A major study of Gaeltacht schools has found that 10% of their pupils are leaving school with little or no Irish.

The report, which was commissioned by the Educational Council for Gaeltacht schools, says the schools are facing significant difficulties recruiting Irish speaking teachers, and in most, English is now the main conversational language among pupils.

The study found that a quarter of pupils leaving Gaeltacht primary schools had only a reasonable level of Irish. At Leaving Certificate level 18% had a reasonable level and 10% had little or no Irish.

The statistics include schools in Gaeltacht areas where Irish is no longer a spoken language, and include some schools that no longer teach through the medium of Irish.

However, the figures show that even in areas where Irish is still the main spoken language 14% of 6th class primary pupils and 7% of Leaving Cert students are not regarded as having fluent or good Irish.

The report has recommended a redefinition of what it means to be a Gaeltacht school as well as more support for those schools.