Dáil Éireann - Volume 512 - 01 December, 1999
Written Answers. - School Curricula.
Ms Fitzgerald Ms Fitzgerald
116. Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Education and Science his policy on the compulsory study of Irish; and the plans, if any, he has to modify this. [25229/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): The programme for Government accepts that it is a basic right of every citizen to be afforded the opportunity of enriching his or her heritage through the education system and, in general, through learning the Irish language and preserving it as widely as possible.
My policy on the teaching of Irish in schools is that which has applied since the foundation of the State. Irish is an important element of the school curricula at both first and second levels. All pupils are required to study the language unless granted an exemption on clearly specified grounds from doing so.
We in this country are the proud inheritors of a language which predates the introduction of English and is the vehicle for the transmission down through the ages of a rich vein of Gaelic culture, tradition and literature. The ability to speak the language is seen as our most distinctive badge of national identity. There are no plans to modify the position of Irish in the education system.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
117. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether streaming contributes to educational progress; and the policy position, if any, he has in relation to this practice in schools. [25224/99]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): Mixed ability grouping is by far the most common system of organisation. One of the principles of the revised primary curriculum recently issued to schools is that provision must be made for individual differences among children. These differences could include differences in style and pace of learning, as well as developmental differences and differences in ability and attainment. The curriculum documents are written to take account of these differences. Class-teaching, group-teaching and individual teaching are all advocated. The availability of supplementary  teaching from support teachers such as remedial and resource teachers for those who need it, is envisaged. Sections of the curriculum related to school planning take particular account of differences in ability. Assessment and evaluation of progress is strongly advocated as an essential link in the cycle of planning, teaching, learning and evaluating. Particular emphasis is placed on diagnostic assessment, whereby the difficulties being experienced by individual pupils can be clearly identified and appropriate measures taken to address them.
At second level, the preferred manner of organising educational experiences within the classroom is by means of mixed ability teaching. This is often used in smaller schools that wish to offer a wide range of subjects. However some schools consider it necessary and desirable to establish homogeneous class groups to meet the individual needs of some pupils. As at primary level the availability of supplementary help through remedial-resource teachers is also utilised in small group or one-to-one situations on occasion.
Dáil Éireann 512 Written Answers. School Curricula.