In Derry and the North West, there is a growing demand for Irish medium education across all age groups – from pre-school and nursery units, to primary school and post-primary school provision.
What makes Irish medium education unique is that it is fully immersive – Irish is the language of instruction and communication, and children's language skills develop very quickly through fun filled sessions focused entirely on play, songs and stories.
As children progress through the system, they develop sophisticated language skills in both Irish and English, and numerous studies confirm what every Irish medium setting sees at first hand – that choosing a bi-lingual education provides your child with a head start in life.
These studies show that bi-lingual children achieve higher levels in literacy and numeracy than their mono-lingual peers - including in English. They are better able to learn additional languages, and are more open to other cultures as a result.
Bilingual children demon- strate additional creativity, as their brain develops in a way that encourages lateral thinking, and finally, they are also more adept in social situations, as they are used to switching codes in different settings, and are more socially confident as a result.
There is the added advantage of developing fluency in an indigenous language unique to Ireland, and there are additional cultural advantages to attending Irish medium education, in terms of access to traditional music, sport, heritage and culture, as well as additional employment opportunities in the growing Irish language community across the island.
It goes without saying that Irish medium schools welcome children of all backgrounds.
On top of this, Club Óige Setanta (an Irish language youth club) provides a wide range of out of school facilities for Irish speaking children in the city both within and outside of term time.
This dovetails with Irish language summer camps for children attending Irish medium schools, as well as special activities for St Patrick's Day, Halloween, Christmas and Easter.
The club currently has 170 children enrolled, and is in the process of developing its own purpose built premises.
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