Scrapping the Scrúdú?

A guy who goes by the name of Scousedaddy on Education Posts has decided to start a campaign.  If you qualify as a teacher outside of Ireland, you are forced to sit the most horrendous exam known to man called the Scrúdú Chailíochta Gaeilge (or the SCG for short).  Scousedaddy found something that shows the SCG may not be the only route into teaching for all those non-Irish trained teachers.

So, now he’s on a mission to spread the word.  Have a read of the letter below and if you agree with it, get in touch with him through Education Posts Forum (click on this link) or you can comment on this post and he’ll read it here.

Dear Sir/Madam

We would like to open discussions with yourselves as to the validity of the requirement for the Irish language in respect of foreign trained teachers in Ireland, such as ourselves. We are contacting other agencies and groups as detailed above to establish a broad consensus on the validity of the Irish language requirement for primary school teachers.

There are a number of issues relating to the requirement  which we would like to discuss and I will now detail these issues below:

  1. If the Department of Education are promoting intercultural education and inclusion, then why are teachers trained outside of the Irish state ( who happen to be of another culture and nationality other than Irish)  being asked to adopt a Gaelic identity by why of a qualification in the Irish language? Surely this is placing such teachers at risk of employment disadvantage before they gain the SCG qualification or if they refuse to adopt the Gaelic identity associated with the Irish language. If these teachers fail to gain teaching employment  as a result of this then we will maintain an indigenous teaching population from the dominant indigenous culture. Is this really healthy for education? I appreciate that Irish is the first official language on the Irish constitution (1937), but surely following years of mass immigration to Ireland, now is the time to look at this issue.
  1. Although Irish is the first language in Ireland, English is the most widely spoken language and the predominant language in everyday use. The Department have identified this by acknowledging this fact in the employment of teachers of EAL for pupils who do not have English as the first language. Surely this has placed the department in a difficult place with regard to Irish, they seek to protect the language through the primary school system, yet acknowledge that English is the important language for newcomer communities to learn if they are to be integrated into the new communities in which they are to live and learn in Ireland.
  1. The government has signed up to the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement and acknowledged that there are two distinct communities on the island of Ireland, each with their own distinct languages and cultures. Why then are schools patronised by the Church of Ireland or Presbyterian churches, particularly within Ulster, expected  to learn the Irish language of a Gaelic culture to which they do not subscribe. Why are they not able to study Ulster Scots instead? Similar cases can be made fro Educate Together schools who have a wide variety of cultures, as many church patronised schools in Ireland have, but who may wish to abstain from teaching a dominant cultural language to all pupils.

I do not wish to demonise the Irish language here, I fully acknowledge the right of those who wish to learn the language, and I believe that the best way to do that is through the Gaelscoil curriculum. Perhaps the rest of the school population could study the history and geography of Ireland as a separate subject which would have more relevance to all who live on the island of Ireland, those who do not identify with Gaelic culture, and therefore the Irish language, would then have a fairer access to teaching employment and consequently our teaching workforce would be more representative of the population of Ireland as it is today and not as it was in 1937.
We would very much like to discuss these matters with you, we are a group of teachers who now wish to put these issues into the public domain for debate, but obviously we would welcome input from agencies such as yourself to find a way forward and to remove barriers to the teaching profession which is what we believe the SCG qualification to be.
Yours etc

0 thoughts on “Scrapping the Scrúdú?”

  1. There may well be valid points here, but as a parent I do not think I should have to send my child to a Gaelscoil to learn Irish. The problem here is that all your points focus on employment rights of teachers who do not have Irish, and not on the educational needs/rights of the pupils. I do not see Gaeilge as an optional extra but as part of our national identity. Those who come from other cultures should be welcomed, but if our culture/language is a problem for them, then that’s simply ‘tough’. If I went to live in France, I would expect to have to learn French (especially if I wanted to teach there). Yes, obviously the French language has a different status in real life, but I still think the point is valid.

    • How can the point be valid when we are talking about a language which identifies with one particular culture – Gaelic culture. French as a language is spoken throughout France as the first language of all cultures – it simply doesn’t hold up your argument – Irish is not the everyday language of everyone in Ireland – English is. Languages live and die – that’s a fact.

      If you go to live in Spain do you have to learn Basque to teach there? No, as it is a cultural language – belonging to a region of Spain – Basque language is taught in Basque schools only.

      I do not subscribe to Gaelic culture, I identify with the Ulster Scots culture of my ancestors, why am I denied the right to study my culture within the school curriculum which (like it or not), is identified within the Good Friday agreement as one of the two distinct cultures of Ulster.

      The education system is promoting a culture which many do not subscribe to, where are our choices to withdraw from it?

  2. I ccouldn’t agree more with the statement above. I am one of the non-Irish teachers mentioned above who despite having a BSc degree, a PGCE, an MA and being probated in England was let go from my school last year being told I was ‘unqualified’. I have no problem learning the language to the extent that I need to teach in primary schools but to study a learn from scratch, up to possibly degree level at this stage of my life is asking the impossible.

  3. Andrea you had a PGCE and were probated in England therefore you were not unqualified. This is stated in Department guidelines as to who is a qualified teacher and it clearly states a qualified teacher is a teacher holding restricted recognition. You should have held onto your post if you were not the least senior member of staff.

  4. This is a very vaild point. I also trained in the UK and haven’t studied Irish since 1998 and like the majority of school goers never liked or learned to speak it. I presently teach in a DEIS school with a large percentage of foreign nationals desperately trying to learn English, and the Irish students coming from hugely disadvantaged backgrounds are simply struggling with achieving basic literacy levels in English. To be blunt Irish is a luxury in this school. Im sure this is a common claim around the country.
    I too have now to embark on the SCG nightmare to teach Irish at such a low level that a competent Junior Cert student could manage it. Why is the SCG to degree level. I am 100% certain that teachers who qualified in Pat and Mary I do not have Maths, Science or English to degree level, because ive seen some of their awful standards in these subjects. Also many freely admit to a very poor level of Irish, even having trained in this country.
    In short it is unfair and unnecessary for foreign trained teachers to complete an SCG to such a rediculously high level. This need to be seriously reconsidered.

