Quality of education at Gaelscoil na Daroige “inadequate”

The Irish News education correspondent, Simon Doyle, notes that a Northern Ireland Education and Training Inspectorate report has stated that the “quality of provision in Irish and English was inadequate” at a Londonderry Irish-medium primary school which the NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, has twice awarded funding to against the advice of her departmental officials.  From the Irish News

Ms Ruane approved the first proposal in 2007, but the school never met the necessary intake numbers and was forced to re-apply. The second proposal was approved late last year.

The second approval is being seen as more contentious than the first, as the advice the minister received from officials was largely the same as it was previously.

The Irish News report adds

Documents released under freedom of information (FOI) legislation reveal Ms Ruane was told backing Gaelscoil na Daroige would fragment provision – there are almost 80 surplus places in the city’s two established Irish primaries.

Inspectors also said they could not agree with it and reminded the minister that the school had previously failed to meet the criteria for funding.

They added that Irish-medium provision in Derry had reached “saturation point”.

Additional documents obtained under FOI reveal that since becoming minister Ms Ruane has only twice ignored advice when making decisions on school proposals.

On both occasions, the school in question was Gaelscoil na Daroige.

I can’t find the report online but the Irish News quotes from it

The quality of leadership was inadequate, it said. While the principal was “hard-working and dedicated” to the work of the school, “to date his focus has been on satisfying the DE criteria for funding”.

The school’s approach to assessment was “inconsistent and lacks rigour; the link between assessment, teachers’ planning and classroom practice is not strong enough”.

The quality of teaching in lessons observed during the inspection “ranged from good to inadequate with a majority being satisfactory or better”.

“Too often, lessons were over-directed by teachers; whole-class work predominated; and there was an over-reliance on worksheets. The school’s provision for play-based learning is inadequate and needs to be reviewed to ensure it builds effectively on the children’s pre-school experiences,” the report said.

Under the heading ‘achievements and standards’ the report said “the provision in Irish and English was inadequate” although the children’s level of spoken Irish was very good.

“In key stage 1 and year 5 the children have opportunities to use a range of writing forms and the children have planned, drafted and edited some of their own work.

“However, the standards of the children’s written work by year 5 is inadequate. Written activities in their books are incomplete, inaccurate, lacking in basic writing conventions, and presentation is poor.”

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  • It seems to me that the headline on this article is ever so slightly skewed. There are a few question marks against the school but the overall verdict seems to be close to adequate. I don’t think adequate is good enough myself but if Gaelscoil na Daróige is to be judged, it should be judged against not just other Gaelscoileanna but other schools throughout the north. I’ve come across too many people in the North whose command of English is ‘inadequate’ – and they all didn’t come through the Gaelscoileanna. On the contrary those who attend gaelscoileanna have a better chance of having better English than others who dont. Most if not all Gaelscoileannas’ quality of education is excellent and independent studies indicate that pupils who attend Gaelscoileanna and who avail of immersion education have better Irish and English than those who attend English language schools.

  • Jimmy McGurk

    Yes it would be interesting to see some comparitive data between the Irish medium schools and the other English medium schools in the area.

    I’m interested to see that the primary is struggling for numbers. I understand that there is something of a boom in Irish medium education in the South, and there seems to be an energetic Gaeltacht developing in Belfast. Is this not being replicated in Derry?

  • Fretjumper

    Just the type of headline the Alisters, Robinsons and Campbells of this place dream about. Fair enough if its ‘inadequate’ let it improve these areas and be judged in its entirity. One bad report does not make it a bad school or bilingualism between English-Irish a bad idea. As Oscar Wilde said ‘I have no desire for perfection, it leaves no room for improvement.’ He was right of course. Education through Irish is an enriching, cultural experience to the benefit of all those who attend, and I speak from the perspective of a father whose daughter attends. As to what advice the minister takes, well that’s a matter for her.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I suppose there are two ways of looking at this story.
    That several schools are inadequate including this one (an Irish medium school in Derry) and we should read the warning signs and do something to bring this and other schools up to…adequate and better levels.
    On the other hand, we could look at it and say….oh that mad woman Ruane and those Shinner fanatics in the Irish language schools have got their comeuppance. Lets laugh at them.
    Interestingly the Irish News reports that the school is in Derry but Mrs Baker reports the same school is in Londonderry.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Report by Gerard Mulhearn & Dr Judith Wylie

  • or we can conclude that the exercise in providing our schoolkids with yet another schismed avenue of upbringing is an expensive failure not supported by the community at large?

