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Written Answers - Languages Initiative

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 20.  Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he is examining any options, such as sourcing funding from the European Union, to restore the modern languages initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2931/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My consideration of the modern language initiative is wider than one of funding alone.

The Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative has been a pilot scheme involving approximately 550 schools that has operated since 1998.

The decision to end the scheme took account of a 2008 Report by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). The report identified serious issues with curricular overload at primary level.

The NCCA’s advice recommended for the present modern languages should not be part of the Primary School Curriculum as an additional and separate subject. The advice in relation to curriculum overload predated the wake up call on literacy and numeracy triggered by the PISA [297]results. I am taking that advice on board and with particular regard to the demands on time in school that will result from a heightened focus on literacy and numeracy.

The primary curriculum is currently being reviewed by the NCCA in the context of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The €2.5million in savings from this measure will go towards the cost of implementing the new National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The 17% of primary schools at present in the Initiative, who have had even more time demands than others in a crowded curricular space, should as a result be better placed to deliver under the strategy.

Given the priority of literacy and numeracy I have acted on the 2008 advice about overload and could not justify either the continuation of the initiative in the existing schools or its expansion to all schools even if funding was not an issue. The issue of seeking alternative resources from the EU does not arise.


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