Allowance for Teaching through Irish – Background and Reasoning

Oct 13, 2023

There has been a teacher supply crisis in the Irish-medium and Gaeltacht education sector for many years. This is a result of a lack of teachers at both levels with the required language abilities to teach in an Irish-medium or Gaeltacht school.

The allowance for teaching through Irish was €1,785 per year for teachers who began teaching before December 2011. Two other allowances were removed from new teachers at the same time; an allowance for teachers in Gaeltacht schools and an allowance for teachers in island schools. These stood at €3,455 and €2,078 respectively.

Since the allowance for teaching through Irish was ended in 2011, there is no incentive or adequate recognition given to the significant additional responsibilities for teachers who teach in Irish-medium settings where immersion education is in place.

Other countries in which teachers work in bilingual or immersion education settings – such as New Zealand, Hawaii, and Canada – already provide recognition similar to this allowance.

Gaeloideachas believes that there is real value to the work being done, and a need for recognition for the teachers carrying out this work. Therefore, we are actively campaigning on this issue, and your support would be a big help to the campaign and in drawing attention to these issues. We are delighted to have the support of the INTO on this matter. #LuachTríLiúntas

 

10 Reasons to Reintroduce the Allowance

  1. Teachers in immersion education settings need a wider range of linguistic and educational skills and knowledge over and above what is required for other teachers (Ó Ceallaigh, Hourigan, agus Leavy 2018). They have to keep their language skills and proficiency at a high level.
  1. There is an unjust divide in schools between teachers who started working in the system since 2011 who do not receive the allowance, and those with the allowance. For those who are still earning the allowance, who started working in their school before 2011, they will lose it if they move schools – even if they move to another Irish-medium school.
  1. Additional work is needed to promote Irish as the language of socialisation and community language of the school in a wider context. Teachers organise events, trips to the Gaeltacht, and more to achieve this.
  1. Teachers in Irish-medium schools have an additional responsibility in finding the right balance between teaching specific subjects and placing enough emphasis on language acquisition.
  1. Teachers must create contemporary resources in Irish quickly to keep up with current events. These materials need to be created from scratch, or by repurposing or translating materials in English – all of which is done in the teacher’s personal time.
  1. Teachers must create assessment tools in Irish to assess different abilities, and particularly to provide support to students who have specific support needs. These tools are not being provided as standard by State agencies. In addition, learning support may need to be provided bilingually, in accordance with the needs of the child.
  1. Teachers in Irish-medium schools have to communicate with parents bilingually, meaning that double the work is involved in correspondence with parents.
  1. If any policy for Irish-medium education outside of Gaeltacht areas is to be successful, it will be essential to ensure that schools and teachers are incentivised to promote and achieve the target results identified in the policies. This is also true of the future success of the Policy for Gaeltacht Education, which will be significantly dependent on the availability of teachers who are trained in the language and willing to work in immersion education settings.
  1. There is not an adequate supply of training programmes for student teachers nor is there any certainty that newly-qualified teachers will stay in the Irish-medium system if there is no recognition for the additional work that they would do.
  2. Standardised testing for Irish is required to be carried out in 2nd, 4th, and 6th class in Irish-medium schools, a requirement that does not apply to English-medium schools. It is good practice for teachers to undertake these tests annually in order to assess standards and identify challenges.

 

5 Ways for you to support the campaign

  1. Sign and Share our Petition

Gaeloideachas has created a petition calling on the Minister for Education to reintroduce the allowance for teaching through Irish. You can find the petition at this link and it is well worth signing it and sharing it with other teachers and on social media – the number of signatures will show the level of support for this call from teachers across the country and communities of Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools.

  1. Show Support Online

We are also undertaking activities on social media – Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, and Threads – to show the value of the additional work done by teachers in immersion education settings. We’re asking teachers to share a photo or tweet that shows the work they are doing, and to use the hashtag #LuachTríLiúntas.

  1. Email your Local Politicians

Which constituency do you live in? You can find your local TDs on this page and send them an email about the allowance, asking them to show their support and contact the Minister for Education. You are welcome to use some of the 10 reasons above as ideas to start your email.

  1. Submit a Motion at your Union Meeting

Teachers’ unions will soon be requesting motions to be submitted for their annual conferences, and members can submit motions through their local branches. Gaeloideachas recommends submitting a motion to your local branch to seek support from unions on this issue.

  1. Contact Gaeloideachas

Would you be interested in taking a more active role in this campaign? If you would be happy to speak to the media about the allowance if opportunities arise, or attend meetings between Gaeloideachas and a local politician in your area, send an email to eolas@gaeloideachas.ie including your name, your school, and your constituency (and/or the school’s constituency).