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First Irish-medium Integrated Primary School in Northern Ireland to open

22 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Reading time at naíscoil

Stephen Price

Scoil na Seolta, the first Irish-medium Integrated Primary School in Northern Ireland, will open its doors in September 2024.

Scoil na Seolta is the latest achievement brought about by the pioneering work of Linda Ervine, manager of the Turas Project in east Belfast, which for the last twelve years has been offering Irish language classes and cultural experiences to people who might not otherwise have been able to access them.

Integrated schools bring together children and staff from Catholic and Protestant traditions, as well as those of other faiths or none.

The schools are open to children of different abilities from all religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

This new educational opportunity began with the provision of a naíscoil (the equivalent of a meithrin in Wales) in 2021.

Enriching lives

Despite some opposition at the beginning, the naíscoil has become deeply embedded in the local community.

“This area of Belfast remains quite unionist,” said Aodán Mac Séafraidh, the Chair of the Naíscoil Committee, “but people are realising that this does not conflict with an interest in, or love for, the Irish language.

“It’s not about politics. The language actually enriches people’s connection with the place they are from.”

Naíscoil na Seolta

For a number of years, Naíscoil na Seolta has been privileged to run its provision in two local churches. But with numbers increasing, a new site has been secured in the Castlereagh/Cregagh area of east Belfast.

The Naíscoil offers places to pre-pre and pre-school children and from September 2024 will offer places to children starting P.1.

For now, Scoil na Seolta will be run on a voluntary basis and has secured funding to support this.

“Happy children learning together”

“We are thrilled at the positive reception for Scoil na Seolta,” said Committee member Linda Ervine.

“We dropped leaflets through the doors in the local community and people were really interested in what we were doing.

“We cannot wait to offer more families in east Belfast the opportunity to experience the richness of bilingualism in an integrated setting.

“People are pleased to see east Belfast become more diverse and inclusive.”

“Naíscoil and Scoil na Seolta are bringing new positive educational experiences to the children in their local community.”

Naíscoil na Seolta means ‘nursery of the sails’ – a nod to east Belfast’s ship building history.

The motto of the Naíscoil and the new Bunscoil (primary school) is “Páistí sona ag foghlaim le chéile” which means “Happy children learning together”.

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1 month ago

Lovely, fingers crossed it’s a success and that more such school are to follow.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

The language can bring the younger residents of different traditions together ✔️

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