One of the aims of my Department's Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 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 that existing teachers’ Irish-language proficiency and pedagogical knowledge, skills and competence are enhanced to a level that equips them to deliver high quality Irish-medium education.
In this context, my Department has been working with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to develop a Request for Tenders (RFT) 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 tenderer(s) will be announced in the coming weeks. The M.Ed., which will provide up to 30 places annually, is due to commence from September 2018, while the B.Ed, with also up to 30 places annually, is due to commence from September 2019.
Also in implementing the Policy, my Department made arrangements for the secondment from September 2017 of two additional teaching posts to the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) programme at 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 be announcing the establishment of a Teacher Supply Steering Group to consider teacher supply issues at primary and post-primary levels, including the provision of adequate numbers of teachers in key subject areas such as languages and STEM subjects. The Group will consult with key stakeholders.