  5. I’m writing in support of Scousedaddy’s salient campaign. Two days into the new school year, after a hard day’s work with a new tribe of junior infants I was called into my principal’s office. I had a sneaking suspician the impromptu meeting was about the twin boys who had entered my class un-toilet trained? Or maybe it was the mother of the poor boy who had been choked in the attack by one of his fellow four year old class mates? Maybe my principal didn’t have a sub for my imminent course day? Wrong, wrong and wrong.

    The Department of Education and Science had called her up to “warn” her of the pressing issue of my provisional recognition expiring! Wow! This was news to my ears let me tell ya! I had written confirmation from the Teaching Council that I was enrolled in an ‘adaptation period’ as of summer ’08. This supposed ‘adaptation period’ has yet to be constituted. Because of my enrollment in the period (I was told a dozen times), I would hold onto my provisional status and continue to receive the same salary.

    There are many reasons why I have not accomplished the Irish requirement…First off, when I originally registered with the DES there was no syllabus or classes for me to take…I thought I was only in Ireland temporarily…(I did have a passing interest in the language taking classes at Conradgh naGaeilge as far back as 2003)I moved abroad for eighteen months and when I returned I was told I would get a two year extension. Yippee! Well, actually 24mos isn’t a long time to learn degree level Irish to pass an SCG exam. Needless to say, I struggled on…Three weeks at three Gaeltachts (exposure to all dialects you know!) Night courses every autumn and spring! I even attempted to sit the SCG exam and did the project, had the inspector…The whole nine yards…Well, I failed one paper with a 13% and I can’t even remember what I scored on the other 11%???

    Lo and behold, the wonderful Teaching Council answered all my prayers and wishes with this POLITICALLY CORRECT and modern solution. Well, it’s not a SOLUTION because they haven’t devised it yet. Thanks a lot…a year on and 180Euro paid in fees later…I am getting threats from the Council’s good friend (when it’s convenient for them) the DES.

    Hopefully something will be done soon…In the meanwhile, good work scousedaddy…Keep it up. Here’s what we are dealing with though…It ain’t gonna be easy…I called up the DES today and you know what this lady said, “I was speaking to my superviser and she was speaking to her superviser and he met with the teaching council”. NO JOKE! What an incompetent bunch of…Woah I’m getting too angry. But seriously, how can we get anything accomplished with these fools calling the shots?? AARGH!!!!!

  6. I feel that the requirements of the Irish Education system and its employees are well stated from the outset, and those considering a career within this state must take account of these requirements before applying for a position. If you do not fulfil the basic criteria, should you expect to receive a full time position? If a mechanic does not deal with gear boxes, should they be allowed to take up a full time position?
    I believe the SCG exams are accessible, and are indeed not of degree standard, but cover the necessary areas. I have undertaken them myself and respect the culture of the country within which I live an work. I feel to undermine any are of the curriculum, particularly one so central to the culture of the country, is short sighted and verging on ignorant….. in the most true sense of the word.
    As for integration and an appreciation of an intercultural mix within a school, is this not done by appreciating individual cultures, language being central to them? Respect should be demonstrated by the teacher. Should a teacher not wish to fulfil the Irish requirements, there are opportunities to deliver the full curriculum, minus the Irish language, within special school settings.

  7. Remember Aisling – if you have applied to the teaching council for the adaptation period, then you are allowed a further 3 years regardless of the provisional recognition you currently hold – the 3 years for adaptation will only begin when they roll out and begin the new course!

    I hear all about respecting the cultutre of this country all the time – I do respect the culture and the rights of those who wish to learn the cultural language of this country, what you don’t seem to acknowledge are the rights of those of us who do not subscribe to the GAelic culture – for example those of us who are – as the Good Friday Agreement puts it – belonging to the other cultural traditions of this Island. Why do I have to accept and send my kids to learn the Irish languge….we do not speak or value it in our home, it means nothing to us ( and my wife is Irish too!), English is the most widely spoken language in Ireland – the one which the Department acknowledges by its employment of EAL teachers. Schools should be able to decide based on their cultural make up of the school community if it is appropriate to teach Irish.

  8. Schools within this juristiction are at the hub of developing the whole child, that requires them to address the culture and heritage of the native land. Indeed it is imperitive to acknowledge other cultures, and I believe schools do so in line with their cultural mix, that of the host country cannot be ignored.

    Scousedaddy, what exactly would you propose? That teachers should not facilitate the official learning of the language of this country?
    Quite apart from the fact that I believe such a proposition to be inherently flawed, developmental psychology would also suggest that learning an additional language during the formative years is quite beneficial to cognitive development (although, I am sure you could counter that with opposing evidence, given a superficial skimming of relevant texts)

    Could you outline your own clear opinion on this matter?

  9. I agree, but the culture of the host country is not entirely of one distinct culture, the government has already acknowledged there are two distinctive cultures on the island of Ireland. I am not saying all schools should abandon teaching Irish, but that the cultural identitiy and wishes of the school and it’s community should be taken into account.

    How do you define the language of this country? As in the Irish Constitution of 1937? Speak to people in Ulster and ask them to define the language they speak and identify with, you will get varying answers. Ask the many migrants to Ireland and they will almost all say English.

    Learning a foreign language is developmentally advantageous, though I would personally prefer my own kids to learn one which is likely to benefit them educationally and not one which they will never use or identify with as they get older – how will Irish improve my kids education. Languages live and die, it used to be said that Latin was an important language, but thankfully we now have the choice wether to learn it or not as it means so little to many – even though many of our everyday words are rooted in Latin.(sorry to dissapoint you with a lack of superficial skimming of relevant texts here!)