    No, let’s all hide the damage before themmun’s get a houl of it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Apologies its Gerard MULHERN. I apologise also that this is academic research and not based on lazy anti-Irish language stance of the Overclass.


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    We could indeed conclude that st etienne.
    We have the rather unfortunate fact (which the Overclass wont admit) that there is more than one Community.
    And rather inconveniently for the Overclass these two communities voted in favour of a system which guarantees the spread of Irish language education.

  • I have no doubt that this report on the school’s performance is accurate and there’s no doubt at all regarding the bona fides of the authors. I wonder aloud, however, as to the prominence being given this school in the media as opposed to the many other schools in the north whose performance is less than adequate. There’s room for improvement at Gaelscoil na Daróige, surely, and pupils have a right to expect the best. And reports like this will help if the recommendations are acted upon.

    Of course the likes of the TUV and the DUP and the UUP will no doubt use this report to their own ends in order to attempt to undermine the provision of Irish medium education. They will be unsuccessful because parents and children and educators are voting with their feet in favour of Irish medium education.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Surely this revelation has nothing to do with the quality of education in Irish Medium schools. This story is simply about the Education Minister. The Minister should not be giving this funding to schools if they are not worthy of it. The report makes the point that Irish medium education in Derry is in a position of supply over demand but also that this school did not meet the requirements for funding.

    In providing extra funding for this school, Ruane is further politicizing the Irish language – in that she is pushing ahead of the best advice for her own and her parties political agenda. Members of other Gaelscoileanna must be frustrated by this. These schools have a great case to make for providing a brilliant education, it is not a tribal issue but this Minister is making it a tribal issue.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Actually, to add to that, it is implicit in this report that funding this school could actually be to the detriment of Irish medium schools in Derry. By fragmenting provision of funding to this schools, are the other school(s) and irish-medium education as whole suffering. All to push an agenda to have more and more of these schools.

    As with academic selection, the Minister puts the cart before the horse. She removed selection before the education system was in a place to cope and she is funding schools before the demand for it has developed

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    And by the same token there are schools in the “integrated” sector which are essentially failed state schools who have declared themselves “integrated” to get some extra funding.

    And theres places like Saintfield in County Down with adequate state and Catholic schools. And the Overclass “need” an integrated school too.

  • cynic2

    Ah yes “close to adequate” – that will do them!!


    There are two factors in this – too many places and low demand. Noone should gloat – its just a sign that even the majority of Nationalist parents don’t want Irish medium foisted upon their children when they know that to thrive economically they will need English too.That implies rationality and normality rather than political dogma

  • Lionel Hutz

    I’m not sure I get your point fitzjames.

    The only two times that Ruane has ignored the inspectorate’s advice on this issue have been in relation to this one school. So are you arguing that the inspectorate’s advice is biased against Irish-medium schools?

    If not that then your comparison does not stand up and if you are, I would love to see the evidence

  • Lionel Hutz

    Exactly, this is just a simple fact. If you want Irish- Medium Schools to thrive and multiply, you have to make the desire for it thrive and multiply not the provision for it. This just politicizes the language

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im not sure how being taught thru the medium of Gaelic is being foisted on Nationalist parents. And I dont see how anyone will be economocally disadvantaged.
    Im afraid its a classic case of one Community forgetting history and the other remembering it.
    The Overclass concern about Integration is not about standards. And Catholic/Nationalist support for segregated education (Gaelic or Catholic) is not about Religion or Language.
    Its all about Politics.
    Nationalists seem to believe that the maintenace of this system adds to their Community Identity. Naturally the Overclass dont like that.

