Gaeloideachas congratulates the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe Mc Hugh, TD, who today announced that five of the fourteen new schools due to open in the 2020-2022 period will be Irish-medium schools, as a result of significant and historic changes to the way new schools are established. These schools will serve communities in north and south Dublin, and will provide Irish-medium education and all the benefits that being bilingual brings to thousands of children for years to come.
The process to establish new schools is to change in two major ways:
- If there is no existing Irish-medium provision in a school planning area, and a new primary school is being established to meet demographic demand, the new school will be designated as a gaelscoil, and;
- Where a number of new primary schools are due to be established in the same school planning area during the period 2019-2022, at least one of these schools in that school planning area will be Irish-medium.
“This is a really big day for Irish-medium education” said Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of Gaeloideachas. “The Minister’s decision shows how important it is to have a process to establish new schools that supports parents’ wishes, as research has shown that 23% would choose an Irish-medium primary school for their children if there was one available. The revised process also supports the State’s policy to promote Irish, and we hope that their vision will extend to immediate revision of the process to establish post-primary schools as well, especially with regard to ‘aonaid’, Irish-medium units in English-medium schools”.
The Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of a coordinated campaign by a number of partners in the Irish-language and education sector, including Gaeloideachas, patron organisation An Foras Pátrúnachta, Conradh na Gaeilge, the Irish Language Commissioner and all of the parents who supported campaigns for Irish-medium schools since the process was put in place. “These changes are being made thanks to the efforts of every parent who stood up for the education and language rights of their child” said ní Ghréacháin “and Gaeloideachas will continue to support them, as well as the staff in naíonraí and schools, to make sure that an excellent standard of Irish-medium education is available at all three levels for everyone who chooses it”.
Gaeloideachas is hopeful that more than five new Irish-medium schools will be established through this process. The Department have listed nine other areas in which new schools are to open in the 2020-2022 period. Decisions on the patronage and language ethos of these schools will be made following consultations with parents in each area, and while there are Irish-medium schools already in the school planning areas, that does not mean that those schools can accommodate all of the children applying for places in them. Campaigns for new Irish-medium schools will be happening not only in Dublin, but also in Kildare, Kilkenny and Cork, in an effort to make sure that children in those areas will have equal access to Irish-medium education.
Gaeloideachas looks forward to working with the prospective patrons for these new schools, and we’re especially looking forward to welcoming all of the new school communities when they open in a year’s time.