  10. Scousedaddy, I remain convinced that your argument remains effectively redundant, and energies would perhaps be better invested in how teaching and learning can be enriched by the learning of the Republic of Ireland’s national language. Should you be a supporter of the sole implementation of English, Ulster Scot, Chinese, or Polish, the fact remains that although the government recognizes the importance of integration, exemptions from the teaching of the Irish language do exist, but are strictly controlled.

    Being from the province of Ulster myself, I am aware of the disparity in culture and tradition, and how this relates to the sometimes tempestuous issue of language. However I have chosen to work in the Republic of Ireland, and have therefore respected the regulations surrounding Primary School teaching, which I regard as an esteemed job. The fact is, if you want to enjoy the privilege of this job in this country you must demonstrate a willingness to assimilate to its regulations. Similarly if you choose to have your children educated in this country, you must support their progression through enthusiasm for their learning….. which will inevitably include Irish.

  11. Good luck to you if you’re happy to accept the rules and regulations.

    This discussion began with the issue being the extra qualification in Irish which foreign trained teachers MUST complete – that has led us into questioning the validity of Irish to many of the people who now make their home on this island and within the Republic of Ireland.

    Getting back to the original issue……….the SCG, from the point of view of equality and the recognition of teaching qualifications of those trained outside the state, how do you validate employing an NQT who is trained in Ireland ahead of someone who has 15 years teaching experience and a masters degree in SEN? That is what the ILR is doing – placing those teachers who are Irish ( who have learned Irish for the entirity of their academic lives)in front of well experienced and qualified people in the teaching job queue. We are supposed to be European with a common recognition of qualifications. So until we get the SCG we are always disadvantaged in the job queue – they are doing away with EAL teachers as this was a value for money exercise ( Immigration is now emigration once more!), you can no longer do learning support without Irish and they are now hitting resource jobs in the spending cuts. The issue of validity to so many is still valid especially when the language is protected anyway by the gaelscoil curriculum.

    I am currently paid as “untrained” due to having failed to fulfill the ILR of the SCG – a qualification I have sat and just failed by a meagre 3%. My colleague did the same exam, same paper and failed by 4%, he was passed on appeal and I was failed on appeal and knocked back to a fail by 4%. I am “untrained” despite the fact that I have been granted the period of adaptation by the teaching council back in April this year. I suppose I should just accept the ILR and get on with it without uttering a word about my drop in pay, despite my extensive professional development and many years of teaching in very challenging circumstances. Perhaps I should just keep quiet, not bother the Department or the INTO or the teaching council and get on with becoming Irish.

  12. I agree with the above post, it is not an EXTRA qualification, it is a basic qualification. If you were to teach in a French school, a European citizen you may be, but French you must speak. Irish is a language recognised at a European level, it is no less of a language because all inhabitants are not fluent.

    I also beg to differ on the “dying language” front, look at the Irish speaking schools being set up at primary and secondary level and the accommodation of Irish speakers at third level. It’s undergoing revival in the East of the country, perhaps even more so than in the traditional Irish speaking areas!

    If you want the job, get the qualifications, that’s life!

  13. I totally agree! I did my training in scotland and I have been teaching now for nearly 14 years yet we are made to feel we are inadequate teachers just because we don’t have Irish. At the time I cam e to Ireland to teach there were so many jobs and they were thankful that they could get someone and qualified for the post!! At that time there was little information about the SCG and having done a course a couple of years ago in prep for this stupid exam – I came away from it in disgust, shock and lost all confidence in being able to achieve it.
    Due to personal difficulties I have not bothered with the Irish for a few years now and the relief not to have this burden on me is great!! But I do feel like a failure and I feel the SCG is far too high a level to get to and not related to teaching and primary at all!
    I argued with our inspector recently about it all and she had to agree with me that it isn’t the best. I argued that people could get this exam but yet have no clue to teach the language to primary kids. None of it is related to primary level! Also i argued that if you were seen to be making an effort to studying it and say passed your leaving cert in Irish could – up to school discretion – we be placed in say Juniors up to 2nd/3rd classes to teach in mainstream??
    I am actually teaching French now and did the MLPS course back i Scotland years ago. I did french at secondary but just as an o level and I can’t even remember if I passed it or not but I am fluent enough to teach this language in primary and the kids love it. I went every friday for a year to train for this and it was all based at school level – we would make resources, shareresources and ideas, play teh games and be given the resources needed too!!
    The whole attitude and system for Irish is terrible and I’m hoping someone realises this and changes it.
    I am now in reource and missing the mainstream, but do have the worry too that my hours may be cut or if a another teacher int eh school wants to do resource then its bye bye for me!!
    As for the attitude too of some people – just get on with it and study. I’m sorry we do try and its hard when you are working and you want a life as well! I could probably pass teh exam if I gave up my life which I’m sorry at the end of the day you need get your priorities and “get a life!”

  14. You are right of course Fiona!

    the attitude of some people – “if you don’t like it go elsewhere”, “get the qualification if you want the job” – I worry that these people are teaching young children with that sort of attitude as it lacks respect for human rights and for the right to challenge the system in what is supposed to be, after all ,a free, democratic country. My argument is supposedly “flawed” simply because certain people feel that I should just get on with it and “become” Irish despite the patronage of the school I work in, its location and the historical and cultural heritage of the community which my school serves.

    I wonder if these same people think that Rosa Parks was wrong to challenge State laws which banned Blacks from sitting on bus seats? If they agree that she had a right to challenge the state laws if she felt discrimination took place then they surely should see the predicament we are in and acknowledge our right to object to the discrimination we are experiencing. Perhaps they feel we should not challenge the government cutbacks in education as what the government says seems to be Gospel!!!

  15. Well done Scousedaddy! And good luck!
    Just for the record, I have an A1 in LC hons Irish, and my father is a native speaker from the Connemara Gaeltacht. I do like the language and would not like to see it die out. However, forcing it down our throats by making it compulsory for 14 years of school might not be the way to this. And nostalgia for it won’t make you fluent in it either.

