Derry Irish language primary school, Gaelscoil na Daróige, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and has plans for continued growth.
The school opened its doors in 2003 with a handful of pupils but has grown and developed over the last decade and now has almost 80 children between the gaelscoil and naiscoil.
Brian Mac Neachtain, manager of the gaelscoil said; “This year Naíscoil na Daróige celebrates its tenth year offering a bilingual education. This has given the parents the opportunity to give their child the gift of the Irish language in a part of Derry which formally had no Irish medium education facilities.”
Mr Mac Neachtain said the decade of Irish medium education has helped the development of the Irish language in the city. “Naíscoil and Gaelscoil na Daróige have been an enormous benefit to the development of the Irish language in this area.
“From humble beginnings in terms of children attending the naíscoil and gaelscoil we have almost eighty children attending our school and a growing list of parents who desire a bilingual education for their children,” he said.
As well as primary education through Irish, the school also offers preschool education services. “The children now start at our naíscoil at the age of three and then move up to our gaelscoil becoming fully bilingual in Irish and English by the age of eleven.
“Recent research has indicated that children attending Irish medium schools achieve higher results in mathematics and English than children attending English medium schools.
“This type of research has increased demand and lead to our Irish speaking community expanding and developing with our facilities now being used every evening after school and even at the weekend for activities and events for the community.
“We always see ourselves as a community school and have a great relationship with parents, whom we know on a first name basis. We try to involve whole families in the life of the school, from the younger brothers and sisters of pupils to the parents.
“They are all part of the wider school community,” he explained.
The gaelscoil manager also said the school, which received official recognition from the Department of Education in 2009, will continue to grow work on a new permanent building expected to begin next summer.
“We are looking forward to the future as the school continues to grow by year and the new preschool will be holding their annual open day on Wednesday December 4th from 4pm to 6pm.
“New parents are welcome to come along and meet the staff and parents of children attending the naíscoil to view our facilities and get further information on bilingual education,” he said.
Gaelscoil na Daróige currently employs four staff in its naíscoil and four teaching staff and two classroom assistants in its gaelscoil.