The Claddagh National School has opened its doors to Galway’s Polish community for a Saturday School to keep children in touch with their Polish roots and help their parents to learn English.
The Polish school will operate in the school on Saturdays and has enrolled 130 pupils of primary school age.
Ten Polish teachers will be providing instruction in Polish language, literacy, and numeracy. This will help ensure the children’s culture and language are not lost in their new environment, while also helping their parents to learn more about Irish culture and the English language.
The Polish Weekend School Project is run by the Galway Irish Polish Association to help the Polish community’s educational and social needs in the city.
The principal of the Claddagh National School Brendan Forde, and the intercultural education co-ordinator Annie Asgard presented a proposal on a Claddagh family school to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science in March 2008.
While the children will be studying the Polish language, their parents will be engaged in studying English language and Irish culture. This was made possible through the support the association received from the Galway City Partnership.
Teachers from the Claddagh National School will support the Saturday school by providing the English language instruction and parents will also be encouraged to gain a broader understanding of Irish traditions, civics, and their role in Irish society.
It is hoped this will lead to a greater level of integration and cohesion among the Polish community within Galway city. Such an innovative approach is sure to create a more unified population in Galway.
“The Polish community are very grateful to the board of management and principal for their help and encouragement in developing the school,” said Barbara Lesniak, chairperson of the Galway Irish-Polish Association. “We approached the Claddagh School because of its open culture and ethos and the excellent level of English language support they provide to students for whom English is not a first language.”