    I also think it’s bizarre that you require an hons in LC hons Irish to enter teacher training college, yet you only need to pass hons Maths and English; yet numeracy and literacy standards have been a key strategy and focus of the authorities for the last number of years. And attendance at the Gaeltacht for 3 weeks is compulsory too. Crazy!

    (Just don’t get me started on Religion and Irish Education!…)

  16. “The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children”.
    – Constitution of Ireland 1937

    Rights of the family???? – so why can I not withdraw my children from a language teaching that means nothing to us, economically or culturally.(The Irish education system that is “at the hub of educating the whole child” …..and that is why they are cutting costs and SNA support in education at present isn’t it – to educate the whole child by way of being at the hub…!!!)

    Your point Aisling regarding the language being less of a language – yes it isnt widely spoken and certainly not fluently, but I don’t want this to appear as though we don’t want the language to exist. I acknowledge and appreciate that just as I do not wish to see my children’s time wasted on learning Irish( and it is wasted, as in our family it has no relevance culturally or economically!)there are people who do speak the language fluently (and some who don’t) and who do have the right to have their children educated through irish by way of the Gaelscoil curriculum. The issues are that we have no right to withdraw from it and we are subjected as teachers to an extra qualifictaion which we are expected to attain before we can be called qualified in the irish state.This is contradictory to european employment law and the rights of workers to a common recognition of qualifictaions. If I go to France, Germany, Spain, Denmark or wherever in the EU, I don’t have to pass any aptitude test in the langauge of that country – i just have to be able to converse in the language to a level where i can teach through the medium of the language in that country. yet here in Ireland we have to complete an extra qualifictaion to teach primary school kids for a few hours a week in a language which many families do not value or identify with.

  17. Fair play Scousedaddy!

    I wouldn’t agree with all of your opinions on this subject and I wouldn’t like to see the Irish language disappear entirely from our primary schools but you are correct, I believe, in challengining the extremly onerous nature of the Irish Exam for non-Irish trained primary teachers. My sister did not get Hons Irish at L.cert level and was forced to train as a primary teacher in England. She, on her return passed the Irish exam after a number of attempts and is now teaching in ireland. I am personally qualified to postgraduate level in another field but would love to train as a teacher as it feels as though I have something of a natural skill for this type of work (I have seen this with my numerous nieces and nephews!). I have no doubt that I would be an excellent teacher and a benefit to any community in this regard. I do not however have Hons L.cert Irish and so cannot train in Ireland without re-sitting my L.cert exam which, in practice would add at least one year to my training(which i cannont now afford, financially speaking). I could train in England in a relatively short time I believe but everyone I discuss the Irish exam (for non-irish trained teachers) with says it is disproportionately difficult. This is quite the disincentive to say the least!
    Would you be able to tell me from where exactly (in terms of legislation or the constitution itself) does this requirement for primary school teachers to have competency in the Irish language stem?
    Would it not be completly reasonable for the training institutes in Ireland to incorporate the required competency in the Irish language into their individual training courses, which would then be supplemented by the 3 weeks in the Gaeltacht? Non-Irish teachers could then be trained to this standard, as opposed to the current standard.
    There is absolutely no necessity for any primary school teacher to have familiarity with the Irish language beyond that which is contained in the school curriculum. Somebody needs to remind the education council that we are almost in 2010 and that our social community extends to the 25 countries of the European Union.

    Regards.

  18. Cheers Born to Teach and good luck with your entry into the profession!

    I have stated in earlier posts that this isn’t about demonising Irish and making it disappear – that takes away the rights of people who do want to learn it and for the teachers who wish to teach it and that would be quite rightly wrong ( rightly wrong??!!!)

    The constitution places Irish so importantly that teachers need to have a greater degree of competency in it than in english and maths – that is where it stems from – however the rights of the family as the primary educator in the curriculum….. we do not have any rights regarding an opt out. Our teaching workforce is predominantly white, Irish and Catholic ( largely due to the patronage of so many schools)and the SCG is another barrier to addressing this issue. I was onto the INTO today regarding this issue and they are steadfastly of the view that any attempt to challenge the legality would be unsuccessful due to the “special” place that Irish has in the constitution. They are refferring to the Groener case as the legal case they feel upholds this stance. However, legal sources all over Europe have questioned the Groener case, as although the ruling acknowledged the protection that Irish was given, the discrimination in the case was never ruled upon and the INTO are unwilling to look at it either. The problem is this…to challenge the system, we would usually have to get the union to challenge on our behalf, but the Irish teaching union is unwilling to go to an Irish court to request that the Irish Dept Education make a ruling that would suggest that the Irish language is no longer relevant to all in modern day Ireland. This is modern day ireland, you are right – and the constitution that was put in place to remove all things British in 1937 and reclaim Ireland for the Irish is now outdated and needs to be looked at. I’ll say it again, did the South Africans not have to look at Apartheid in the 80’s, did US states not have to look at the rules about who could sit on a bus seat in the 60’s. To hide behind the 1937 constitution as an excuse to continue as we are is nothing short of xenophobic! Our best way forward on this is perhaps for parents to make a stand by asking for their rights under the constitution ” as the primary educators” to have the option to withdraw from Irish, or to send their kids to schools that do not have to teach Irish – i.e. the schools and communities that do not relate to a gaelic identity.

  19. Hi Scousedaddy,

    As a parent and as a primary teacher I feel that it is the right of every child in Ireland to learn Irish and English in primary school. It is vital, therefore, that they are taught by teachers who are qualified to give them this opportunity.

    I feel the DES is fair in its approach to teachers who qualified abroad. I acknowledge that there is work involved in learning any second language. The SCG isn’t really that difficult if one prepares well. I personally know an English person who passed and an Irish person who failed. A lot depends on attitude. As the saying goes ‘Where there is a will there is a way.’

