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Living in Ireland

Education in Ireland. Primary Schools.

Because of the growing number of questions on education in Ireland we decided to shed some light on the subject and dedicate some of our posts to it. But firstly we would like to talk about the Irish educational system, which originated from monastic settlements in early Christian Ireland like the monastic settlement of Glendalough, which we talked about earlier.

Of course, the educational standard in Ireland nowadays isn’t only quite high, but education is also taken place in a modern environment.

The entire educational process of Ireland is divided into three levels. The first level is the start of a child’s education in a Primary school, which a child must attend for eight years. The fact that the official age at which a child has to go to school is six notwithstanding, 70% of parents get their children to go to school when they are around four or five, which is recommended.

St.Monica School in Dublin

And in some schools, education starts at three years old, for example, in our case, our youngest son went to school when he was three years old. Of course when teaching children at this age the main teaching tools are toys and the children only spend about 2.5 hours learning, but this still counts as learning, with most of the attributes of school, including teachers and a school uniform.

Usually, the two infant classes last about 4.5 hours per class, First class lasts about 5 hours per class and then all the way from Second class to Sixth class the children spend 5.5 hours in school everyday. During the school day the children only get two breaks, one lasting 15 minutes and the other lasting 25 minutes. But there are teachers, which we will talk about later, that provide special activities during school time that can respectively count as breaks.

The average school year in Primary schools lasts about ten months, from the start September to the end of July. A large weekly amount of work and the length of the school year are compensated by holidays. All in all, a school child gets around 180 days off every year.

Ireland’s economy allows Primary schools to have Resource teachers that help teach children with disabilities or special needs in classes suitable for their learning ability. Also, some classes have S.N.A’s (special need assistants) who work with students that have problems with learning because of illnesses such as dyslexia or autism.

Most of the schools here in Ireland are Catholic schools, with separate schools for boys and girls. Apart from these schools there are also schools where children that aren’t Catholic are taught and also schools where the teachers teach in Irish (just to remind you, Ireland has two state languages, Irish and English).

In Catholic schools every year children in Second class go through an important religions ceremony called “The First Holly Communion” and during the last year of Primary school, children in both Catholic and Protestant schools go through another religions ceremony called “Confirmation”.

St.Malach's B.N.S. in Dublin

In Catholic schools and in schools where the teachers teach in the Irish language, the students have an obligation to wear a school uniform. Also every school’s uniform has a unique design.

In all Irish Primary schools, the children get a free lunch. Usually this lunch consists of milk, sandwiches and a couple of fresh fruits. In some of these schools the children even get a free breakfast. Usually this breakfast consists of a cereal eaten with milk and a drink.

All in all, Irish Primary schools give all children the chance to learn and become the best they can be with their level of intellectual ability and prepare for the next stage of Irish education, Secondary school.

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