Tuesday 22 October 2019

41 nationalities -- only four English teachers

Katherine Donnelly

A school in west Dublin, with 371 children from newcomer families of 41 different nationalities, may qualify for only four English language support teachers because of cutbacks.

The 905-pupil Scoil An Chroi Ro Naofa Iosa, Huntstown, is typical of many schools in Dublin 15, which developed rapidly in recent years, becoming home to thousands of immigrants who followed a dream of a life in Ireland at the height of the boom.

Principal Sean Dempsey said they tested all their international pupils last month with an assessment kit devised by the Department of Education and found that 327 needed language support, of varying degrees.

However, the application of a new weighting system issued by the department in recent weeks would allow only for a lower number of 256 pupils receiving support.

The school currently has six English language support teachers, and Mr Dempsey said even that was inadequate and to do it properly would require 20.

They complained to the department that the new system results in an unjust and unfair situation where a pupil may be counted as half a child or one-third of a child.

Mr Dempsey asked: "Does the department see these children attending support every second or third day or do they see a class/group size being doubled and tripled?"

He described the proposed new levels of English language support as inadequate and derisory, which would leave children quickly becoming despondent when they failed to make significant advances.

Mr Dempsey also pointed out that even though many children on the language support lists were born in Ireland, they had come from homes where English was not spoken and their only encounter with the language was in school.

He said the children who did not receive adequate language support were unable to participate fully in school life and often became targets for racist comments and exploitation.

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