There could soon be changes to how pupils can opt out of studying Irish
The rules which determine how a child at school can opt out of studying Irish could soon be changed.
The Department of Education wants to update the current practices around exemptions after a review found that the current system is not fit for purpose.
Irish is compulsory at primary and secondary school but some pupils are eligible for exemptions.
The proposed new rules would raise from 11 to 12 the age at which a child can seek an exemption if they have ever been educated outside of Ireland, a report in The Irish Times states.
Pupils would be eligible if they had been educated outside of Ireland for three years.
The rules would also change how a child's learning ability is assessed, taking the focus off IQ.
The department is thought to be looking at introducing these changes in the 2019/2020 school year.
The numbers of pupils in schools who have opted out of studying Irish at primary level doubled between 2004 and 2009.
Between 0.8 per cent and one per cent now have an exemption.
Exemptions are much more common at second level - they quadrupled to 11 per cent in 2010 and are now at nine per cent.
Students with a learning difficulty account for 63 per cent of exemptions.
The number of students who are opting out of studying Irish due to stress or anxiety has increased, the department found in its- review.
There are said to be concerns that some students are playing the system to get unwarranted exemptions and avoid what is considered one of the trickier exam subjects.