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Dept of Ed admits ignorance

  • 18-01-2023 7:52pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,784 ✭✭✭

    It seems that the government is doing a survey/consultation process about Irish language education. Which is all well and good. So they produced a few documents about the matter, and I took a quick glance at one of them. As a child of mine will be up for secondary education in the next couple of years, I am interested in Post-Primary provision.

    Those of us who are lucky enough to live in the Gaeltacht or in one of the cities, will have Irish-language secondary education not too far away. Otherwise it seems to be the luck of the draw, with the big towns around the Dublin region and in the South-east being best served.

    If you live elsewhere though, you might find a school with an "aonad" or Irish-language stream somewhere not too far away. There are 22 of these schools around the country, with an attendance of over 13k pupils. Most counties have either a Gaelcholáiste or a school with an "aonad". So all is good, right?

    Well, not really. It seems as though these Irish-language streams might not be all they are made out to be. In the words of the Dept. of Ed's own report (page 23) "Reliable data is not available centrally on the actual numbers of students within English-medium post-primary schools who attend the aonaid themselves."

    One might well ask, when preparing this report - how come the Dept didn't actually ask the schools with these streams to give them current numbers on pupils in their Irish-language streams? It couldn't be that some of them are functionally defunct, while holding on to the extra teacher (1.18 WTE in fact) they are entitled to as a result of the extra stream? What has been called "an Irish solution to an Irish problem", in this case not really, though. A lack-of-Irish solution maybe?


  • Registered Users Posts: 195 ✭✭FoxForce5

    I'm always suspicious of the Irish language schools. I remember an article saying they have the least amount of diversity both religiously, ethnically and socio economically. Ironically the same article said Catholic schools were the complete opposite.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,682 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    The Department is unlikely to get a 100% response rate to such requests.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,660 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    I’ve neighbours from West Africa that sent all their children to our local Gaelscoil (where my children also go), but it makes sense that the vast majority of people from other countries won’t send their child to a school that uses a language that they don’t understand. Hardly suspicious. It’s difficult to help with homework when you can’t read the book, and they’re obviously not going to have the cultural attachment to the language. There’s plenty of kids in there with one Irish and one non-Irish parent, though.

    As for religion, about 10% of my eldest daughter’s class didn’t make their communion or confirmation, and I think there was a similar amount in my younger daughters’ communion class. Obviously I don’t know the religious/non-religious mix of that 10%.

    No idea about the socio-economic breakdown.

    Gaelscoil stats are also going to be skewed due to the fact that there’s much fewer of them than regular national schools, they naturally have a niche offering, and most are relatively new, so they don’t have the legacy of parent (and even grandparents) having gone there and sending their children to the same school they went to (which is a big thing in parts of Ireland).

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,784 ✭✭✭deirdremf

    If they can tell you the enrollment in each and every school around the country, why is it so difficult to insist on numbers attending a special unit which allows 1.18 extra WTEs, particularly when the .18 WTE (4 hours weekly) is specifically for administrative purposes?

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,497 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    Anecdotally, I'd believe it.

    Gaelscoils are Ireland's state-enabled option for white-flight.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,682 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    Because principals are already flooded with administrative work and don’t have much spare time for filling in new forms.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,784 ✭✭✭deirdremf

    But isn't that what they are paid to do?

    Perhaps the extra 1.18 WTE should be denied until that form is submitted ...

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,784 ✭✭✭deirdremf

    I think you should take a look at the fee-paying schools if you believe this.

    You know, the ones that put all their assets in trusts and foundations when they realised that there might be some financial aspects to the various abuse scandals down the years. Financial aspects that haven't been adhered to by the religious orders (remember the "spiritan" scandal before Xmas? That's the "spiritans" that everyone calls the "Holy Ghost Fathers", rebranded and hidden in plain sight.)

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,682 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    They're often tied up doing the stuff that they're not paid to do, project managing building works, running fundraisers, dismissing teachers who defy court orders, that kind of thing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,497 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    They have administrative staff who are well capable of reporting on which strand a student is enrolled into, and whether they are attending class or not.

    Well they are if the strand actually exists.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 33,275 ✭✭✭✭Hotblack Desiato
    Golgafrinchan 'B' Ark

    It's not just fee paying schools which have gone down the trust route to shield assets from abuse claims. ERST etc.

    Vegetable rights and peace ✌️

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,682 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    And by ‘administrative staff’, you mean ‘one overworked and underpaid school secretary, who just last year won the absolute luxury of the clerical officer salary scale and paid annual leave, and who typically end up being the public face of the school to parents, dealing with payments, sick children and so much more’.

    Any submission to the Department is going to have to be signed off by the Principal, if not the Chairperson anyway.

    My point wasn’t about how overworked principals and secretaries are. My point was to answer the question that was asked - as to why the Department don’t have up to date information at their fingertips. Rightly or wrongly, that’s why the Department don’t have up to date information at their fingertips, because they rely on schools to submit. When you’re relying on 2,000 schools to submit information, it is never going to be 100% complete and accurate.