Refusal for Irish language nursery

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

THE principal of Mourne's Irish-medium school has spoken of his disappointment at the rejection of their application for a nursery unit at the school.

However, Niall Loughran has said the future of the school is only continuing to improve and despite the refusal for the nursery unit, they are already looking forward to next year.

Last week Education Minister Peter Weir rejected the proposal for a statutory 26-place part-time Irish-medium nursery unit at Gaelscoil na mBeann in Kilkeel.

Gaelscoil na mBeann was established in 2010 by a group of parents who wanted an Irish-medium education for their children.

At the beginning of this year, due to the continuing growth in pupil numbers, they moved to a more suitable, larger, bespoke building, sharing a campus with St Columban's High School, Kilkeel.

Speaking to The Outlook at the time, Mr Loughran said the growth in pupil numbers at the school meant they had to move to a larger building, and last week he said they were already expecting higher numbers in next year's enrolment.

“We are naturally disappointed at the decision, but nonetheless remain encouraged by the large intake we have signed up for next year," he said.

“The news was not what we had hoped for and we still trying to digest it, but we are focusing on the future plans of the school."

DUP MLA Mr Weir turned down the proposal for the nursery unit, saying the demand for pre-school places was "being met".

“Taking all considerations into account including statutory duties in relation to Irish-medium education, I am also bound to consider carefully all the information pertinent to any proposal to establish new provision on a case-by-case basis and the potential displacement of good quality pre-existing pre-school provision within the sector," he said.

“The demand for pre-school places in the area is currently being met and there is scope to increase provision within the voluntary/private sector should demand for places increase.

“From all the information provided, it leads me to conclude that the evidence does not currently support the establishment of a statutory part-time Irish-medium nursery unit at Gaelscoil na mBeann."

Earlier this year, Mr Loughran said there is "a continued interest in the school" and the school has a "positive future" and is "growing steadily".

“Parents are realising more and more that bilingual education is a tried and tested European model that leads to children reaching their full potential socially, academically and spiritually," he said.


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