    My advice to you is ‘Accept the challenge and get studying! If you put the same effort into it, as you put into your campaign, then you will succeed.
    Go n-éirí leat
    Hanni

  20. Do people not read the earlier threads????

    No-one is taking the right away from kids to learn Iriah or suggesting so. What we are suggesting is that those of us who do not wish to have it imposed on us should have the choice to withdraw – English is an official language of this state so why on earth do I have to have Irish too if it means nothing to me culturally, economically or to the community/school in which I work.

    I should get on with it should I???? Perhaps you think that anyone who is not Irish should just put up or shut do you?? See the earlier post on Rosa Parke for wherre my argument is going!!

    • Hi again Scousedaddy. I did read the threads, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to express my personal opinion.

      I wasn’t making a personal attack on you or on anyone else who trained abroad / is non-Irish, therefore there is no need to get so defensive and start quoting Rosa Parks. I am well aware of her role in world history and in all my daily encounters I endeavour to treat everyone with respect.

      As regards the advice I gave you it was well intended and it comes from my own experience. I have just completed a postgraduate course which took over three years. There were some modules and assignment in the course that didn’t really appeal to me in the beginning but I just got on with it. I believe that when you sign up to a scheme, after researching what is involved, then you follow the rules to achieve that goal. This is where we are different, I guess. Ironically, I got to like some of the topics, as the course progressed.

      It is obvious that we have polar views on the Irish language but I have no intention of getting involved in a tit for tat. Afterall variety is the spice of life and we are both entitled to express our opinions.

      All the best

      Hanni

      hanni

  21. As far as I am aware this is a discussion board where people are welcome to discuss and offer opinion – no one is denying you or anyone else that.

    I don’t however recall asking anyone for advice and find the notion of being offered advice on this thread as particularly patronising!

  22. Ardfhear Jimmy. Tá gach ceart ag ár gcuid leanaí an deis a bheith acu teanga náisiúnta na hÉireann a fhoghlaim ar scoil – an teanga labhartha is sine in iarthar na hEorpa (beo le 2000+ bliain). Is ar bhunchloch den tsaghas seo a bhunaítear polasaithe oideachais i dtíortha ar fud an domhain, agus ní ar mhúinteoirí nach féidir an critéir cuí a shásamh.

  23. ha ha ha, brilliant! – wondered when we would get this – good on you for posting “as gaeilge!”

    I will refer you to the earlier posts for the points that have been made – at this stage we are just getting the same arguments over and over again – though at least we now have it “as gaeilge too !”

    The right of one group automatically triggers the opposite right for another group if we are adopting a perspective of inclusivity, equality and human rights ( which the Irish education system supposedly supports – at least in it’s rhetoric!)

  24. Some very interesting thoughts here. I too would not like to see Irish removed from the curriculum, I am very much a believer in ‘When in Rome,’ however I too am UK trained and despite a great deal of experience and expertise to offer have been made to feel inadequate here.

    Fifteen years of teaching, NPQH qualification and a lot on ongoing CPD should count for something, but when the chips are down an irish trained teacher with way less experience is protected in employment and regarded as more of an asset than me just because I fail to have been born and raised in Ireland!

    I am treated differently to my fellow professional (Irish Trained Teachers) I cannot be granted full recognition, I cannot receive the same pay for the same qualifications and I don’t have the same employment rights and protection that they enjoy. I don’t do less work, less hours etc but I am treated differently by the Department. Not so the flip side in the UK, an Irish trained teacher enjoys exactly the same rights and protection that a UK trained teacher does if working in the UK, not exactly a reciprical situation. In the pay system the Irish trained teacher can claim qualifications allowance for a degree and an Hdip in addition to years of experience. My B ED BIOL(Hons) with QTS is counted as the degree bit only even though the H Dip bit is actually in the Degree and is really the Probabtionary Period we were all required to complete. I have an Advanced Diploma In Special Needs but i can’t claim any extra qualification allowance because strangely enough I did not do the course in Ireland at one of the required colleges, in fact I am also precluded from doing so because and I quote ‘this course is aimed at teachers trained in the Irish System,’ these words are to be found on an Irish website.

    I am more fortunate than some because I have managed to secure a permanent full time Resource Post, and I also have Special Education Panel Rights because I was able to prove after about five months of wrangling that I was fully probated. This is untill of course someone else from the Department tells me I need yet more paper to prove my worth. Bit like the long discussions with the Teaching Council who needed exact details about how many hours I studied core and foundation subjects on my course, I mean obviously after 15 years someone would still have that recorded somewhere!

    I have been learning Irish at great personal expense, no fees can be claimed for because I have had to secure the services of a private tutor because there were no suitable courses near me. Tá me abalta ag caint leis na muinteoriri sa scoil, taimid ag caint faoi an aimsir, an laethanta saoire agus an progress de na daltai, gach focail as Gaeilge. Bhí mé ag obair go dian gach lá, agus bhí mé ag cleachtadh mo ghaeilge i mo t-am saor ach caithfidh mé a ra go bhfuil sé an-deacair agus is doigh liom go bhfuil mé nach mbeadh fós a bheith in ann a scriobh aistí faoi dánta agus prós as an SCG. I think to expect anyone to learn degree level irish in five years is unrealistic if they are working full time and may have a family also. It is also certain that the SCG is degree level because it is based on the same requirements made for Irish trained teachers, but they have the distinct advantage that they have been taught the language from junior infants on, in my calculation that gives them at least a 14 year advantage on us UK trained teachers.

  25. I understand the frustration for people who don’t speak Irish – but how can you expect to be employed as a primary teacher if you can’t even attempt to teach one of the subjects on the curriculum?

    As far as I can see it – the scrúdú isn’t the problem. It simply doesn’t make sense to recognise as fully qualified someone who can’t teach the full syllabus.

