Dáil Éireann - Volume 658 - 03 July, 2008
Written Answers. - School Curriculum.
Deputy Martin Ferris Deputy Martin Ferris
Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has further plans to reform the provision of English as an additional language education in schools to cater for the varying levels of English of international students. [26345/08]
Deputy Conor Lenihan Deputy Conor Lenihan
Deputy Conor Lenihan: In May of 2007, the Department of Education and Science issued a circular to the Management Authorities in primary and post primary schools outlining the resources available to meet the varying levels of needs of pupils for whom English is a second language. This circular has facilitated a significant expansion in the appointment of language support teachers.
There are now almost 2,000 language support teachers in primary and post primary schools, at a cost of some €120 million per annum, compared with 262 in the 2001/02 school year. The circular removed a previous limit of two language support teachers per school.
It also extended the provision of language support beyond two years for a pupil, where a specific request is made to the Department. In fact, it is now possible for some schools with over 121 students with English language needs to have 6 language support teachers. Schools with less than the 14 such pupils needed to qualify for one support teacher are provided with financial resources to assist them. In addition to providing additional teachers a number of other steps have been taken.
Two copies of the “Primary School Assessment Kit”, prepared by Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT) have been circulated by my Department to all primary schools in recent weeks. This kit will enable teachers to carry out initial and on-going assessments of the language proficiency of newcomer children. The Assessment Kit has also been placed on the Department’s website. It is proposed to have an assessment kit for post-primary schools available later in the year.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has prepared guidelines for teachers in primary schools to assist them in meeting the language and learning needs of children for whom English is an additional language so that they can access all areas of the primary school curriculum.
The Inspectorate of the Department is also conducting an evaluation of the provision of English as an Additional Language (EAL) in a number of primary and post-primary schools in 2008 and 2009. A report on their evaluation will be prepared for mid 2009. The objectives of the evaluation are to examine the provision and the quality of teaching of English as an additional language in primary and post-primary schools. The evaluation will also review the quality of learning achieved by the migrant students, the effectiveness of supports and the inclusion of services for these students in whole-school planning.
At the request of the Department of Education and Science the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has undertaken a large-scale study into how an increasing diversity of students impacts upon resource requirements and day to day teaching and learning in  primary and post-primary schools. It is expected that this study will be completed in autumn 2008.
The Department is also participating in an OECD review of migrant education policy and practice. This review will be carried out by a team of OECD experts. This review is expected to be completed in autumn 2009. I will evaluate the findings of the Inspectorate’s research and, based on their findings, and those of the ESRI, OECD and others, I will consider if any further reform is necessary in relation to the provision of English as an additional language in schools.
Dáil Éireann 658 Written Answers. School Curriculum.