Gaeloideachas works with communities and various patron organisations to establish new Irish-medium schools, both in areas designated for the development of new schools by the Department of Education & Skills and in other areas where the community has determined a demand for Irish-medium education. The success of any application for the recognition of a new school depends on community support and expressions of interest from parents. Help with campaigns to establish new schools is always welcome, and every support is provided to the volunteer committees working to establish schools in their local communities.
Gaeloideachas’ vision is that high-quality Irish-medium immersion education should be available to every parent and guardian who would choose it for their child. If you’re interested in helping to make this a reality, you’ll find information on current campaigns on www.gaelscoil4all.ie
How are new schools established?
New Irish-medium schools can be established in different ways, and Gaeloideachas provides support in all cases.
The most common way is when the Department of Education and Skills announces that a new school is required for a particular area. This happens when the Department’s Forward Planning Unit determines that there will not be enough places in local schools to cater for a growing or changing population in the area. You’ll find more information on this process and on how you can take part in it under the Have your say on patronage tab.
Less commonly, new provision of Irish-medium education can be established in an existing school. This can happen:
- when an English-medium school decides to change their language ethos to become an Irish-medium school;
- when an English-medium school decides to open an Irish-language ‘aonad’ or ‘sruth’ (you’ll find more information on what an ‘aonad’ is here);
- or when two or more schools in an area come together and amalgamate to form a new Irish-medium school.
What is a school patron?
A school patron is the legal entity responsible for the day-to-day running of the school. Irish-medium schools have a variety of patrons; some are under the patronage of the local bishop, some are under the patronage of the local Education and Training Board (ETB) and many are under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, a registered charity dedicated to the patronage of Irish-medium schools.
The denomination (spiritual or religious ethos of a school) is determined by the school’s patron. Some Irish-medium schools are denominational (Catholic), others are inter-denominational (with a shared Catholic and Protestant characteristic spirit) and others are multi-denominational (where no particular denominational religion is taught). The language ethos of a school (English or Irish-medium) is also determined by the patron.
You can find out what patron and what denomination a school has by looking it up in our directory:
Have your say on patronage
The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for the establishment of new schools in areas where there is a significant growth or change in population, and not enough existing school places in local schools to cater for the increased demand. A group called the New Schools Establishment Group advises the Minister for Education on the patronage of new schools to be established.
Once the Department decides that a new school is needed, patrons are invited to apply to open the new school as part of a competitive process. This is done to provide for choice and diversity in our education system. Usually, parents are consulted as part of this process and patrons will run a campaign in the area to encourage parents to vote for their particular model of education.
This is done through an online system run by the Department. During the consultation period, parents can indicate their preferred patron body to run the school, as well as their preferred language ethos (English or Irish). Parents need to live in the school planning area and have a child or children not yet attending school to be eligible to vote. To prove their eligibility to vote, parents are asked for their child’s PPS number and their Eircode. For more information on this process, see https://patronage.education.gov.ie/.
What's special about a new school?
In a new school there is a great sense of excitement and community for all involved. Usually the school will start with just Junior Infants. Your child will get to know all of the staff members and other pupils very quickly, and you will get to know all of the other parents.
Unique opportunities to get involved!
A new board of management, parents association and other committees are just some of the ways that parents can have their say and lend a hand. A new uniform policy, lunch policy and many more things will be put in place before the school opens and a new school gives plenty of opportunities to be involved in these decisions and be hands-on in your child’s education.
Where there is an opportunity to open a new Irish-medium school, parents and other supporters are encouraged to join their local campaign to spread the word and encourage as many parents as possible to show their support.
Do you live within the school planning area? Do you have a child or children not yet attending school? If the answer to both is yes, you’re eligible to vote!
Where the Department is running a competitive process to establish a new school, the number of votes each patron receives is key to the Department’s decision on what type of school will be established in the area. An expression of parental preference for patronage of a school is not an application for enrolment, so if you’re eligible to vote, you can help the campaign by voting for Irish-medium education. It’s a gesture of support for the campaign, not a commitment to send your child to the new school, and you are free to enrol your child in another school if you wish.
What if you don’t have a vote?
If you’re not within the school planning area, or if you’re simply looking to show your support for the campaign, we’d still love to have your help. Register for the mailing list at http://gaelscoil4all.ie/register/ and we’ll keep you up to date. Alternatively, keep an eye on the news feed at the bottom of this page for the latest stories about new schools.
The Gaelscoil4all Campaign
The Gaelscoil4all campaign is a campaign by An Foras Pátrúnachta, the largest patron of Irish-medium schools, to establish new Irish-medium multi-denominational schools. You will find lots of information on their website about current campaigns, new schools and ways to get involved: http://gaelscoil4all.ie/
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