Department of Education inspectors have expressed concern over poor standards of Irish teaching at both primary and secondary level.
The findings are contained in the department’s chief inspector’s report, which summarises findings from nearly 5,000 school inspection between 2013 and 2016.
At primary level, it found the quality of learning in Irish was “unsatisfactory” in just over one-in-four (26 per cent) of lessons.
“A significant cohort of children are not making appropriate progress in Irish,” the report states.
“Significant change is required in terms of the learning experiences provided to pupils if improvement in outcomes in Irish is to be achieved.”
At second level, it found challenges persisted although the quality of students’ learning in Irish showed some improvement since the last inspectors report in 2013.
The proportion of lessons in subject inspections where learning was judged to be very good in Irish was 28 per cent, significantly lower than for English (34 per cent) or maths (41 per cent).
In just over one-in-five lessons (21 per cent) subject inspections of Irish, learning was less than satisfactory.
The proportion of lessons where learning was judged to be “very good” in Irish was 28 per cent, significantly lower than for English (34 per cent) in English and maths (41 per cent).
“The quality of students’ learning in Irish remains an area of concern. Many challenges to effective teaching in Irish persist,” the report found.
“More communication opportunities in the target language are needed in all lessons so that students have experience of speaking Irish. Teachers should plan for the variety of language skills represented in the classroom.”
At primary level, it said significant change was required in terms of the learning experiences provided to pupils if improvement in outcomes in Irish is to be achieved.
It said a stronger focus on planning for meaningful and active participation of pupils in the learning process is needed. In particular, along with increased opportunities to work collaboratively.
It also found the potential of technology, or ICT, to enable “enriched learning experiences” should be better exploited in primary schools.
Overall, however, it found the quality of teaching in primary schools was generally of a high standard.
It was judged as “good or better” in between 88 per cent and 94 per cent of schools inspected during whole-school inspections. This was an improvement on the previous report, where the quality of teaching was good or better in over 86 per cent of all inspections.
At second level. the overall quality of teaching was evaluated as “good or better” in between 88 per cent and 94 per cent of lessons.
The quality of learning was good or better in 85 per cent to 91 per cent of lessons visited, depending on the model of inspection used.
This was better than in the 2013 report in which the quality of learning was satisfactory or better in between 82 per cent and 84 per cent of lessons.
Launching the report, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the report acknowledged all the good practice that takes place on a daily basis in our schools and other settings in terms of quality leadership, management, teaching and learning.
He said the findings affirmed his department's aim that the Irish education and training system should become the best in Europe over the next decade, was achievable.
Chief Inspector Dr Harold Hislop said the inspections showed that there are many strengths in the Irish education system at early years, primary and post-primary levels.
“It is heartening to be able to report positively of effective leadership, good teaching and high quality learning for young people. This provides a solid basis on which to build even better pre-schools and schools for our young people,” he said.