Written answers

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Department of Education and Skills

School Curriculum

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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964. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the plans that are in place to mainstream and or implement the content language integrated learning pilot on a national basis and, in particular, for secondary schools that are already providing Irish medium education outside Gaeltacht areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29353/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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As set out in the 20-Year Strategy for Irish and the associated Action Plan 2018-2022, the Department of Education is currently piloting a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach as a means of extending opportunities for children in English-medium Early Learning and Care settings, primary and post-primary schools to experience partial-immersion in Irish.

As the Deputy is aware, the CLIL Irish project was announced in April 2019 as a three year project commencing in the 2019/20 school year. The first year of the project was designed as a developmental year during which CPD and resources were designed and developed to support participating educators and teachers. This first year also included the first in-setting and in-school phase during which a CLIL approach would be implemented.

Due to COVID-19 and the health advice current at the time it was necessary to postpone the in-setting and in-school phase of the project in 2019/20 and again in 2020/21. In light of this, the CLIL Steering Committee agreed to extend the project to 2024. My Department’s CLIL team, which includes experts from third level institutions and teacher education support services, continued to liaise with schools and settings throughout this period, and developed CLIL based resources in a number of subject areas, such as PE for primary schools, and a dedicated CLIL website www.jct.ie/content_and_language_integrated_learning_(CLIL)/home.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that seven Early Learning and Care settings, six primary schools and two post-primary schools are now approaching the end of the first phase of implementation of a CLIL approach to learning Irish and learning other aspects of the curriculum through Irish. The Early Learning and Care Settings focused on organising ‘Am Lóin’ activities through Irish. The Orienteering strand of the PE curriculum formed the focus at primary and subjects at post-primary school included Civic Social and Political Education, Social Personal and Health Education and PE. The experience of these settings and schools will be of great value in informing the next phase of the project.

The Department is committed to extending opportunities to other English-medium schools and settings to participate in this project. The Department is currently reaching out to schools and settings with a view to increasing participation next year.

The Deputy will appreciate that this project which is targeted, in line with the 20-Year Strategy for Irish, at English-medium schools and settings, is at too early a stage to allow any generalisation of findings. In due course, feedback gathered during the course of the project will inform decision making on CLIL as an approach to expanding children’s and young people’s engagement in learning through Irish. Feedback from the project could also prove useful in informing practice in Irish-medium settings.

The Department is also running a parallel CLIL project under Languages Connect, Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education which is being managed by Post Primary Languages Ireland in collaboration with Maynooth University: ppli.ie/teaching-and-learning/clil/


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