Secondary schools on all the Aran Islands will receive an extra €15,000 a year and additional teachers under the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme.
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton announced the package of supports for post-primary island schools in the Aran Islands this week. The Recognition Scheme aims to improve the quality of Irish Language education in its Gaeltacht heartland.
“I am acutely aware of the challenging environment in which island post-primary schools operate,” he said, “Which is why, as part of our Policy on Gaeltacht Education, we are supporting these schools with additional resources to meet their unique circumstances.”
Coláiste Naoimh Eoin on Inis Meáin is also being turned into a fully independent school with its own principal and vice-principal. The Gaelscoil used to be designated as an Aonad (Language Unit). As an independent school it will qualify for more grants and capital from the GRETB.
The GRETB is required to create an action plan with specific improvement targets for each school when allocating resources under the Recognition Scheme. A grant of €1,200 will be given to each school when its improvement plan is approved.
From September 2018 onwards the teacher allocation for all island secondary schools in the Recognition Scheme will be increased. Addtional funding for Irish language teaching materials, Irish training for teachers, and language support hours will also be made available.
There are five Gaeltacht islands that fall under the Recognition Scheme; Inis Meáin, Inis Mór, and Inis Oírr in Galway, and Árainn Mhór and Toraigh islands in Donegal.
“The islands are valuable communities and this money demonstrates a clear vision for their Irish language medium schools to be properly resourced and to expand and improve the teaching of key subjects such as the sciences,” said Minister for the Irish Language, Gaeltacht, and Islands Joe McHugh.
“I know this will make a huge difference to communities on the islands off Donegal and Galway and will be a welcome boost to the teachers, equipping children and teenagers with the skills they need for the future.”
The government launched a Policy on Gaeltacht Education in 2016 as part of a larger goal of making Irish schools among the best in Europe by 2026. Funding for the Policy increased from €1 million in 2017 to €2.3 million this year.