Education Minister Peter Weir has visited a second West Belfast post primary in a matter of days.
The DUP man today met staff and pupils during a visit to Irish medium college Coláiste Feirste on the Falls Road.
The Minister spent some time with pupils – under strict social distancing restrictions – and heard about the innovative and creative ways they had been maintaining their learning during the pandemic.
Micheál Mac Giolla Ghunna, principal of Coláiste Feirste, said: “It is of course very encouraging that Minister Weir visited with us today. Demand for Irish-medium education has surged in recent years as parents see the quality of education and wonderful opportunities we deliver for our young people. We need that same belief to register at the policy making level.
At Coláiste Feirste the numbers speak for themselves and we continue to have more young people seeking to enrol than we have enrolment places for them. Year-on-year we have to get special approval to take in extra pupils because we are over-subscribed well beyond our 100 places in each year group. This week, for example, we welcome 180 new Year 8 pupils. This is a cause for celebration and marks another leap forward for the school. But it needs to be matched by strategic investment to ensure we continue to grow our accommodation and resource base in line with pupil numbers. By taking action together we will make progress in these areas.
“I impressed upon the Minister the importance of taking decisions on these issues quickly to facilitate the development of Coláiste Feirste and invest equitably in our highly successful model of learning.”
Last week Mr Weir met with staff at All Saints College on the Glen Road where he discussed a new build and campus for the recently amalgamated post primary.
Today’s visit was Mr Weir’s second visit to Coláiste Feirste. Back in June 2016 he visited Coláiste Feirste, in what was then his first ministerial visit to any school since taking up the reigns as Education Minister.
During that visit he met with staff and pupils and said that “no pupil should be disadvantaged by what is on their school badge”.
The Education Minister’s latest visit occurs at a time when the Irish medium sector is enjoying unprecedented growth in the North with a total of 92 schools providing Irish medium education to over 6,000 children at pre-school, primary and post primary level.