Friday 26 April 2019

New figures reveal 10pc of primary pupils born overseas

John Walshe Education Editor

THE great ethnic divide in Irish education is revealed today for the first time.

Some 10pc of pupils in primary education -- around 44,000 in all -- were born outside the State but they are not evenly distributed across the nation's 3,200 schools.

A quarter of primaries, or some 820, have none at all, a half have up to 10pc and the remaining quarter have anything up to 70pc of overseas students.

The startling Department of Education and Science figures prompted warnings last night that the cuts in language support services in September will have a devastating effect on attempts to integrate non-Irish into schools -- and society at large.

Under new rules, schools which could have had up to six language support teachers at present will be limited to just two from September, with only a few exceptions. Among the findings of the census of more than 3,100 primary schools are:

  • One in 10 primary school pupils were born outside of Ireland; 23,226 came from other EU countries and 20,703 from outside the EU.

  • More than 50pc of pupils in 12 schools are non-Irish.

  • Most Irish-language gaelscoileanna have either no non-nationals or only a tiny minority.

  • A quarter of the pupils in schools in Dublin 15 do not have Irish citizenship (7.7pc are from other EU countries and 16.7pc from outside the EU).

  • Full details of the intake into the schools is available on the Irish Independent's website:

    The data is based on estimates prepared by individual principals who were asked to supply details of the numbers of children in their schools born in Ireland and elsewhere. A few did not give any figures.

    The overall findings were given by the department to Labour finance spokesperson Joan Burton, TD for Dublin West, who said the Government, particularly former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Tanaiste Mary Harney, had encouraged a massive amount of immigration into areas like Dublin West, which would cost in years to come if essentials like language education were reduced.

    "Cutting back on language support is a very short-sighted decision. We all know that money is tight, but giving more flexibility might have a better outcome for everyone.

    "Just as the Government was very bad in planning for school provision for these children, now that they are in the schools , they are failing them again," she said.

    One of the schools with the biggest intake of newcomers is Scoil an Chroí Ró Naofa Íosa in Huntstown, Co Dublin, which has 905 pupils, of whom 371 are from 41 different countries.

    Its principal Seán Ó Díomasaigh said the new circular on language support teachers was a cynical exercise designed to save money and not to address the needs of pupils with language needs.

    The department insisted last night that schools with a significant concentration of newcomer pupils would get extra resources.


    "The alleviation measures mean that these schools can qualify for up to four language support posts with the possibility of additional post(s) also being approved through the independent staffing appeals mechanism," said a spokesperson.

    But the Irish National Teachers' Organisation claimed that up to 500 language support teachers could be lost to the system -- at present there are about 2,000 teachers at primary and post primary teaching English as an additional language.

    "Next year, very few schools will get more than two English language teachers," said INTO general secretary John Carr. "This will be devastating for schools with large numbers of international children." He also said many small schools would lose teachers.

    Mr Carr added that the net result would be thousands of children unable to achieve a quality education because of the cutbacks.

    "It should be obvious that children who cannot understand English cannot learn mathematics or geography through English. Clearly, the minister, Batt O'Keeffe, has yet to realise this," he added.

    View full data on pupils by nationality at individual school level, 2007/2008

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