independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Changing times as school finds no Irish-born pupils enrolling

CHANGES in the population were brought into focus yesterday when a Dublin school revealed there isn't a single Irish-born pupil among those enrolled in its infant classes for next year.

The school is in the north inner city, where already nearly half the pupils are minority ethnic and language students, and that percentage is rising.

Figures from eight local schools in the Dublin 7 area show that there are 1,839 pupils enrolled this year -- of whom nearly half, or 855, are minority ethnic and language students.

In one of the schools, 63pc of pupils are from an ethnic minority. Another school with only 292 pupils has 26 minority languages students, while a third with 378 pupils has 25 languages spoken, according to a report launched yesterday.

The report does not identify the school where no Irish have applied for places in September, but says that may change as demand for places increases.

Schools in the report indicated a rise in the number of languages presenting in addition to the increase in overall numbers.

Variety

Increasing variety in the ethnic and national groups applying for education for their children -- and the languages they speak -- is expected to present an ongoing challenge to schools and local communities.

Dublin 7 is identified as an area of educational disadvantage by the report, which took account of literacy, early school leaving, access to education, academic under-achievement and underdevelopment of interpersonal and social skills.

"For minority language students, these are more likely to become significant factors in their educational experience. They have the added disadvantage of potentially poor communication and connectivity between school and home. Such connectivity has been clearly established as a key factor in supporting children to achieve in the school ," according to the evaluation report for a School Cultural Mediation Project.

It adds that the north inner city has a significantly higher than average number of ethnic minority residents, standing at 34pc of the population -- or three times the national average, according to the 2006 Census.

In response to this level of need, an innovative schools project was started by the Dublin Inner City Partnership in conjunction with the North West Inner City Network (with a range of other agencies advising).

This pilot project provided translation and interpretation services to minority language parents in ten schools in the North West Inner City during the past school year.

The evaluation report found that the project "has succeeded in opening channels of communication".

Over the past school year, the project was responsible for translating 75 school policy documents and 250 other documents into languages spoken by parents with a poor command of English. It provided interpretation services at 20 group meetings and at 350 one-to-one parent-teacher meetings.

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