Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has begun consultation on a review of Irish-medium education.
The review was carried out by an independent project board and aims to set out a strategic direction to build a strong basis for future provision of education through the Irish language.
The Minister said on Saturday: “Today I am publishing the review for consultation, which will influence the process of developing policies to encourage and facilitate this growing sector.
“The review has highlighted the great successes in the Irish-medium sector, but rightly also highlighted that much still needs to be done.
“There is a legacy of sub-standard accommodation that needs to be addressed along with the important issues of support for educators and availability of resources. Above all we need to put the interests of the children and young people first.
“The Irish-medium sector has grown from a class of nine children in Belfast over 30 years ago, to more than 3,000 children right across the North today. That growth has been helped and supported by parents working with Irish language activists and educators who recognise the benefits that bi-lingual education brings to our children.
“I recognise that there are particular issues to be addressed in the post-primary sector where I need to be sure that solutions offered are the right ones. This Review will help the development of a strategic approach which should in turn support educational solutions that work for everyone.
“Our goal is to ensure the highest standard of education for our children at each stage of their development.”
The recommendations include:
l Irish-medium pre-school experience should not be a compulsory requirement for entry into an Irish-medium primary school.
l A new setting providing Irish-medium primary education should be developed as part of a federation with another school, with a single board of governors and principal; the process will require a development proposal and an economic appraisal.
l The project board recommends that, in establishing new Irish-medium primary provision, the federated model should not be set aside other than in the most exceptional circumstances.