    Of course it was the same in the mid 19th century. Education and Literacy even Gaelic text books were meant to inhibit Irish Nationalism. It actually increased it.

  • stewart

    Should we stop funding to Beechfield Primary School in East Belfast, or Cliftonville integrated primary school in North Belfast or Ballee community high school in Ballymena?

    Cliftonville Integrated Primary was inspected in November 2009. The report said in almost all of the areas inspected, the quality of education provided in the school is inadequate.The other schools had similar reports from inspectors.

    At least the Derry school had the excuse of being run on a partly voluntary basis. Not sure the state schools had the same excuse.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well of course we COULD do that.
    But unfortunately it does not fit the well rehearsed narrative behind these threads.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Once again though, Ruane has only ignored the advice twice, both in relation to this school. Are you as well aerguing that the inspectorate is biased and where is your evidence?

  • It isn’t the system that guaranteed extra money (as opposed to ‘spread’ as that implies the funding isn’t being hemorrhaged, and goes against the above report) – but the last round of political brinkmanship.

    I disagree on whether or not the ‘communities’ voted for this – in the absence of any alternatives given at the time I think that is an irrelevant argument.

  • Lionel Hutz

    you still haven’t answered my question Fitzjames

  • …although Ó Liatháin, not according to the figures in said report.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No I havent even commented on the school report.
    I am as unconcerned about it as You and Mr baker despite protestations to the contrary.
    As should be pretty obvious my concerns were much broader.

  • maybe we should – is there a demand for these schools that can’t be met by any other state school?

  • Lionel Hutz

    So basically Fitzjameshorse, you have used this thread to sound of against bias against Irish-medium schools. The broader isuue here is how Caitriona Ruane invites this kind of bias by politicizing the issue. If she was not education minister, we would not be having this discussion and Irish medium schools would be the subject of whataboutery when any educational issue arises

  • Lionel Hutz

    that should say “would not be the subject”. Sorry

  • that depends – what are the demand figures for other minority language schools in NI?

  • Fretjumper

    St Etienne et al
    What is the name of this place..take your pick from ‘the North of Ireland or Northern Ireland’ but notice the common word, Ireland. Ireland did not always have English as its first language. For various reasons it was severly attacked and weakened until now when there is a revival taking place. To deny children of any persuasion a chance at learning this language is short sighted and profoundly unfair to say the least. But then you knew that.

  • I agree with you , hope that

  • Odhran Moses

    In today’s Londonderry Sentinel it’s reported hundreds of pupils at Lisenal College are being also inadequately schooled in key subjects such as Science and English.
    Lisneal is the biggest controlled – “Protestant” – secondary in the city.
    A similar inspection report apparently. But it differs from Na Daróige in that the inspection seems to have taken place in March and has only just been published by the Department.
    The Na Daróige inspection took place in November and was published months ago – February.
    On top of that Na Daróige has 39 pupils; Lisneal 892. But which is getting a hammering on here?

  • oh spare us the tribal tales of woe will you? I’m Irish too but to be honest pretty embarrassed about it at times when dinosaurs take to the soapbox.

    Awaiting the equally horrific stories from the ethnic Pict community on here about their predicament …oh that’s right the Celts wiped them all out.

    Oh well.

  • cynic2

    I am happy to hammer both.

  • cynic2


    Who is denying them the opportunity to learn Irish? This is about Irish medium education.There are too many places. Parents don’t want them!!

  • cynic2


    Try going to an interview with a multi-national and asking can it be conducted in irish.

  • JR

    This reminds me of the famous fox news coverage of the aftermath of the Iraq war. The main stories were about the freedom of Iraqis to race their dragsters by the river now they were liberated and not about the daily sectarian bloodshed.

    There is a section of people here who are anti Irish Language who will gobble up anything that is printed or reported which is anti Irish Language as that is what they want to hear.

    You would never pick up on other stories such as the uproar in crossmaglen last year when the Gaelscoil pupils achieved much higher results in the 11+ than those in the english language education stream.

    The undeniable fact is that the Gaelscoil movement has been massively successful in terms of the further education and employment prospects of those who pass through it.

