Applications for the Irish Language Assistants programme are now open

Every year, we seek to recruit fluent speakers of Irish to work in schools throughout Northern Ireland to help support the teaching and learning of Irish.

Successful applicants are matched to placements offered by schools for one academic year only, after which they may re-apply to the programme for a further year. Hours of work per week depend upon the requests we receive from schools and upon your own availability and mobility. If you would like to receive information or an alert, please email Languageassistants.UK@britishcouncil.org

Eligibility criteria:

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application and have at least a C1 level of Irish on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).

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We would strongly advise reading the below information before applying to be an Irish Language Assistant.

A year as an Irish Language Assistant is an ideal opportunity to:

  • Gain teaching experience
  • Enhance your career
  • Develop essential transferable skills
  • Contribute to your own personal development

Who is your employer as an Irish Language Assistant?

If your application is approved by us in the UK, it will be forwarded to your host institution(s) in Northern Ireland.

We have responsibility for selecting Irish Language Assistants to recommend for Irish Language assistantships in Northern Ireland. It is important to bear in mind that we the British Council are not your employer and therefore are not able to provide references to future employers.

What are the British Council’s responsibilities?

We will not be your employer but will:

  • process your application and, if successful, pass your application to your allocated host institution(s).
  • communicate any decisions made by the British Council in relation to your application. Before you begin your assistantship, we will share a line of referral with you to outline how problems should be reported and managed.
  • provide guidance on how to prepare for your assistantship, including how to contact your school.
  • send surveys to you during and after your assistantship to gather feedback which will help us to improve the programme each year.

What are your responsibilities?

It is your responsibility to:

  • ensure you are eligible for the programme before applying by reading the above criteria carefully
  • manage the relationship with your employer (your school or local authority)
  • fulfil your contractual obligations. We cannot intervene in contractual negotiations on your behalf
  • read and follow any guidance or instructions which we send you
  • attend any pre-departure briefings or arrival inductions
  • follow the Assistantship Code of Conduct (see below)
  • be responsible for your work/life balance and personal safety
  • research and meet all costs associated with your assistantship including travel, accommodation, criminal record checks
  • find acceptable accommodation which suits your needs.
  • support the teaching of Irish in a school in Northern Ireland, including planning activities and producing resources to help students improve their Irish

It is not your responsibility to:

  • teach in any language other than Irish and English
  • discipline pupils or mark homework regularly
  • cover for illness at short notice unless otherwise agreed in advance

If you do not feel comfortable with tasks you are asked to do you should follow the standard line of referral in your host institution.

Assistantship Code of Conduct

In submitting an application, all candidates agree to abide by the Modern Language Assistants Code of Conduct.

A full Safeguarding Code of Conduct will be shared and published online in the coming months.

Irish Language Assistants programme: Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions

  1. Should you be selected to participate in the Irish Language Assistants programme, you must adhere to the Modern Language Assistants Code of Conduct.
  2. Should you be selected to participate in the Language Assistants programme you must complete the full period for which you are appointed.
  3. The British Council cannot guarantee your preferred area. We encourage assistants to be as flexible as possible.
  4. Referee details cannot be changed once an application has been submitted. It is each applicant’s own responsibility to ensure that the contact details for their referee are correct and that their referee submits a reference by the deadline. If a reference is not submitted by the deadline your application will not be considered.
  5. In line with our Child Protection Policy and our approach to safeguarding children, we cannot accept your application if you currently have any outstanding prosecutions or criminal proceedings for the offences outlined below or have ever been convicted of or received a caution, reprimand or warning for: a sexual or violence-related offence, or any offence involving any type of harm (physical, emotional or sexual abuse) to a child or children. We reserve the right to reject your application for any other offences. These will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  6. Please note that after submission of your application form, if you commit a criminal offence or are the subject of any criminal proceedings, you must inform us in writing as soon as possible as this could affect your application and may lead to your application being withdrawn if this is not disclosed.

The British Council reserve the right to withdraw any offer made, either before or during your assistantship.

Irish Language Assistants in Schools

The Irish Language Assistants programme is open to all schools in Northern Ireland where Irish is taught. Assistants are in post from approximately October through to May and are contracted for between 1 to 18 a week. The period of appointment and working hours is agreed between the host institution and the appointed Irish Language Assistant.

Irish Language Assistants work in the classroom to boost motivation and develop learner confidence. You can see more information through our salary and the role of an assistant  pages. 

You can find out more about sharing an Irish Language Assistant with up to two other local schools on our Sharing Arrangements page.

Applications to host an Irish Language Assistant in 2024-25 have now closed. Applications to host an Irish Language Assistant in 2025-26 will open in early 2025.

If you would like to receive information or an alert, please email Languageassistants.UK@britishcouncil.org