The largest patron of Irish-medium schools in the country, An Foras Pátrúnachta (AFP) today announced that it intends to apply for the patronage of 13 new primary schools - including two in Co Kildare - due to open in 2019.
The new schools were confirmed by the Department of Education and Skills earlier this year.
Eight of the primary schools to open in 2019 will be in Dublin, with two in Kildare and one each in Wicklow, Meath and Cork. The process for awarding patronage of these schools will be confirmed by the Department of Education and Skills in the coming weeks and is based around parental demand and provision of choice.
The announcement by AFP today was made at an event to mark the launch of its Gaelscoil4All campaign which aims to ensure all children in Ireland have the option to attend a gaelscoil.
Speaking at the campaign launch, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, Caoimhín Ó hEaghra said: “The demand for places in Gaelscoileanna continues to grow at a rapid rate with many of our schools oversubscribed. We hear regularly from parents who wish they could send their child to an Irish-medium school but don’t have that option available to them, and that demand is backed by national research. It is fitting that we’re launching this campaign during Bliain na Gaeilge, the year-long, State-supported programme to celebrate 125 years of the revival of the Irish language. In line with this programme, AFP’s vision is to provide all children with the opportunity to access Irish-medium education of the highest quality. In order to do this, we need more schools.”
An Foras Pátrúnachta is currently the patron for over 70 schools in 22 counties across Ireland. It was established to provide choice for parents, recognising the rights of parents to enrol their children in a school with a spiritual ethos that reflects their beliefs. From its inception, AFP has provided parents with this choice by establishing schools of differing spiritual ethos such as multi-denominational, inter-denominational or Catholic.
Mr Ó hEaghra added: “AFP is committed to providing choice for parents who want Irish-medium education with their preferred ethos. Our schools are equality-based, diverse and welcoming of all pupils regardless of their socio-economic background, religious beliefs or ethnicity. We support our schools in providing excellent education, and in creating and fostering an Irish-speaking community. The particular talents of individual pupils are recognised, nurtured and developed through the continuous work and support provided by our teaching staff. This is reflected in the excellent academic achievements of students in AFP schools.”
As a leading organisation in the Irish language sector, Conradh na Gaeilge is supporting today’s announcement by An Foras Pátrúnachta. General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, Julian de Spáinn, said: “AFP’s Irish language ethos and immersion education policy have played a pioneering role in the development and education of the Irish-speaking community that is thriving in Ireland today. Advocacy, education and empowering communities are three of the core work areas of Conradh na Gaeilge, and these tie in closely with AFP’s campaign for more Gaelscoileanna.”
The campaign will also have support from Gaeloideachas, the member organisation for Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools, who provide support and advocacy on behalf of school communities.
Information for parents interested in a new gaelscoil for their area can be found on the campaign website, www.Gaelscoil4All.ie, along with answers to parents’ most frequently asked questions about gaelscoileanna, and further information on how the patronage of the 13 new schools will be determined.
For more information on AFP, its ethos models and the benefits of Irish-immersion education, see www.foras.ie. For more information on Conradh na Gaeilge, seewww.cnag.ie, and for more on Gaeloideachas, see www.gaeloideachas.ie.
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