Changes to the way schools grant exemptions from Irish are coming in from September.

One of the major changes means that students in special schools or classes will be automatically exempt.

Almost 40,000 pupils avail of Irish exemptions.

For the first time in over 25 years, the Minister for Education has announced new criteria for schools to grant an exemption.

Under the new changes, pupils in special schools or special classes will be automatically exempt from learning Irish, and students with special needs or learning difficulties will no longer need a psychologists report.

Exemptions will continue to be awarded by school principals and for the first time there will be an appeals system.

Minister Joe McHugh says the changes which will be introduced in September will be fairer and more supportive of students.

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