and the allocation of standard capitation and other grants to Galway/Roscommon ETB for the school. 

Joe McHugh, Minister for the Irish language, Gaeltacht and the Islands, said: "These additional €15,000 grants and extra teaching resources for Gaeltacht island post-primary schools will go a long way in supporting this Government's ambitions to sustain and grow the Irish language among the next generation.

"The islands are valuable communities and this money demonstrates a clear vision for their Irish language medium schools to be properly resourced and to expand and improve the teaching of key subjects such as the sciences.

“I know this will make a huge difference to communities on the islands off Donegal and Galway and will be a welcome boost to the teachers, equipping children and teenagers with the skills they need for the future.”

There are five post-primary schools located on islands in the Gaeltacht in Counties Galway and Donegal. All five schools are under the patronage of Galway/Roscommon ETB and Donegal ETB.

Each ETB is required to adopt a co-ordinated and strategic approach in the management and allocation of these additional resources for island post-primary schools. This will require the incorporation of specific targets and actions in each post-primary school’s action plan for improvement, which they are required to have in accordance with their participation in the Gaeltacht Recognition Scheme. It should also include the sharing of resources between schools and the building of synergies to enhance the quality of Irish-medium educational provision in island post-primary schools. 

Notes to Editors: 

Additional resources for Island schools from Budget 2017 

As part of budget 2017, all one-teacher island primary schools received an extra teacher.   

Additional resources for the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education

  • Investment for the implementation of the Policy more than doubled from €1m in 2017 to €2.3m in 2018
  • A grant of €1,200 is being made available to each school in the Recognition Scheme following the approval of its Improvement Plan. 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 an Irish-language development programme at post-primary level i.e. one additional teacher in each of two post-primary schools 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.
  • The Gaeltacht Education Unit will commence a pilot project to link post-primary schools digitally in 2018/19. 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 has continued in 2018. This is intended to extend and strengthen the provision of second-level teachers for the Irish-medium sector.
  • A new four-year B.Ed. programme through the medium of Irish for primary teachers will begin in September 2019 and the part-time M.Ed. in Irish-Medium and Gaeltacht Education will begin in September 2018.