Rising number of students exempt from studying Irish
Number of pupils not studying subject on grounds of disability grows by half in 10 years
Across the entire second-level system, the total number of students with exemptions in Irish rose significantly, up from about 20,000 in 2004 to 32,000 in 2014. File photograph: Eric Luke
The number of students granted exemptions from studying Irish at second level on the grounds of disability has climbed dramatically over the past decade, a new study shows.
An ESRI study found there is evidence to show some of those exempt from Irish are going on to study other languages, though the institute says these numbers are relatively small.
Across the entire second-level system, the total number of students with exemptions in Irish rose significantly, up from about 20,000 in 2004 to 32,000 in 2014.
While approximately 7,000 students received an exemption on the grounds of disability in 2004, this grew to just about 19,000 by 2014.
DifficultExemptions on the grounds of disability were most prevalent for those with emotional and behavioural difficulties, followed by learning difficulties.
Overall, the ESRI working paper cites research which shows Irish is among the least popular subjects at second level and is frequently cited as the most difficult.
The subject is compulsory at primary and secondary level, though the Department of Education allows students to be excused on the grounds of disability and having lived in another jurisdiction for a certain amount of time.
The research also finds boys are significantly more likely to have an exemption than girls.
The research says a number of factors may be behind the significant rise in numbers securing exemptions on the grounds of disability.
They include increased identification and assessment of students with learning difficulties, as well as policy towards more inclusive education.