Parents as agents in the Irish-medium educational sector

Gabrielle Nig Uidhir, Seán Ó Cathalláin and Pádraig Ó Duibhir

Abstract

Historically, parents have generated a demand for Irish-medium education and they have influenced the increasing number of Irish-medium schools. Therefore, it seems appropriate to investigate the motivating factors that impact on parents’ choice of the Irish-medium system for their children and also to consider the conditions that promote or undermine parental involvement. The topic of parental involvement in children’s education is one of the themes that was analysed in a larger research project that explored key issues from the perspective of various models of Irish-medium education (Ó Duibhir et al. 2015). Stemming from that research, this essay focuses on outcomes relevant to parental involvement specifically. It reports a general satisfaction expressed by parents with the educational choice for their children and conveys positive attitudes in regard to the support available to parents. The essay highlights the importance of parents being informed about some of the results that emerged with regard to the connection between parental involvement and children’s attitude to learning. In this study, a significant relationship was found between patterns of language use at home and children’s views about whether or not parents encouraged them to use Irish. In cases where parents spoke only English at home, the children gave lower scores for parental encouragement and also their own abilities in Irish. Gradually, the corpus of research on issues relating to Irish-medium education is becoming more extensive and is used to guide planning and progress. The authors of this essay hope to contribute to the understanding of parents’ role in their children’s Irish-medium education, analysing complexities in that process and identifying factors that can improve it. The expertise of a range of partners in the Irish-medium sector, including parents, has been consulted during this study and is acknowledged.

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ISSN: 2009-8626