Kilkenny pupils with learning difficulties given exemption from studying Irish
By COLIN BARTLEY
KILKENNY students looking for an exemption from studying Irish due to learning disabilities will find it much easier to do so in the coming academic year.
Changes being rolled out by the Department of Education will mean students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, no longer needing to undergo a psychological assessment.
Up until now, this psychological assessment has been a requirement of the application and can cost upwards of €600.
For students studying in special schools, or those attending special classes in mainstream schools, the amendments mean they no longer need to apply for an exemption.
Schools will still be required to apply strict rules to each application before deciding on whether or not a student meets the criteria. The ultimate decision still lies in the hands of the school principal.
Amendments to the rules exempting kids studying Irish based on age and on students who started their education abroad will come into effect also. The age of students who received their primary education outside of Ireland is to be increased from 11-years of age to 12-years.
The changes have come about after an extensive public consultation between the public and the Department of Education, over 11,000 people took part.
Announcing the changes, Education Minister Joe McHugh said it was time to amend the rules, as the existing rules are over 25 years old.
“An overhaul of the system for granting exemptions from the study of Irish is long overdue. By making key changes the system will be fairer and more supportive of students while at the same time ensuring that all children have equal access to study the Irish language.”
“I believe the new criteria are fair and balanced and that the new system of exemptions is more up to date with teaching practices and support models and helps to remove ambiguity around exemptions.”