One of the aims of the Department's policy on Gaeltacht education in the period 2017 to 2022 is to increase the supply of newly qualified teachers with the competence to deliver high quality Irish medium education in schools, particularly in Gaeltacht school settings. The policy also seeks to improve the quality of teaching through Irish to ensure existing teachers' Irish language proficiency and pedagogical knowledge, skills and competence will be enhanced to a level that will equip them to deliver high quality Irish medium education. In that context, the Department has been working with the Office of Government Procurement, OGP, to develop a request for tenders for the design and delivery of two new Irish medium teacher education programmes, comprising a full-time four-year Irish medium initial teacher education B.Ed. primary teaching programme and a part-time two-year Irish medium M.Ed. postgraduate blended learning programme. It is expected that the successful tenderers will be announced in the coming weeks. The M.Ed. programme which will provide up to 30 places annually is due to commence from September 2018, while the B.Ed programme, also with up to 30 places annually, is due to commence from September 2019.
Also in implementing the policy, the Department made arrangements for the secondment from September 2017 of two additional teaching posts to the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas, MGO, programme at the National University of Ireland, Galway, NUIG, which is an Irish medium post-primary ITE programme. This initiative will allow for an increase in the supply of Irish medium post-primary teachers through a range of measures, including the upskilling of student teachers, outreach, online and blended learning opportunities in the second year of the programme.
I will shortly announce the establishment of a teacher supply steering group to consider teacher supply issues at primary and post-primary level, including the provision of adequate numbers of teachers in key subject areas such as Irish.