Detrimental Addendum to Circular 0044/2007 Withdrawal

Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the recent decision of the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD, to withdraw the controversial Circular 0044/2007 which sought to outlaw the long-established and highly regarded practice of early total immersion in Irish-medium schools throughout the state, but warns against an addendum to this decision which seeks to ensure that an individual parent can demand that formal English tuition be provided in junior infant classes in any school practising early immersion education through Irish.

Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "Conradh na Gaeilge believes that the proposal that an individual parent may demand that formal English tuition be provided in infant classes, regardless of the Gaelscoil or Gaeltacht school's long established practice, is out of order.

"This addendum by an officer of the Department of Education and Science to the decision to withdraw circular 0044/2007 challenges common sense, and has no basis in the Education Act in its entirety."

Conradh na Gaeilge strongly supported the schools that challenged Circular 0044/2007 by seeking a judicial review in the High Court, and congratulates parents, teachers, schools, and in particular the applicants in this case, for their defence of the internationally-recognised practice of early total immersion education, a model that has been available through Irish in the state since its foundation.

Referring to the addendum to the Department of Education's decision to withdraw Circular 0044/2007, Conradh na Gaeilge's President says: "Conradh na Gaeilge does not believe that the immersion education ethos of a school should have to be reviewed anew every year on the demand of an individual parent, and we ask why we have had ongoing interference with Irish-medium schools, schools which continually achieve the highest educational standards."

Julian de Spáinn, Conradh na Gaeilge's General Secretary says: "Conradh na Gaeilge is asking the Department of Education and Science to provide every support for Irish medium education, and the teaching of Irish and Irish teachers generally, throughout the system, as has been delineated in the recently published 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

"Conradh na Gaeilge believes that the Department should have a policy of informing and educating teachers and trainee teachers, and parents, regarding the advantages of early immersion education, and should provide information and training resources towards this end."

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
066 7124169 / 087 2901154

Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
01 4757401 / 086 8142757

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Circular 0044/2007
Circular 0044/2007, issued by the Department of Education and Science in July 2007, obliged Irish-medium schools to teach 2.5 hours of English every week from the beginning of second term at the latest in junior infants' class, thus abolishing a practice acceptable since the foundation of the state, and ignoring international best practice in total immersion education.

This prevented Irish-medium schools from implementing early total immersion, a practice in which the teaching of formal English is delayed in junior and senior infants until the child is better able to communicate through Irish.

The Department of Education and Science took the decision to withdraw the circular 0044/2007 in January 2010 following a campaign by the Irish-language movement, and in light of the case due to go to the High Court at the end of that month.

Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn, Tralee, Gaelscoil Nás na Rí, Co. Kildare, and An Foras Pátrúnachta, a national patronage body for Irish-medium primary schools, sought a judicial review in the High Court of the Department of Education's decision. In the negotiations pertaining to the case, the Department agreed to pay the legal fees of all groups involved.

However, an addendum to the decision to withdraw Circular 004/2007 proposes to allow an individual parent to demand that formal English tuition be provided in infant classes, regardless of a Gaelscoil's (or Gaeltacht school's) long established practice.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge