Gaelscoil na mBeann operates from Monday to Friday from 9.15am to 3pm and children are accepted from age 4. The Gaelscoil is a non-denominational primary school established in 2010. The Northern Ireland Curriculum is taught through Irish. We continue to fulfil our vision as we provide children with an excellent education and all the benefits of bilingualism.
What is Irish-medium Education?
Irish-medium education has become the preferred choice of an increasing number of parents throughout the country in recent years. Our school, like all of the other Irish-medium schools, follows the immersion method of education which allows children to acquire the language naturally through their daily experience. Irish is the primary language of instruction and communication. Biliteracy in Irish and English is encouraged and valued and therefore significant emphasis is placed on the formal teaching of English from Rang/Class 3 onwards.
A local identity as part of a global community
Naíscoil and Gaelscoil na mBeann's aims are:
- to provide a safe, happy and secure atmosphere in which learning is enjoyable and where children can grow in confidence and independence;
- to develop our children’s individual and collective potential - emotionally, morally and socially;
- to provide a high standard of education to every child and to ensure that all children can develop their intellectual, emotional, creative, spiritual and physical potential;
- to instil in pupils a respect for the dignity and rights of others regardless of race, gender or religious beliefs;
- to encourage the children to be aware of the wider community in relation to their cultural heritage;
- to create positive relationships between pupils, staff, parents and all members of the school community;
- to provide opportunities for extra-curricular activities such as sport, drama, music, competitions and trips;
Our school welcomes everyone.
It is the ethos of Naíscoil and Gaelscoil na mBeann that we welcome children and families from all backgrounds in a school in which diversity is celebrated.
Buntáistí an dátheangachais/ The benefits of bilingualism
Bilingualism develops the brain differently, stimulating more mental flexibility, creativity and originality of thought. Bilingual children will have the capacity to look at any problem, big or small, from many different perspectives. Words can have multiple meanings; problems can have multiple solutions; situations can be seen from multiple viewpoints. When children think in two languages, they can easily imagine more than one way to accomplish their objectives and more than one way to approach a complex dilemma.
Those who speak, read and write in two languages:
- Easily learn other languages;
- Achieve better academic results;
- Possess enhanced problem-solving skills, listening skills and cognitive development;
- Express greater creativity;
- Are open-minded to other cultures and embrace differences in people;
- Have access to two cultures and seek multicultural friendships;
- Enjoy access to a wider cultural experience and greater tolerance.
The purpose of our school is for your child to experience the Irish language and culture in a ‘real way' that they will become confident fluent speakers, readers and writers of both Irish and English.
Gaelic - a living link with our ancestors, a bridge to a varied world.
Gaelic is unique, it is the native tongue of only a few places; Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man. It allows us to explore a commonality that goes beyond shores and borders, a language, an associated heritage of music, legend, folklore and a common knowledge. Knowledge of our language gives us a power to build bridges, to create another space in which to meet and appreciate our fellow Gaelic nations, as well as connecting us in a wider community of global diversity.
“Being bilingual makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”
- New York Times, 18th March, 2012
The Research Evidence
While there is much anecdotal evidence to support claims of improved achievements for children from bilingual education, what are the facts about the benefits of this form of education?
The School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Judith Wylie and Dr Gerry Mulhern of The School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, have demonstrated the underlying advantages of Irish-medium education in a recent study. Their research, the first of its kind involving the Irish-medium sector, looked at short term memory and working memory performance in primary school children. “Short term memory and working memory are centrally important in all learning, indeed everyday tasks such as reading, reasoning and mental arithmetic rely heavily on these processes,” Dr Wylie said. “Using standardised tests of verbal and visual memory, our research compared groups of children from Irish medium schools with children from the more usual English-only schools in Northern Ireland. “Results indicated that children who attended Irish-medium schools significantly outperformed those from the English-medium schools. On average, 8-year-old and 10-year-old children from Irish-medium schools were found to outperform children of a similar age from English-medium schools.
Will learning everything through Irish affect my child's English language development?
Yes. It will impact positively on the quality of your child's English. Research has shown that high quality of immersion education in most cases will enhance English language development (Bournot-Trites & Tellowitz, 2002).
Can I send my child to an Irish-medium school even though I don't speak any Irish?
Yes. The majority of parents who decide to send their children to Irish-medium schools don't speak Irish but if you transfer a positive attitude towards learning to your child, it can have a positive impact.
Does this type of education occur anywhere else?
Yes. It is estimated that 60-75% of the world is bilingual and bilingual education is a common educational approach used throughout the world in countries such as Canada, USA, Australia, Finland, Hungary, New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, Scotland and in many other countries.
Will learning two languages cause speech or language problems?
No. Children all over the world learn more than one language without developing speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do.
What should I expect when my child learns more than one language?
Every bilingual child is unique. Developing skills in two languages depends on the quality and amount of experience the child has using both languages. From time to time, children naturally will mix grammar rules, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence which is a normal part of bilingual language development.
Does Gaelscoil na mBeann offer additional support for children with special educational needs?
Gaelscoil na mBeann has a very strong ethos that all children should have the best opportunities available to them. This means that, where possible, we will and do provide extra support for children. Teachers work to identify any difficulties as early as possible and offer immediate one to one work to children who require extra assistance. Further to this our Special Needs Co-ordinator works closely with the teachers to put in place programmes of help and to liaise with outside agencies (such as Educational Psychology services, Behaviour Support, Speech & Language Therapy) to ensure that all our children reach their full potential.
Does Gaelscoil na mBeann facilitate children from different religious traditions?
Our school welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds. We follow the Northern Ireland Curriculum and facilitate important religious occasions in children's lives. Catholic children are prepared for the sacraments. During the year priests and ministers from the three main churches locally are invited to facilitate an assembly. When the opportunity arises, we also welcome people from other faith and cultural backgrounds to talk with the children.
Is pastoral care catered for in Gaelscoil na mBeann?
We aim to provide a caring, supportive and safe environment for our pupils. We feel that it is very important that children are aware of their own feelings and of the feelings of others. We emphasise these issues in our teaching, through emotional literacy and citizenship, through whole school assemblies and through our school rules. We concentrate on helping pupils to become responsible for their own actions and to become more aware of the rights of others.