Irish language education drive

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

Subject specialists in Northern Ireland secondary schools are being encouraged to make the switch to Irish language education.

The small but ever-growing Irish-medium post-primary sector says it needs more experts to fill several classroom posts over the next few years.

There are just two stand-alone Irish post-primary schools in Northern Ireland and a few units attached to English secondaries. But there are plans for a new college in north Belfast and campaigners predict rapid growth elsewhere.

Research from Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the Irish-medium council, predicts an almost 100 per cent rise over a 15-year period. This will require more qualified teachers with subject specialisms.

Irish-medium schools offer the Northern Ireland curriculum with the intention that all subjects are taught through Irish. Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven, Co Derry, is looking to fill up to 11 posts at present. The North’s newest secondary school, it opened with 13 pupils in 2015 and now educates about 180. It is predicted it could rise to 500 pupils in six years.

It is planning to adopt an approach taken in the Basque region of Spain and in Scotland where on-the-job training will improve teachers’ language proficiency. It says it hopes to recruit staff from the English-medium sector, recent graduates, and those with some Irish.


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