Ireland: Minister O’Sullivan launches consultation on “Foreign Languages in Irish Education”

The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD launched a consultation on foreign languages in Irish education at the end of August 2014. As part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2014, the Department of Education and Skills has committed to developing and publishing a languages strategy. This will consider the role of foreign languages in the post-primary, further and higher education sectors.

The consultations will allow key stakeholders to have an input into the strategy’s development. They are being invited to comment on a two-part consultation document, which is available on the Department’s website (please see links below). The first part sets out the overall context, whilst the second part provides a series of questions for consideration.

The consultation document recognises the importance of immigrant languages in Ireland, due to the fact that over 10% of the population are immigrants. The 2011 census found that over half a million people spoke a language other than Irish or English at home. Polish, followed by Lithuanian were the most common European languages, with Filipino and Mandarin Chinese the most common languages spoken by Asians now living in Ireland.  Other data show that, for example, in our post-primary schools approximately 12% of students were born outside of Ireland.  Our immigrants are providing us with a rich and diverse source of languages. These communities need to be supported in maintaining their own languages, which constitute a new national resource, as yet largely untapped, for Ireland.

The consultation therefore requests input from key stakeholders to answer questions regarding, amongst others, how to support migrant languages in educational settings. More particularly, how can we encourage our migrant children to become proficient in the language of their adopted community, while at the same time maintaining oral, written and cognitive academic language proficiency in their own mother tongue?

Feedback can be submitted until the end of October, via email or post. A forum will be organised to discuss the main points arising from the process. It is expected that the strategy will be finalised by summer 2015.

Consultation document: Framework For Consultation On A Foreign Languages In Education Strategy For Ireland

Submissions can be made via email:

or post to: Tim O’Keeffe, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.

Via Department of Education and Skills

See the SIRIUS Stakeholder report on the promotion of multilingualism among immigrants for the SIRIUS take on this.

Ireland: Annual Monitoring Report on Integration 2013

The Annual Monitoring Report on Integration 2013 was launched on 30 June 2014 by Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Minister for Justice and Equality. The Monitor presents a range of indicators to measure different aspects of immigrant inclusion in Irish society, using the most recently available data.

This report, jointly published by The Integration Centre and The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), is the last in a series of four monitoring reports. It examines migrant integration in employment, education, social inclusion and citizenship, with a special theme this year on migrant children.


Education Indicators

Irish Education 2013

The chapter on education considers educational qualifications among adults; and presents academic achievement scores of 15 year olds, based on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from 2012.

In early 2013 a very similar proportion (around 50%) of Irish and non-Irish nationals aged 25 to 34 had third-level education. A slightly higher proportion of young non-Irish adults (20-24 age group) than of Irish adults had left school before finishing second-level education.

In English reading, immigrant students from non-English speaking backgrounds had lower achievement scores, on average, than their Irish peers in 2012 – although the gap between the groups has narrowed since 2009. There was no significant difference between immigrants from an English-speaking background and Irish students in mean achievement scores on English reading. In 2012, in contrast to 2009, there was also no significant difference between immigrant students and Irish students in achievements in mathematics.

Special Theme in the 2013 Monitor: Migrant Children at Age 3

This special theme was based on original analysis of data from Wave 2 of the Growing Up in Ireland infant cohort.

  • In spite of their generally higher level of education, immigrant mothers of 3 year olds are, on average, less likely to be employed than Irish mothers. Related to this, immigrant children are less likely to be in non-parental childcare for eight hours or more per week.
  • The exception to this pattern is mothers from Western Europe. Their employment rates are the same as those of Irish mothers (55%), the proportion of their children in non-parental childcare is very similar.
  • Where immigrant children are in non-parental childcare, they are much more likely to be in crèche-based care than in the care of a relative. The lack of an extended family living in Ireland may make it more difficult for immigrant mothers to combine work and caring.
  • Experience of financial strain, which increased with the economic crisis, tends to be higher among immigrant families, particularly those of African origin, but also those of EU Eastern European and Asian origin.
  • There are small differences in terms of overall health and diet between Irish and immigrant children. In fact, immigrant 3 year olds, whose mothers are from Western Europe or EU Eastern Europe, have somewhat healthier diets than Irish 3 year olds.

Read Press Release

Download Report

Download ESRI Presentation on Report

Via The Economic and Social Research Institute 

Irish Government launches ‘Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020’


Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has today been joined by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and An Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD to launch ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 -2020’. The launch event took place in Dublin Castle.

‘Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures’ is the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people aged from birth to 24 years and will be implemented by the Department of Children and Young Affairs in collaboration with all Government departments and key State agencies.

The Minister said that “our children are our present joy and future wealth” and added that she saw this Framework as representing this Government’s ‘Action Plan for Children’.

The Minister added that ‘Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures’ is built on the Government’s Medium-Term ‘Strategy for Growth’ which recognised that our increasing child and youth population is a significant resource for our country; and further recognised that ensuring the best possible outcomes for this group is therefore an important element in our future economic planning.

The vision of the Framework is to work towards achieving five Outcomes identified as most important for children and young people in Ireland. The Government has committed to working towards these through a series of actions, described as key transformational goals.  These goals will underpin the implementation of the Framework and will be a key element of its success.

Addressing the launch Minister Fitzgerald stated that the challenge now for Government and society was one of “changing our viewpoint, from looking back and responding – to looking forward and planning. It’s the challenge of moving on from addressing the legacy of failings to promoting a culture and cross-government approach to improving outcomes for all children.”

“This Framework outlines what we, across Government, aspire to; and what we demand, as the best outcomes for children and young people.  It sets-out the six big transformational goals and the new implementation structures through which Government departments can work together to achieve these outcomes and be accountable for progress.  This Framework represents a comprehensive outline of every one of every Government Department’s goals, commitments and responsibilities to children and young people.”

The Minister noted that the Framework included over 160 commitments in total:

•    From focusing on early interventions and quality services to promote best outcomes for children, particularly in the vitally-important early years;

•    To working better together to protect young people who are marginalised, at-risk or who demonstrate challenging or high-risk behaviour;

•    To setting a target of lifting 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020;

•    To improving childhood health & wellbeing in line with goals of ‘Healthy Ireland’;

•    To enhancing job opportunities for young people – building on the ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ and Youth Guarantee ;

•    To delivering better supports for families and parenting.

The Minister acknowledged the real and express commitment of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste; and indeed all government Ministers to work together across the whole-of-Government to improve outcomes for all children.

Minister Fitzgerald explained that the Framework incorporated a dynamic new whole-of-government implementation structure headed by her own Department of Children & Youth Affairs.  This new implementation structure tasked with ensuring there is ‘joined-up-thinking’ on children and young people will report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy, which is chaired by an Taoiseach.

A copy of the policy is available at

‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ establishes a shared set of outcomes for children and young people to which all government departments, agencies, statutory services and the voluntary and community sectors work, to ensure a coherent response for children and young people.

These outcomes are:

•    Active and healthy, with positive physical and mental wellbeing.

•    Achieving their full potential in all areas of learning and development.

•    Safe and protected from harm.

•    Economic security and opportunity.

•    Connected, respected and contributing to their world.

‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ prioritizes the key cross-cutting transformational goals which require concerted and coordinated action to ensure the realization of the respective outcomes:

•    Supporting parents,

•    Earlier intervention and prevention,

•    Listening to and involving children and young people,

•    Ensuring quality services,

•    Strengthening transitions,

•    Collaboration and coordination across government.

In line with both the outcomes and transformational goals, ‘Brighter Futures, Better Outcomes’ identifies a range of 166 commitments.

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Study shows how enrolment policies increase educational inequalities in Ireland

logo gqlzqyA recent study by the NUI Galway sheds new light on the situation of the so-called “New Irish” pupils and establishes a link between enrolment practices at Irish schools and the growing achievement gap between native and migrant students.

Aim of the study was to assess how factors such as neighbourhood, school and home environment affect educational outcomes of student from immigrant descent in secondary education. Furthermore, the study found that native students are twice as likely to sit higher level in maths and science. As access to Irish universities depends on a point system, which rewards higher levels in these subjects, migrant students will also be underrepresented in university education. In addition, the study highlights that current policies on school choice discriminate against migrant students since schools are allowed to give preferential treatment to candidates with family members who previously attended the school. The study remarks that there is a link between the growing achievement gap and those enrolment practices which further educational segregation.

Via The Galway Advertiser

Abstract of the article published in the journal Population, Space and Place