Northern Ireland

Irish school will employ teachers with basic language skills to help plug subject gaps

A RAPIDLY growing Irish-medium post-primary school hopes to help tackle a shortage of subject specialists by appointing staff who have basic language skills.

Dozens of new teaching jobs are to be created in the next few years as the Irish language sector expands.

This week, Gaelcholáiste Dhoire in Dungiven, Co Derry placed advertisements detailing up to 11 classroom posts.

The hope is that every subject will be taught through Irish, but the school said it was becoming increasingly difficult to source teachers in some areas.

Campaigners predict the overall number of post-primary pupils in the sector is to increase significantly.

Dungiven Castle, home to Gaelcholáiste Dhoire 
Dungiven Castle, home to Gaelcholáiste Dhoire  Dungiven Castle, home to Gaelcholáiste Dhoire 

In addition to Coláiste Feirste in Belfast, there are three units in English post-primaries and Gaelcholáiste Dhoire, which opened in 2015.

There are also plans for a satellite campus of Coláiste Feirste in north Belfast.

Read More: Growing Irish language sector targeting teachers

Gaelcholáiste Dhoire has grown from 13 pupils in 2015 to about 180 this year. It is predicted it could rise to 500 pupils in six years.

Principal Diarmaid Ua Bruadair said there would be numerous job openings and candidates should not be put off if they thought their language skills were insufficient.

The school plans to adopt an approach taken in the Basque region and Scotland where on-the-job training will improve teachers' proficiency.

It is hoping to recruit staff from the English-medium sector, recent graduates and those with some Irish.

Mr Ua Bruadair said subject specialists with basic Irish could be funded to work in schools while at the same time supported to improve their fluency.

"Each year over the next number of years the school will require 3-5 teachers. It is envisaged that this will be mirrored across the north as a new post-primary campus is planned for north Belfast and other areas may follow suit," he said.

"It must also be considered that the Irish-medium units are constantly working to increase the percentage of the curriculum that is being delivered through Irish in their units and in fact some may possibly become stand-alone full immersion schools over the course of the coming years."

Gaelcholáiste Dhoire appointed four teachers in 2018 and will appoint five this year, including senior leadership positions.

"We are keen to raise awareness of the fact that there are more jobs today for Irish speakers than ever before," Mr Ua Bruadair said.

"As parents opt for Irish-medium education for their children in ever increasing numbers it is essential that steps are taken to ensure that teachers and other education professionals are trained to meet that demand.

"Gaelcholáiste Dhoire are keen to speak to subject specialists who have a certain competence in the Irish language and would consider working in the Irish-medium sector.

"The school will provide a timetabled support package for such teachers to develop their language skills and confidence in delivering the curriculum through the medium of Irish."