The Irish News reports that a small rural primary school has had its proposal to become the first to switch from the English to Irish language sector rejected.
St MacNissius’ PS in Tannaghmore, Co Antrim wanted to officially deliver its education through the medium of Irish from September.
The school had already started offering Irish-medium education. Last year it launched its first `Rang a hAon’ (P1) with 12 pupils, its largest intake in years. There were 35 pupils in total at the school last year.
To be known as Bunscoil na Tamhnaí Móire, the school said it represented a fantastic opportunity to give children “the chance to become bilingual”. There is already a successful Irish nursery operating in the area – Naíscoil na Tamhnaí Móire.
Principal Máire Darragh said there was significant interest in learning through Irish and she expected pupil numbers to grow. She said the school also had transport in place to benefit children from the Antrim and Randalstown areas.
However, the proposal has been rejected by the Department of Education.
Rejecting the bid, department permanent secretary Derek Baker said “We should of course encourage innovation. I am conscious too of the department’s statutory duties in respect of Irish-medium provision. However, I note the issues identified regarding concerns for the quality of educational provision of those pupils currently receiving English-medium provision while it is phased out, along with concerns regarding the educational and financial sustainability of the proposed future Irish-medium provision.”
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