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Calls for 'change to current system' of teaching Irish in schools

After a review found many students would like to see Irish dropped as a Leaving Cert subject, Conradh na Gaeilge has warned the introduction of a policy promoting the education of the subject is urgently needed.

A recent review of senior education, published this week by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), found mixed-views on retaining Irish as a mandatory Leaving Cert subject.

Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Julian de Spáinn said that, with the students taking part in the review nearing the end of their secondary school education, it wouldn’t be “surprising” to see their frustration with how the subject is taught.

“We need a change to the current system,” Mr de Spáinn said. “There has never been a policy for the promotion and education of the language from preschool to third-level in the history of the State.

The Government and the Minister for Education now need to create that policy.”

Students surveyed by Conradh na Gaeilge previously have been in favour of keeping Irish as a core Leaving Cert subject, he added.

The feedback we got from students who weren’t in favour of keeping Irish compulsory usually thought the language wasn’t useful or that it was too difficult but those are things that can be changed.

Assessing and teaching Irish through the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) would help with this, he said, adding that the CEFR assess each student on their own ability.

Allowing students to study different modules of Irish, like culture and the language, as well as literature, as suggested in the review, would also be helpful, Mr de Spáinn added.

With research showing that Irish students experience high levels of stress and anxiety due to the “high-stakes” nature of their final State exams, a call for a greater emphasis on promoting wellbeing also emerged during the course of the NCCA review.

Details of the review so-far and the associated documents can be found on www.ncca.ie. Submissions can be made to the NCCA on the review’s findings until November 1.