New rules on Irish language to be introduced in schools in September
Changes in the rules around granting Irish exemptions for school pupils are to be introduced in the new school year.
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh announced new criteria for schools to grant students an exemption from studying Irish.
Following an extensive public consultation earlier this year on draft revisions to the system, revised circulars for primary and post-primary schools will take effect for the 2019/2020 school year.
The revised circulars will be issued in September and will replace existing rules on exemptions, which date back more than 25 years.
Under the new system, pupils in special schools and special classes will be automatically exempted.
Students with special needs or learning disabilities in mainstream schools will no longer require a psychologist’s report, something which may have cost parents up to €600 in the past.
Exemptions in schools will be awarded by principals but there will also be an appeals system in place for students, the first time this option is available.
McHugh said the changes to the system were “long overdue” and would make the system “fairer and more supportive of students, while at the same time ensuring that all children have equal access to study the Irish language”.
The revised circulars are for implementation in English-medium schools only as students enrolled in Irish-medium schools and settings need to engage in the study of Irish in order to access the rest of the curriculum.