At its meeting on 28 May 2012, the Council approved a report which sets out a series of changes in relation to the Gaeltacht placement, as undertaken by student teachers (primary).
The report arose from the Council’s new accreditation criteria, published in June 2011, which provide, inter alia, for “an extended and reconceptualised Gaeltacht residency which will now form part of the overall programme and be under the direct jurisdiction of the teacher education providers”. It has been developed having regard to the Council’s “three Is” of innovation, integration and improvement, and will be a reference point for the Council when reviewing programmes of initial teacher education for professional accreditation purposes.
Among other things, the report provides for:
a new name for the Gaeltacht Placement – the “Tréimhse Foghlama sa Ghaeltacht”
the placement duration to be extended to four weeks, to take place in two blocks of two weeks
greater collaboration between HEIs and Gaeltacht colleges in designing courses and in monitoring student teachers’ attendance
a common course content across all HEIs, to be adapted to cater for students of different levels of linguistic competency, with specific provision made for the needs of native and of other highly competent speakers
assessment of student teachers’ learning during the Tréimhse based on agreed learning outcomes
courses being delivered by primary school teachers, insofar as possible
quality assurance of the Gaeltacht courses.
The report also makes a number of other recommendations in relation to teachers’ competence in Irish throughout their career.
In adopting the report, the Council also adopted the following motion:
"The Council calls on the Department of Education and Skills to set up a programme of financial support for student teachers, targeted at those in most need, to facilitate their participation in the Gaeltacht Placement programme. This is a required element of programmes of initial teacher education (primary) and, as such, is a necessary condition for registration. Irish is our first national language, and is a core subject in the Primary School Curriculum. In these contexts, and in light of the emphasis on widening access to third level, we feel that such a programme of financial support would be both innovative and socially progressive".
The views of Council, as expressed in the above motion, have since been formally conveyed to the Minister for Education and Skills.
(Please note that Appendix 2 of the report contains tracking in order to highlight the recommended changes to the Rialacháin).