    So… what really needs to be tackled is the syllabus. I’m sure plenty of people agree that Irish should be removed – but I’m not sure if that is an issue that can be fairly raised by someone who was educated outside of the republic. (don’t want to sound bigoted or whatever- but considering the vested interest you would have in removing it from the syllabus, i’d be a little uncomfortable with a campaign led by those who can’t teach it)

    If it’s not removed I can see 2 options
    1) judging by the level of kids’ irish after 8 yrs of primary schools – what we need is to either drop it as a subject altogether or to improve the standard of teachers’ irish (which doesn’t offer much hope to those who want to avoid the scrúdú

    2) have it taught by teachers who teach just irish – more like secondary school. Could be a big disadvantage to the kids if it meant one teacher for the whole school – could end up with the same teacher for all of primary school – which is only ok if the teacher’s good…

    So basically – while I’m sympathetic, within the current system I can’t see an alternative to the scrúdú – as long as teachers have to teach Irish they have to be qualified in it.

    To those who feel excluded by the rules – it’s a pity and it can be very frustrating, but a country has a right to decide (within reason) what gets taught in its schools. It is not realistic to expect a state to change its requirements to make things easier for you. There are planty of cases of qualifications that don’t carry over to different countries, this one at least has a reason, namely, that if you can’t speak any irish you can’t teach it. If Irish gets dropped from the syllabus it won’t be because it was unfair to foreign-trained teachers.

    • Hi Cat,

      I think the argument from the scrappers’ side is the level of Irish expected to teach in a primary school. One only needs Junior Cert level Maths and Science to teach these subjects but university levels in Irish are what is required for this subject. I think you do raise some interesting points though, especially with regards to the specialist teacher of Irish.

  26. ok – must admit i don’t know how hard the exam is – but i feel quite strongly that lowering the level required of teachers is not the way forward. I have’t studied Irish since school but I do have teaching experience in foreign languages and I feel that a high level is required of any language teacher – more so than in many other subjects where you can often get by just staying a few pages ahead in the book .
    Irish grammar is such that without understanding the more advanced intricacies even your most basic sentences will be full of mistakes with seibhus and urus, etc. If primary school kids aren’t taught the language by people with a decent understanding of it they’re not going to get very far. If Irish is to be taught to every primary school kid for a few hours of every week of their eight years there -whether you approve or not – surely it’s a greater waste for that time to be spent on teaching them badly

  27. I returned home – fed up of the discrimination in Ireland – read Janes post and you will see where I am coming from. I have a permanent job – walked into it and believe me there are not many jobs here – so I certainly have something to offer!

    My teaching experience in Ireland is tainted by the attitude of the Dept, The teaching council and the INTO towards anyone who questions the validity of the SCG – I certainly couldn’t work in a country where the INTO told me they would” only challenge percieved cases of discrimination if it was the best use of union money” So there , a union that does what exactly for its members????

    Maybe if I was Irish and Irish trained they would have done something for me.

    Would love to get a candidate for interview at our place now from Ireland, so I can ask them what they would make of a less experienced and less qualified local teacher getting the job ahead of an Irish candidate!! Would that be a case of discrimination??!!!

  28. I am sorry but you were the one enquring to work in a country different to your own, therefore you should respect that whether on not the lanagauge is popular or useful in everyday life, it is nonetheless an offical language of that country!! As a teacher I don’t undertand how that point is lost in you? You are actaully excluding those who wish to learn it and speak it! If you do not wish to teach in a country due to a lanaguage, which that country have asked and fought for the right to have it taught in thier schools…then it is you who choses so and have the choice to teach else where!! Pleae be aware that you are actually excluding the cutlure of that respective country and would be doing so in any other country in the world, who have more that one langauage as thier offical lanaguage and as an educational right to benefit from within thier culture.

  29. I agree that it is important for the Irish language to be taught in primary schools as part of the national curriculum…however I agree with Scousedaddy that the Scrudu or the adaptation period is unrealistic for teachers trained outside of Ireland. I teach in a small rural school where I swap with another teacher..she teaching my class Irish while I teach her class one of my strength subjects…this has worked so well and has made the school a richer place.
    I too am now getting letters from the DES reminding me of my 3 year time frame………..

    wondering if I will loose my job as I will then be deemed unqualified .It seems strange that I have been qualified with conditional recognition to date but in about a years time will loose this as it looks like I wont have made the scrudu level by then.
    Anyone out there who haslost their job due to this or who has managed to stay on.

    • Jane

      I think that if you have started your SCG but not completed it you should be able to appeal any loss of qualification. There is something in the literature about those people who do not achieve the standard in time.

      I am in the same position with the OCG. I have until 2012 to complete, but if I cannot get into the classroom I will not be able to fulfill all the requirements. That being said I hope that if I can demonstrate that I have taken the two exams by that time and hopefully passed them I should be able to appeal on the grounds that I was unable to secure a mainstream class position.

      Seems to me if you are still teaching in mainstream, you might apply for OCG instead and complete your school based part next year instead, at least then you would be a third of the way there. I would also say that I think the SCG is very hard. The OCG is also hard, but is more relevant to education, and therefore this helps, well has helped me as I study because I can see a point to it.

      Also if you have a permanent job you may lose your job if you are the least ‘qualified’ in the school but you should get panel rights anyway, and therefore be redeployed. You sound like you are in a similar situation to me anyway.

  30. I have read all the above posts with interest. I am in the same situation as Jane. I have 15 years UK teaching experience, 8 of those at management level, the NPQH and an Advanced Diploma in SEN also. I enrolled for the SCG when I first came to Ireland and although I read all the poems and short stories and enjoyed them I did not see the relevance of examining my knowledge of them for the SCG. For the same reason I did not take and English Literature Degree, is the same reason why I feel the poetry and prose section of the SCG is not relevant in my mind for teaching.

    I then enrolled on the OCG once it was developed, and I must say although the level required is very high I do feel it is more relevant to teaching primary children. The grammar is solid and detailed, the translation section is based wholy on language you may use in school, and although the letter aspect really requires a high level of language at least it is based in the education sphere.

