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O'Dowd announces funding scheme for Irish Language in Extended Schools

A funding scheme for programmes that will encourage children, parents and the wider community to develop their Irish language skills was announced today by Education Minister, John O'Dowd.
Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Minister made the funding announcement during a joint visit to St John the Baptist’s Primary School in Portadown with the Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín. The programme, which aligns with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s Líofa initiative and the draft Irish language strategy, will offer additional resources to existing Extended School cluster groups who wish to apply for funding to run programmes that will increase access to the Irish language.

Speaking during the visit to St John’s, where he met with pupils and teachers, Minister O’Dowd said: “The Irish language is an integral part of our rich and shared heritage and my Department has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education. One of the recommendations arising from the review of Irish-medium education was that my Department should encourage and support informal opportunities for learning Irish through the Extended Schools Programme and increase access to those not currently accessing Irish-medium education.

“All existing Extended School cluster groups will be able to apply for additional funding to provide programmes that will encourage children to develop their skills in the use of Irish and to also provide support for parents who wish to develop their own key Irish literacy and numeracy skills.”

The Minister continued: “I am making £230,000 available this year, with the intention of continuing the funding for the next two years. This will depend on the interest shown and the progress that is made on the ground. The programme will support my Department’s overarching goal of raising standards for all, closing the performance gap and increasing access and equity. Funding will also be provided to support programmes aimed at communities who wish to develop Irish language skills that can be more widely used at home or in the workplace.”

This programme will link closely with the Líofa initiative launched by Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín last September to encourage people to become fluent in the Irish language. In the past year over 2,700 people have signed up to become fluent in Irish.

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “Líofa continues to capture the imagination of many people, young and old across the north. Last month we celebrated Líofa’s first birthday with a party in Custom House Square in Belfast. This was a fantastic family friendly event which brought the Irish language, culture and music to the heart of Belfast on a Saturday afternoon.

“Líofa aims to encourage every citizen – regardless of their background or level of expertise – to embrace the inclusivity and enrichment of the Irish language."

” During the visit both Ministers met pupils and teachers who were participating in after school activities funded through the Extended Schools Programme. Minister O’Dowd said: “In the Portadown Extended School cluster, St John the Baptist partners with seven other schools to offer a varied and diverse range of activities. I am particularly pleased to see that they are offering a number of programmes for parents. There is an increasing recognition of the vital role that parents play in helping and encouraging their child in his or her learning. The community at St John’s is an excellent model of how parents can get involved in their child’s education and I am delighted to see evidence of the value this community places on education.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Extended Schools programme aims to improve levels of educational achievement and the longer term life chances of disadvantaged children and young people by providing the necessary additional support which can enable those children to reach their full potential.

2. Launched in May 2006, £60 million of funding has been provided through the Extended Schools programme over the last 6 years allowing those schools serving areas of the highest social deprivation to provide for a wide range of services or activities outside of the normal school day to help meet the needs of pupils, their families and local communities.

3. Further information on the additional funding scheme, including details on how to apply, will issue to Extended Schools from the Department shortly.

4.The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Valuing Education’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’.

Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances.

Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s:YouTube channel.

5. View photos from the Department of Education in our collection at Flickr collection.

6. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.