Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Education and Skills

School Staffing

Photo of Maureen O'SullivanMaureen O'Sullivan (Dublin Central, Independent)
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395. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her views on estimates that 10% to 12% of children attending Irish schools both primary and secondary schools are from an immigrant background and in many cases English is not the first language; if it is therefore a cause for concern that positions such as English language support posts have been reduced and also pre-service English additional language is only available to teachers on a very limited scale; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46986/14]

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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Teacher allocations are approved annually in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment.

Reforms introduced in the 2012/13 school year created a single simplified allocation process for both learning and language support. At primary level, learning/language support hours are allocated on the basis of mainstream classroom teaching posts in the school. At post-primary level, learning/language support is allocated on the basis of pupil numbers. Schools have autonomy to deploy this resource between learning support and language support depending on the specific needs of the school.

The new arrangements also provided for additional permanent teaching posts to be given to schools with high concentration of pupils that require language support. Further additional temporary support is also provided, as necessary, to schools that have high concentrations of pupils (at least 20% of total enrolment) that require language (EAL) support. These allocations are made on the basis of appeals by any of these schools to the Staffing Appeals Board. The appeal criteria are set out in the published staffing arrangements.

The Teaching Council's criteria for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) sets out the mandatory elements to be contained in all Initial Teacher Education Programmes. These include Inclusive Education, (Special Education, Multiculturalism, Disadvantage, etc) Literacy, Numeracy and Differentiation. The Council's criteria does not overly prescribe what should be covered in programmes, rather, the approach is that ITE is about the development of critical core skills, which can then be applied to any range of issues in the classroom, possibly with the benefit of further up-skilling post-qualification.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers offer workshops and school support in the area of EAL to primary schools. The purpose of the workshops is to provide key information on EAL to both language support teachers and teachers supporting children with EAL under the general allocation model. At post-primary level, support is made available to schools on request in the area of EAL and work on literacy incorporates aspects of EAL in many cases.


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