    This is gutter reporting. How many other schools that have 39 pupils and receive a bad report get this kind of attention?

  • Oh for goodness sake! The Irish language should be on the curriculum of all schools and so should Ulster Scots. It makes no difference which side people are on, these languages are part of our culture, heritage and identity. We should embrace them.

    The question is: Did Ms Ruane support a school she knew to be inadequate, and since there is no shortage of Irish language schools in the area, why?

  • earth to blinkered,

    The real news here is overfunding for sectional interests. At a time when the big picture says massive and likely too livelihood-changing, cutbacks are underway why are local leaders pissing money down the drain?

    Whether it’s the gap used, the colour of the hair or whatever is being promoted as cultural this week is not really the issue – the fact is there is too much pandering here and incidents of funding gluttony such as this only serve to highlight it.

    The apparent need to classify pointing out the economic necessities here with the bigoted brush is Brownesque in it’s bluster.

  • gap? gab.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I a using this thread as I use most threads to expose the hypocrisy of the Media …old and new.

  • Róis

    All i can say is that this was a report which was created in November when the school was independent and was waiting to get funding, which didnt come until December. The school has come from strength to strength since and it is through the hard work and motivation of its dedicated staff that this will continue. It is unfair and unprofessional work written by Simon Doyle as there was no effort to contact the school and get their view on the situation. The purpose of journalism is to be objective.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Thank you pippakin. This story doesn’t even hammer the school, it criticises it in certain areas. Pete might try to pick out certain points that suit him, i’ll not deny that. The headline is symptomatic of his position.

    However, what those in favour of irish-medium schools should be doing is addressing the real concern not engaging in tittle-tattle politcal nonsense. The point is about Ruane not the school and certainly not Irish medium as a whole. Why has she taken a move that seems to do no favours for irish-medium education against the best advice?

    This is another action of political expediency that only serves to make our native language a political football. It has to stop

  • Lionel Hutz

    JR, do you not see the reason why its getting this attention. Its because Ruane gave it a funding against advice. She has put it in the spotlight. At the same time she wanted to take away funding for prep departments against sound financial vice!

    What is the connection? They were both actions of political expediency, using a school or schools as a political football.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Thats a straw man argument and you know it

  • I completely agree. No language, especially our own so already so abused, should be used to score political points. All that does is alienate people, a lot of people and not just those who might be expected to object. No one likes someone elses politics shoved down their throats.

    Irish is our native language. To be sure we are better at English than most, including the English, and it is very useful to us, but Irish should be included and inclusive. I have to say if I hear a member of S/F gargling with Irish I switch channels – and I expect a lot of other people do too.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Lol, have you seen the this clip


    haven’t figured out how to do hyperlinks on this thing yet.

    Its mildly offensive if you wanted to take offensive, but its mostly just hillarious

  • Róis
  • I know I made a mess of English! Again! What can I say I type what I think and there is no preview, not that I used it enough when it was available…

  • Just watched it, very good!

  • willis

    I have to admit that the Inspectorate website is not exactly an example of “best practice”.

    It is relatively easy to get the critical report on Crumlin Integrated, but others?

  • The Raven

    Lionel – that’s excellent – thanks for posting.

    “Irish is our native language. To be sure we are better at English than most, including the English, and it is very useful to us, but Irish should be included and inclusive.”

    You think? I have application forms being sent in for jobs from people who are 9 to 90. I would question just how good we are at English, never mind any other language.

    There’s a wider education problem on these islands which extends beyond “what language will we teach today?” That’s the real problem. Sure, it looks like Caitriona has made a bit of a political boo-boo here, but I wouldn’t mind half so much, if the rest of the schools were delivering too.

  • I know standard have dropped everywhere. Education has been ‘dumbed down’, sure we would not want anyone to think they were top or bottom of the class would we.

  • Seán

    The principal was on the radio pointing out the report was of an inspection carried out on the school last november BEFORE it had received any funding from the Department of Education and is not a reflection therefore of the school as it stands today having benefited from funding that has transformed the school since December.
    He’s complaining that inspecting a school before it has got on his feet made no sense

  • The Raven

    I was around for the first GCSEs. “Striving for mediocrity” is how it was described by a learned English teacher of mine.

