Down Syndrome Ireland welcomes the new criteria for the exemption from studying Irish, announced recently by the Department of Education & Skills. Under the new criteria, students who apply for an exemption from Irish on the grounds of disability will no longer have to provide evidence from a psychologist and a psychological assessment will no longer be necessary to process an application.
Students in special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools will no longer have to apply for an exemption. The decision to grant an exemption will continue to be made by the school principal and the department says exemptions will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. The changes will apply to English-language schools only as students in gaelscoileanna are required to study Irish. Minister for Education, Mr. McHugh, acknowledges that an overhaul of the system for granting exemptions from the study of Irish is long overdue, advocating that, by making key changes such as these, the system will be fairer and more supportive of all students.
The changes will be laid out in official circulars due to be issued to all schools in September 2019 for the upcoming school year 2019-2020, and will replace the existing system that has been in place for over 25 years.
We will update you following the publication of the circulars.