Primary Initial Teacher Education Requirements

7 February 2018


For Written Answer on : 07/02/2018 

Question Number(s): 121 Question Reference(s): 6183/18 

Department: Education and Skills 



To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the proposed changes to the Irish language requirements for PME courses; the way in which they impact on persons planning to take a course; and if he will make a statement on the matter.




I understand that the Deputy is referring to the criteria for entry to primary Initial Teacher Education.  

In addition to the CAO points required (in the case of the Bachelor of Education) or the third level award requirement (in the case of the Postgraduate Masters in Education) for entry to programmes of primary Initial Teacher Education, my Department specifies minimum entry requirements in the core subjects of Irish, English and Mathematics. 

In October 2017, I announced changes to these minimum entry requirements, as follows: 

  • Entry 2018 - Irish: H5, English: H7/O5, Maths: H7/O6 
  • Entry 2019 and entry 2020 - Irish: H4, English: H7/O4, Maths: H7/O4 

The changes that I introduced took account of advice to me provided by the Teaching Council, which had engaged in a consultation process around a number of matters relating to entry to initial teacher education. Many of the issues identified were complex and the Council commissioned the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) to carry out research to inform its deliberation.  

The changes also had regard to the Department’s policy “Supporting a Better Transition from Second Level to Higher Education – Implementation and Next Steps” (2015). 

In determining the revised entry requirements, care was taken not to disadvantage those students who have already commenced the senior cycle and who intend sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2018. Accordingly, I decided that the minimum entry grades for primary Initial Teacher Education programmes should be increased for 2019 rather than from 2018. However, to have applied this criterion to undergraduate students who might wish to apply for the PME at some time in the future, it would mean deferring the changes for four years or more. In the case of graduates who do not meet the new Irish entry requirement, the Deputy might wish to note that there are a number of options available in this regard. 

The revision of entry criteria for primary initial teacher education is part of a wider range of actions being implemented or developed to achieve the objective of developing the continuum of teacher education to equip teachers with the right skills for 21st century teaching and learning, and the overall vision of making the Irish education and training system the best in Europe over the next decade. The changes seek to ensure that primary teachers have the capacity to lead in significant and fundamental areas of student learning: English, Irish and Maths.  

Further changes to the minimum entry requirements from 2021 onwards will be considered in the light of experience, relevant policy developments and following consultation with relevant stakeholders.  

I do not plan to further adjust the minimum entry requirements or to allow exemptions to the requirements, in advance of this.