The value placed on teaching and learning of Irish in the newly-published Primary School Curriculum Framework questionable
“With the publication of the first ever primary school curriculum framework today, there is both hope for an innovative approach to the delivery of the curriculum and significant concern about a reduction of the status of teaching and learning of Irish in primary schools,” according to Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of Gaeloideachas.
Teaching time for Irish is to be reduced by 30 minutes per week in English-medium schools, and although the draft framework maintains that it is up to the teacher’s discretion to add additional time to Irish as part of the ‘flexible time’ in the curriculum, “we all know that this is hugely dependent on the teacher’s abilty, confidence, and attitude towards Irish,” said ní Ghréacháin.
The research published as part of this public consultation shows that Irish is not a preferred subject of primary school students in English-medium schools. The research also shows that Irish is among the favourite subjects of students in Irish-medium schools, “which confirms that there is a positive link between the contact time spent with the language, and positive attitudes towards it. It is a missed opportunity to not use these results as a way to increase contact time with the language through part-immersion education, where children would be immersed in the language for some subjects, and which would, consequently, foster positive attitudes towards it as a result.”
“Another result which should be expected from this,” said ní Ghréacháin, “is that the essential role that Irish-medium schools play in the development of positive attitudes towards Irish, leading to improved ability in the language, should be recognised. It has been clear for a long time that there is significant demand for Irish-medium schools, and it is time for the Department of Education to act on this and increase the opportunity for every child to have a positive experience of the Irish language.”
Gaeloideachas President, Micheál S Mac Donnacha said on foot of these developments “There is a need for a clear vision for Irish. Additionally, we need to place importance on the culture and heritage of the language and to celebrate this through the curriculum, particularly in a country with two official languages. There must be a high standard of Irish among students leaving all primary schools, as their standard of Irish will affect their learning experience at Junior Cycle level and onwards through the education system, and furthermore, it will have implications for the status of Irish in teacher training programmes.”
Notes for the editor
Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO| email@example.com | 01 8535195 | 086-8050335
Micheál S. Mac Donnacha, Uachtarán | firstname.lastname@example.org | 087-2891544
Gaeloideachas is the national lead-organisation that supports the development of Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools at primary and at post-primary level.
Gaeloideachas provides advice, assistance and support to people who wish to have their children educated through the medium of Irish, as well as support services for Irish-medium schools in Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht areas and naíonraí outside the Gaeltacht.