St Mary’s University College is a Higher Education Institution in Belfast, Northern Ireland that specialises in teacher education as well as delivering a Liberal Arts programme. Initial Teacher education for Irish-medium schools was introduced by St Mary's University College in 1995. This initiative was a pioneering development in Ireland. Before this, student teachers for Irish-medium primary schools could only avail of education programmes in English and designed for the English-medium sector. St Mary's has made a unique contribution to Irish-medium Teacher Education.
The Team of Irish-medium Lecturing staff has many years’ experience teaching in immersion schools and has developed a programme that provides specialist teacher education for the Irish-medium primary and also for the post-primary sector. This has involved innovative work in developing a pedagogy that draws upon Content and Language Integrated Learning but also includes an important discrete language learning element. This blend of approaches is underpinned by the principles of immersion education. The Irish-medium provision in St Mary's has been expanded to include Masters Level modules, delivered as part of the Continuing Professional Learning programme for practising teachers, and also includes a dynamic course for Classroom Assistants in Irish-medium schools.
College staff is also very engaged in research into Irish-medium education and have contributed to key strategic developments in this area. Academic research makes impact through a range of pathways – cultural, resources and services, and quality of educational provision.
The College also produces learning materials for the Irish-medium schools. These resources and materials are produced in the Áisaonad where staff works in partnership with schools to develop high quality books for pupils.