    I have been learning Irish for three years, and I must say I have had to work extremely hard, all my spare time, holidays, weekends etc have been spent in study. The interesting thing is when I have shown my colleagues what I have to do they cannot believe the level required, and all admit that they would also find the exam a challenge.

    I agree with a number of posts about the discrimination against foreign trained teachers, I too despite my experience and level of qualifications have be made to feel inadequate due to my lack of Irish. This really is wrong. I do not dispute the validity of teaching Irish in schools, I happen to think that any exposure to other languages from a young age is good for whole brain development, and here in Ireland, Irish is obviously the first extra language that should be taught. However I do think that more should be done to support foreign trained teachers. In the UK where foreign trained teachers are not deemed to be qualified the school is the place where the extra learning is facillitated. It seems to me that given the fact that all Irish trained teachers have a suitably high standard of Irish, it would not be beyond reason to appoint a mentor for each foreign trained teacher in a school. i am not suggesting that the burden of teaching should fall on the ‘mentor’ but to have someone informed of the levels required, and able to help the stuudent with any difficulties would be helpful.

    There is also a lot of ignorance around with regard to foreign trained teachers. As a UK trained teacher I am entitled to teach mainstream, but it is up to the Principal to ensure that Irish is taught to the required standard, this could be done by me or another staff member. What is really annoying is that I have been sidelined to Resource/Learning Support and that as part of the OCG I have to teach mainstream.

    According to the DES it is the responsibility of the school to facillitate this, and I was hoping to be put into a mainstream class next year in order to do my class based section, but thanks to the wisdom of the DES I have lost my post and will be on the panel instead (for which I am very thankful). My problem now is that I want to go on the main panel, and under regulation 2 I am entitled to, for those who don’t know, the panel form has a section which says ‘are you qualified or entitled to be qualified under reg 2’ this means that if you have a BEd Hons as recognised by the DES you are regulation 2 except you don’t have the Irish. But now my paperwork has been sent on again and I will probably end up on the SEN panel instead. Well at least I have a job, but I need to get into the classroom within the next two years to complete my OCG course. So what do I do now?

    In addition to this, it seems ridiculous to me that I have to stay in my current school, paid a salary and not allowed to teach mainstream, and await redeployment. What i am wondering is what are the chances of redeploying me into a Resource Post or Special School with the cuts going on? I have raised these points with the panel and hope that they may be able to put me into mainstream, thus enabling me to complete my OCG, and not waste as much money as I will be paid my salary and be able to fill an existing post as well.

    Anyway as I write I am taking me first part of the OCG next week and hope to pass!!!! At least then I will be on my way.

  31. The S.C.G will always be mandatory. The Irish language is at the core of Irish Culture and Irish children will always have the opportunity. there are other schools in Ireland Catering for children who do not wish to take Irish Language. Its a safe bet that the S.C.G will Never be scrapped, why would it, it keeps standards within the Teaching profession high, there are more than enough Irish trained graduates, and Ireland will never give up something as important as the Irish Language in Primary Schools anyway.

    • Thanks for the comments. Just as a point of interest, which primary schools in Ireland cater for children who do not wish to take Irish language? I am unaware of any.

  32. The S.C.G will always be mandatory. The Irish language is at the core of Irish Culture and Irish children will always have the opportunity. there are other schools in Ireland Catering for children who do not wish to take Irish Language. Its a safe bet that the S.C.G will Never be scrapped, why would it, it keeps standards within the Teaching profession high, there are more than enough Irish trained graduates, and Ireland will never give up something as important as the Irish Language in Primary Schools anyway.

    • Thanks for the comments. Just as a point of interest, which primary schools in Ireland cater for children who do not wish to take Irish language? I am unaware of any.

    • So even though I got 520 points in my Leaving Certificate with As in subjects such as English and history, the simple fact that I got a B in ordinary level Irish debars me from qualifying within your “high standards”?? The Irish language requirement is ridiculous and forcing it on students only isolates them from the language. To become eligible for primary teaching in Ireland, only ordinary level grades in Maths and English are required – this simply baffles me. I think your endeavours to preach about the “high standards” which the Irish language requirement promotes is laughable.

  33. I suggest Scousedaddy masters his native language before seeking to be excused from learning gaeilge. “Department of Education” takes the third person singular form of the verb “to be” in line 1 of paragraph A.
    Just sayin’…

  34. this is a bigger issue than just you! This is a langauge that we are talking about. You are part of the pressure, don’t you see that! What about the education, have you thought about that as a teacher? What is it that you want to TEACH?

  35. Hi all
    I have just been denied an extension ot my Irish Shortfall.I was given three years adaptation period. I have seven years experience in mainstream U.K. I have no desire to teach in a mainstream class here (and teach irish) . All I want to do is have the opportunity to pursue a career in special edcucaion which I have been doing the last few years in Ireland.
    Has anybody taken their case to the High Court ? My case has been reviewed by the Teaching Council and this is now the next course of action. Do you think I could take my case to the High Court on grounds of discrmination ? I have been told to go away and complete the SCG/OCG and then re-register. However, in order to complete the SCG?OCG application I need to be registered with the Teaching Council ? On the other side of the coin I cannot complete the Special Needs Diiploma (which I have secured a place on) unless I am registered with the Teaching Council. Any advice appreciated .

    • Thanks for the comment, cecy1. I don’t think anyone has taken a case to any court about the SCG/OCG but I’m sure it would have interesting consequences. When I was doing the SCG, similar conversations were happening. In your case (where you have no desire to teach in mainstream) you may have more luck than someone who does wish to teach the full primary curriculum.

