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Language Support Services.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 14 February 2007

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Ceisteanna (280)

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

342 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Science the further contacts by her officials with the management of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 in respect of the challenges faced by the schools regarding the international children; her proposals to respond to the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5666/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

In order to meet the language needs of students in our schools whose first language is not English additional support is given to their schools which can take the form of financial assistance, additional teaching posts or portions of posts. The level of extra financial or teaching support provided to any school is determined by the numbers of eligible non-English speaking students enrolled. The additional language support to an individual pupil is generally given for a period of two years.

Schools with between 3 and 13 eligible pupils receive grant assistance towards the cost of employing part-time teachers. Schools with 3 to 8 such pupils receive a grant of over €6,300, while schools with between 10 and 13 such pupils receive over €9,500. Over €4 million is being provided for such grants in 2007.

Schools with 14 or more such pupils are entitled to one or more language support teachers, the number of which has increased dramatically in recent years. There are now approximately 1,250 language support teachers in our schools. More than 400 of these teachers have been allocated in the current school year alone. As I announced last November, 200 extra posts were approved by the Government for 2007, bringing to 1,450 the number of language teachers that will be working in our schools this year. This compares with just 262 posts in the 2001/02 school year.

In line with the Government's commitments under the ‘Towards 2016' partnership agreement, a further 350 language support teachers will be provided between 2008 and 2009. In allocating additional teachers, I will be addressing in particular the position of those schools catering for significant numbers of such children.

Finally, as the Deputy will be aware, a comprehensive strategy is currently being finalised which will ensure that the extra investment in this area is being used to the best effect, and that it is underpinned by the right support and training for teachers.

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