  • Gupta

    Well done for getting information through FOI, sadly the people trying to get Whitehouse Primary built have been denied the same right.

  • If you think of the teachers we had when we were young (those of us who have reached a certain age that is) they would be spinning in their graves at the leniency of today and the mediocrity paraded as excellence.

  • Pete Baker


    For the record, although this will obviously not matter to those who have already stated their own assumptions, the Irish-medium aspect to this story is entirely irrelevant to me.

    What is relevant is the inspector’s report in light of the Minister’s disregard of all advice and required intake numbers for funding.

  • G O’Neill

    Don’t worry – I think when anybody here sees a post from yourelf regarding education the sole intention is to take a swipe at Ruane/Sinn Fein because they don’t hold academic selection in such a high regard as yourself.

  • Minor point for the smug, but Gaelscoil na Daróige principal Oisín MacEo doesn’t fit the usual stereotypes. He’s a socialist and formerly stood in council elections here under McCann’s Socialist Environmental Alliance banner (the pre-PB4PA incarnation). I don’t imagine he’d be any sort of fan of the boul Catriona. Her and the Shinners obviously think that slavishly following the same kind of cac employed by the Free State since its inception will somehow deliver a different outcome for Gaelic. Government legislation is and always will be the banshee of Gaelic.

  • redhugh78

    Did someone say the Irish News was the SDLP paper?

    A clear electioneering stunt designed to bolster Margaret Ritchies flailig election campaign in South Down.

  • Scamallach


    If your intention was to highlight Ruane’s inappropriate bias, then perhaps your title should have alluded to this rather than referring simply to the quality of education at the school in question. You can understand that based on the title and the quote that makes up the second half of the post, that people might get the impression you were having a go at Irish-medium education.

  • I agree with that. Apart from the smug part – it’s difficult to know whether to laugh or to cry, sure, but smug?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Enrolments at Irish primaries in Belfast is falling as well, down from 1015 in 2007/08 to 987 in 2009/10. Not as much as for Catholic schools but it doesn’t suggest an overwhelming demand for Irish education.

  • JR

    Northern Ireland is one big piece of funding gluttony and one big pander. 70p out of every pound here comes from the government. As far as I am aware it costs the same to educate a child through Irish or English.

    If as you and mr Hutz say the issue is the over funding of an intrest group may I suggest that there is more low hanging fruit than this. There are many interest groups here from farming and fishing to sports fans. There are many more incidents of far more money being thrown away to much narrower interest groups. It is you who are blinkered if you honestly accept that there would be as much fuss over this if it was not Ruanne going against advice to fund a Gaelscoil.

  • David Smith

    An interesting article. I would also draw your attention to the recent inspection of Lisneal College in Londonderry. This secondary school serves 800, mainly Protestant, pupils in the Waterside. Inspectors saw fit to grade Lisneal College as inadequate despite a prestigious new site and complete re-brand. A mere 21.7% of pupils gain 5 A-C at GCSE including English and Maths. This is a sad case of a school failing its pupils and reinforcing the disadvantage of a minority community.

  • p

    This sloppy piece of journalism by Simon Doyle was badly researched and short on the truth. If this Journalist had taken the time to discover the facts regarding Gaelscoil an Daróige, he might have discovered that the school had NOT received any funding from the D.E. before the Inspection.
    After the inspection the School finally was able to access funding in December 2009, and since then the school has received several visits from the inspectors and they are happy with the process of the school.
    The question must be asked who is directing this attack on a small Gaelscoil in Derry, and why, given this is the third time that this Journalist has written hatchet jobs on this school. Who is behind this campaign?
    It is also interesting that one of the inspectors who visited the school and written to the Minister of Education objecting to the school getting funding. Its like asking the Nazis to give Auschwitz a clean bill of health. Listen to BBC Radio Foyle One o’clock news programme on Wednesday for the school response.

  • mick

    the people of derry have more sence.sending their kids to these so called schools to be taught bigotry