General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

Sign-up to E-News

Gaelscoil sector welcomes proposals


27/08/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

A shake-up of Irish-medium education will facilitate future growth of the sector rather than halt its progress, it has been claimed.

A major government review is expected to make more than 20 recommendations to present a "comprehensive, creative and strategic" way forward for Irish language schools.

A draft report seen by The Irish News suggests that existing small schools "urgently consider" formal link-ups with others to ensure their long-term viability.

These 'federation' arrangements would see two or more schools operating under one principal and a joint board of governors.

It has only been tried once before in the north, between English-medium schools in Co Derry.

Comhairle na Gaelscolaiochta - the council for Irish-medium (IM) schools - said it was confident having seen the draft report that the recommendations would be of benefit.

"The recommendations concerning units and federations are designed as mechanisms to facilitate and support parents groups wishing to set up IM provision," chief executive Sean O Coinn said.

"Through linkages with an existing, already established school, staff in the new Irish-medium school will benefit from the support of experienced staff, experienced leadership and being part of a firmly established institution."

These mechanisms, he said, were designed to help schools become stand-alone in future when they would have greater numbers of pupils and staff.

"The recommendations are designed to move away from current practice whereby, out of necessity, a new school will have only one teacher and classroom assistant in its first two years," Mr O Coinn said.

"Staff in new Irish-medium schools will be part of a staff team in the existing school and will be able to benefit in the early years of its existence, from the leadership and support of a well-established school. This will attract staff.

"This will also act to reassure parents thinking of sending their children to the new Irish-medium school."

Mr O Coinn said the recommendations would mean schools would no longer struggle to establish boards of governors as they would come under the governance of existing schools, either in units or federations.

"New principals will not have to be appointed until the new school has a suitable pool of applicants. At this stage the school will have the capacity to appoint a non-teaching principal," he said.

"Protocols will also be agreed that will allow the Irish-medium unit or federated school eventually to de-federate and become an established stand-alone Irish-medium school.

"The mechanisms are also designed to remove some of the uncertainties surrounding the long-term viability of a new school, thereby allowing the new school to qualify for support for capital costs from day one."



© Copyright 2006 i3 Digital