Could You be Exempt From Studying Irish in the LC?

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Do you despise Peig Sayers? Do you find yourself struggling with the Modh Coinníollach? Then you might just be in luck when it comes to next year’s Leaving Cert. As a subject, Irish has been mandatory for most students for the past few decades. While this is great if you’re a dab hand at your native tongue, it’s not so fantastic if you’re barely able to string a sentence together. A low mark in Irish can ultimately hinder a student’s ability to get the their chosen course on the CAO, which is why many welcome the changes brought in this month.

More Students Exempt From Studying Irish

The government has announced a brand new criteria for schools which can grant students an exemption from studying Irish. After undergoing a public consultation earlier this year on draft revisions to the system, revised circulars for primary and post-primary schools will take effect for the 2019/2020 school year.

The revised circulars will be issued in September and will replace existing rules on exemptions which date back more than 25 years. The public consultation on the issue of exemptions, which ran from December 2018 until January 2019, saw an huge response with 11,109 individuals sharing their views.


The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D said: “An overhaul of the system for granting exemptions from the study of Irish is long overdue. By making key changes the system will be fairer and more supportive of students while at the same time ensuring that all children have equal access to study the Irish language.”

“There was a phenomenal level of interest in the public consultation. That is why I took the decision to extend it further into the New Year. The majority of people who engaged with it supported the changes being proposed. I believe the new criteria are fair and balanced and that the new system of exemptions is more up to date with teaching practices and support models and helps to remove ambiguity around exemptions.”

Key changes in the revised circulars include:

  • The new criteria will only apply in English-medium schools.
  • Students in special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools will not be required to apply for an exemption.
  • Psychological assessments will no longer be necessary to process an application for an exemption.
  • Students will be granted an exemption from the study of Irish only in rare and exceptional circumstances.
  • Age-related criteria for decisions on exemptions are being changed from 11 years of age to 12, which brings the circular into line with the final year of primary education.
  • The decision to grant an exemption will continue to be made by the school principal.
  • The decision should only be taken following detailed discussion with the student’s parent or guardian, teacher, special education teachers and the student.

The new circulars together with detailed guidelines will be issued to schools in the coming weeks and will be available on the Department’s website at the start of the new school year.

Read more online here.



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