Students in disadvantaged schools that learn through the Irish language do better academically in English reading than their peers in other disadvantaged schools.
New research suggests that primary school students in Irish-medium DEIS schools do better in English reading than their counterparts, while also learning Irish as a second language.
However, they also are performing slightly lower than their peers when it comes to maths, which may highlight the need for additional supports to help with learning maths through Irish.
Carried out by Mary Immaculate College (MIC), DCU Institute of Education and the Educational Research Centre (ERC), the study looked at 13 Irish-medium DEIS schools, mainly situated in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Dublin and Waterford.
The results of third and sixth class students in these schools in national assessments were examined, with their scores compared to those attending schools in areas of disadvantage nationally.
Of the 13 schools, six were categorised as DEIS Band 1 schools, where the level of disadvantage is considered higher, while seven schools were classed as Band 2.
By the end of primary school, students in Irish-medium DEIS Band 1 schools were doing "significantly better" at reading than their peers in non-Irish-medium DEIS schools, although the performance of third class students in these schools was significantly lower than the national average.
However, the comparison of test scores in maths showed that students in Irish-medium DEIS Band 2 schools are performing slightly lower than their peers, and third class students in DEIS Band 1 schools performed significantly below national DEIS averages. Those in sixth class performed slightly better.
“Results in mathematic achievements provide valuable insights into the challenges faced by Irish medium DEIS schools and the critical need for additional language and learning supports in these schools to support accessing maths through Irish," said Dr Karen Ní Chlochasaigh, of MIC.
The results also suggest that over time, immersion education in a DEIS school does not impact negatively on the reading attainment of students, which shows the benefits of bilingualism.