      • For me the issue is not whether Irish should or should not be taught in Primary schools. It’s one of the National languages, so there should be no question about it.
        My issue is the need for Special Needs teachers to take the SCG when the children they teach are exempt from Irish and are being taught a different curriculum altogether which means those teachers actually have no need for the language. We do however have and need a whole different set of skills, none of which are recognised. A downgrade of an honours degree to Montessouri along with a pay cut is the thanks we get for such a challenging job.
        I am about to be in the same position as Cecy1. I have been learning Irish for the last 3 years and am signing up for the SCG this year. For me the cost of the course is the biggest hurdle. €1400 to sign up and then €400pw for the 3 weeks in the Gaelteacht. That’s without the cost of a babysitter so I can attend the classes. All the while there are no jobs, so no income to pay for all this.

        • It’s a tough one, fred. I don’t think there enough appetite to change this as it’s so emotive (as you can see from some of the other comments)

  36. I’m delighted to find someone who has the courage to speak out so openly about this issue. I have nothing against Irish – love it in fact – and attempted to learn it as part of my route into teaching in Ireland. I am a specialist music primary teacher in a special school. I have successfully worked for 5 years with non-verbal students who all have GLD and are mainly diagnosed on the autism spectrum. And yet I am being shown the red card by the Teaching Council because I am unable to fulfil the ILR. Their decision to oust a specialist teacher/therapist trained to Masters Level in favour of a NQT on the basis that they speak Irish and I don’t is misguided and short-sighted. Remarkably a teacher who trains in Ireland would be granted an exemption from Irish in the school where I work. I have taught in Germany with a working knowledge of German. As a teacher who trained outside of Ireland I am expected to undertake the SCG exam which a lot of native speakers find very hard. When I am only expected to teach Irish to primary level! I am given the option to self-fund training in a specialist special needs qualification which I am told by the colleges that I am unable to enrol in because they only cater for full time teachers who work with literacy and numeracy. The post I work in is a sanctioned part-time post to fulfil the need for music education as a therapeutic and sensory requirement for special needs students. The ruling is nonsense. The principal agrees and has unsuccessfully petitioned the Teaching Council. The board of management agrees. The Parents’ Association agrees and has unsuccessfully petitioned the Teaching Council. I trained at the Royal College of music in London, I hold a PGCE specialist primary qualification and am a fully qualified primary teacher in any other European country. I also hold specialist music teaching qualifications and am educated to Masters Level in a musical capacity. And yet, apparently, I’m unfit to teach in an Irish school! As of April 30th 2015 I could very well be out of teaching!

    • Lots of valid points in the above statement and I admire ‘scousedaddy’ for having the courage to bring these points up – I personally wouldn’t have a problem with learning Irish for classroom use but I feel the level of the SCG- is ridiculous considering the the level the teachers who undertake the exam will be teaching at. To give my comments context – I am an English woman who moved to Donegal with my partner who is a native Irish Speaker (but says he probably couldn’t pass the written test either!) Both myself and my partner have degrees and I have a pgce. My pgce and degree took me 4 years. Although it was tough I never had any major problems as a reasonably intelligent individual. I started working on the SCG in 2009/2010 and now in 2015 – I still havnt managed to pass despite a lot of money, time and effort. When I started out the OCG was in the pipeline but hadn’t been rolled out. By the time it was available I had already passed paper 2 of the SCG so decided to keep going as the price per module was increasing (to start from scratch now costs over €1000). Also as I wasn’t in a teaching job I was informed by a school principal and Marino that I needed to be in a post to complete the OCG (catch 22). So the first year while pregnant with my first born I sat paper 2, the speaking and the listening – I then had a year off with my baby- then I put in for the speaking and listening and passed both within the year, then whilst pregnant with my second child I sat paper one and had the classroom visit. I passed the classroom visit with flying colours but failed paper one – twice! I gave it a break for another year while on maternity with my second child – then this year I failed it again twice – despite putting my kids in creche most of the summer holiday while I slogged my guts out over the textbooks. In 2013 when i first took paper 1 – I scored 37% (pass is 40) – I didn’t expect to pass and left out all of section 5 and my essay didn’t come up. This year I was lots more confident with grammar – I was able to understand the essay question and had points rehearsed and I completed section 5 -and was confident I got most of it right (as again it was an area I had rehearsed and knew the answer by heart). Surely I had passed this time? No – 37%. Can I have feedback as to where I went wrong? No – if you want to view the script you have to travel from donegal to Dublin on a Friday afternoon to look at where you went wrong – but don’t worry you can still pay 40 Euro to have a re-check – you still won’t see your paper but you may or may not pick up an extra mark. My choices are now – take the SCG again and risk still not passing as the subject area so broad or else starting from scratch and paying a 1000 to do the slightly easier but far more relevant OCG and gain the classroom experience through voluntary work teaching Irish in schools (which I know has been done). But at least I’m not the only one. 59% of the candidates who sat the exam with me failed according to the information that came from Marino along with my result- and I bet most of them did Irish at school!

  37. I agree that the SCG is a tool to prohibit non Irish born teachers from holding permanent posts. If I moved to France to teach, I could attain a degree level fluency in a short period of time due to language immersion (because it is the language spoken daily by the majority of the population) and also because there are a wide variety of full and part time language courses. However in Ireland, I have to spend weeks in a remote area to experience any sort of immersion (difficult to do when you have a child) and there are very few courses available. Also, note the lack of readily available preparation materials. Marino is a nightmare to deal with. I have worked in Primary Schools in Ireland in a temporary capacity. I have seen a lot of teachers just going through the motions and following a tired old Irish curriculum. If we could have Irish speakers, who actually possess a deep passion for and understanding of the language, teach Irish to these children perhaps the language will live on. I also hold a Bachelors and Masters of Education and have 15 years teaching experience.

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The Anseo.net Newsletter features my thoughts on the Irish Primary Education System.Read the full newsletter here It’s been a reasonably quiet fortnight in the world

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The Anseo.net Newsletter features my thoughts on the Irish Primary Education System. Read the full newsletter here With a lot of fearmongering in Ireland around

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