Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Ceisteanna (269)

Gerry Adams


269. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the enrolment numbers needed to establish a standalone Gaelcholáiste with a roll number and principal. [23877/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In the 20-Year strategy for the Irish Language - Action Plan 2018-2022, the Department of Education and Skills is the lead organisation on the action to provide opportunities to support the expansion of Irish-medium education in areas outside the Gaeltacht in the context of the establishment of 42 new schools in the period 2019 to 2022. In this regard, consideration is afforded to Irish-medium education provision as part of the new schools patronage process in relation to the establishment of Gaelscoileanna, Gaelcholáistí and Aonaid Lán-Ghaeilge (Irish-medium Units).

Following the April 2018 announcement of the establishment of 42 new schools from 2019 to 2022, my Department has developed a new Online Patronage Process System, which provides objective information and allows parents to express their preferences in relation to the patronage and language of instruction, i.e. Irish or English, of these new schools.  Parental preferences, as well as other considerations such as the extent of diversity of provision in an area (including Irish-medium provision), are key to the decision-making process and in relation to whether the school will take the form of a Gaelcholáiste or whether, if English-medium, the school would include an Irish-medium unit or "Aonad".  A lower threshold  may apply to the establishment of a new Gaelcholáiste compared to the usual threshold of 600 to 1,000 for English-medium schools but as a minimum it would need to indicate a demand of in the region of 350 to 400 pupils.

In relation to existing Irish-medium Aonaid, if enrolment numbers and output from any Irish-medium primary schools in an area increase to a level which would warrant the transition to a stand-alone Gaelcholáiste, the Department would be open to considering a case from the school patron to transition from an Aonad to a Gaelcholáiste.