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Gael Linn are very concerned by the deficiencies identified by Chief Inspector, Harold Hislop regarding the teaching of Irish in his recent report

Gael Linn are very concerned by the deficiencies identified by Chief Inspector, Harold Hislop regarding the teaching of Irish in his recent report
Gael Linn
8 February 2018
Remedial action required to improve Irish language teaching
Gael Linn are very concerned by the deficiencies identified by Chief Inspector, Harold Hislop regarding the teaching of Irish in his recent report *. Results from 5,000 inspections between 2013 and 2016 indicate that the standard of teaching and learning Irish is not satisfactory in schools both at primary and secondary levels. The Chief Inspector’s findings correspond with those of an earlier Gael Linn report (January 2018). **There is now abundant evidence confirming that fundamental problems exist regarding the teaching of the Irish. There is, however, an apparent unwillingness on the behalf of successive governments to take the necessary action to resolve these issues. It is regrettable that no substantive remedial measures were announced by Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton (7 February), as part of the Department’s action plan for 2018. ***
Primary Schools: The Chief Inspector found the teaching of Irish to be “very good or better” in 12% of schools compared with 27% for English and 33% for Mathematics. 28% of Irish lessons observed were unsatisfactory (compared with 4% for Maths and 7% for English).
Post-Primary Schools: The Chief Inspector found the standard of learning Irish ‘very good’ in 28% of schools compared with 34% for English and 41% for Maths. He states that 21% of Irish lessons observed were ‘less than satisfactory’ (compared with 12% for Maths and 17% for English).
Gael Linn consider these findings particularly disappointing as negative trends were identified as far back as 2010-2012 and no effective remedial action has been taken. It is clear from the Chief Inspector’s latest report and Gael Linn’s report also that more opportunities for in-service up-skilling for teachers and more opportunities for pupils to use the Irish language in a meaningful way must be supported. The Department of Education and Skills must provide more high quality teaching and learning resources. It is also essential that the curriculum is enhanced at Irish at primary level and that more research is undertaken to establish best practice for post-primary schools.
With regard to the new programme for Irish at Junior Cycle, Gael Linn believe that it was a retrograde step to remove the oral examination (from September 2017). The Department of Education and Skills should carry out a meaningful consultation with teachers; many teachers have informed Gael Linn that they are in favour of retaining the Irish oral for Junior Certificate students.
Gael Linn and other organisations have long been calling for a more effective approach to teacher training for the Irish language. The educational institutions themselves are not at fault here but rather the system itself. From Gael Linn’s own research, it is clear that student teachers do not have enough contact time with their Irish language lecturers.
It is also widely accepted that more and longer Gaeltacht courses would benefit students in acquiring the essential level of Irish. Currently, student teachers must pay for their Gaeltacht courses and this expense is an extra burden for them.
The Chief Inspector’s report recommends schools engage in more opportunities for using Irish at both primary and secondary levels. Gael Linn provide a wide range of opportunities to use Irish for teaching and learning across the country at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Gael Linn has a waiting-list of schools wishing to be included in the Gaelbhratach scheme. All Gael Linn’s schemes for schools place the emphasis on communication and enjoyment of Irish. (Further information about Gael Linn support schemes for learning and teaching Irish can be found here www.gael-linn.ie )
In keeping with the title on the Chief Inspector’s Report, Excellence in Learning for All, the Government must now take the necessary action so that the Irish language is given due recognition and support in our education system. We cannot fail yet another cohort of pupils. Children are entitled to a positive experience of the Irish language if ‘Bliain na Gaeilge’ is to have any lasting legacy.
* https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Evaluation-Reports-Guidelines/insp_chief_inspectors_report_2013_2016.pdf
**Tuairisc ar an Ghaeilge sa Chóras Oideachais i bPoblacht na hÉireann (Gael Linn, 2018)http://www.gael-linn.ie/nuacht?nid=665
*** Action Plan for Education 2018, Dept of Education and Science (2018)
Further Information: Gael Linn eolas@gael-linn.ie or 01- 6751200

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