Thursday, March 08, 2007

Demand soars for all-Irish schools

Niamh Horan:

THE demand for Irish-speaking schools has surged with one principal saying a reason for the increase was that they ruled out a "certain element" present in other local schools.

But the Gaelscoil principals deny "anecdotal evidence" that some parents are sending their children to all-Irish schools to avoid having contact with the growing number of immigrant children in the national school system.

With waiting lists for some all-Irish schools stretching as far as 2011 and 65 more all-Irish schools opening in the past 10 years, a number of principals at Irish schools have been slow to go on the record to discuss the reasons behind the upsurge in demand for places.

When asked if some parents were enrolling their children into Gaelscoileanna because of the number of immigrants in ordinary national schools, one principal said it was "very possible".

"I know it has been said to me before, not in relation to the new nationals but in relation to the general problems that would be in certain deprived areas. In that you wouldn't get the same sort of problem mix or problem spectrum in a Gaelscoil and there might be a certain element involved in sending your child to a particular school."

He went on to confirm that "it was mentioned to me in passing" that it was a way of avoiding the local school if some parents weren't happy with it.

Another All-Irish school principal said his school had been inundated with hundreds of applications from eager parents trying to enrol their children.

"We would be turning away at least one class every year. We just don't have the room. I can take in 30 people next year and I have 110 on the list for those places. And I have every class full up to 2011. I have twice as many trying to get in as the number I can take in."

Big hike in all-Irish schools as Gaeilge becomes trendy


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