Derry Irish school `must be let to grow' to meet demand
AN Irish language primary school in Derry must be allowed to expand to meet increasing demand from parents, it has been urged.
A development proposal has been published on behalf of Gaelscoil Éadain Mhóir, which serves the Brandywell, Creggan and Bogside areas.
It is hoped the school can increase its enrolment to allow every child in its nursery to secure a place in P1.
At present, there are 26 children in the naíscoil but only 21 places in Rang a hAon.
A 'case for change' document supporting the bid said increasing numbers would bring admissions into line with "current and historical demand for places".
The school opened in 1998 with just six children but hoped to grow from 145 pupils to 182 by September 2018.
It is predicted that it could be educating as many as 208 children by 2021.
"It is vital to both the school and prospective parents who have chosen Irish-medium education for their children that there are sufficient places to cater for the pre-school cohort. Otherwise, confidence in the school would be undermined," the document states.
"Failure to reconcile the admissions number of both the naíscoil and gaelscoil could potentially have a detrimental effect upon primary intakes for the school in the future as there is a reasonable expectation amongst parents that a child in a statutory nursery should get a place within the primary school."
The Derry proposal is among numerous plans for expansion across the sector.
Others include the a proposal for a post-primary school in north Belfast and new pre-schools in Armagh, Swatragh and Toomebridge.
Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, the council for Irish-medium education, welcomed the continuing development of the sector.
It said it viewed the establishment of Naíscoil na Caille in Armagh City, Naíscoil na Fíobha in Toomebridge and Naíscoil Ghreanacháin in Swatragh as "irrefutable proof that the appetite for the provision of Irish-medium education continues unabated"
Chief executive Liam Ó Flanagáin said the developments also acted as a spur for other areas.
"These communities are mirroring the growth in demand for Irish-medium education throughout the north and these initial developments have the potential for further development," he said.
"None of this would have been possible without the financial support from Foras na Gaeilge and Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta who provided the necessary funding to make this provision possible."