A solution to the challenge of providing Irish-medium post-primary education in Dundalk
Gaeloideachas warmly welcomes the decision by the Minister of Education to approve the establishment of a new model of school in Dundalk, Co Louth to provide post-primary Irish-medium education for students in the region.
The new model, a satellite school, differs from the aonad model and will be the first of its kind. Instead of being under the management of a local English-medium school, the satellite school in Dundalk will be under the management of Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, a gaelcholáiste located in north Co Dublin. Coláiste Ghlór na Mara has a very strong Irish-language ethos and is under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, the only patron wholly dedicated to the provision of Irish-medium immersion education. This means that from the very start, the new satellite school will provide everything through Irish for their students, both in the classroom and across all social and extra-curricular activities.
The region had previously been served by Coláiste Lú, an aonad (Irish-medium unit) within the ETB-run Coláiste Cúchulainn. However, changes in local circumstances drastically reduced the range of subjects the aonad could provide. Students were put in a difficult situation and many had to choose between a long commute to their closest Gaelcholáiste or a switch to English-medium education.
President of Gaeloideachas, Seán Ó hArgáin welcomes the initiative in saying “The situation is unique and has come about with thanks to the immense efforts made by the parents in Dundalk to fight for their children’s right to continue their education through Irish. Though there are a significant number of children in Co Louth attending Irish-medium primary schools, the county has no gaelcholáiste available for them to progress to. It is a testament to all involved in the campaign that there will be a solution in place for those students by September 2021”.
In speaking about the importance of this new model, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of Gaeloideachas says “we will provide every support possible to the new satellite to ensure its success in Dundalk, however we would caution against the suggestion that this model could provide a national solution to the challenges posed by inadequate infrastructure for Irish-medium post-primary education. Until we have clarity on how this model will work, which supports it will receive from the Department and what the roadmap will be in terms of functioning as an independent school, let’s not lose sight of the need for a robust policy that ensures high-quality Irish-medium immersion education for all pupils”.