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Highland Council unveils Gaelic schools map

August 23, 2013

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Grassroots Gaelic

May 17, 2013

Crawford Mackie’s letter about research into Gaelic language education (14 May) was redolent of the type of blustering train crash which generally occurs when prejudice comes up against scientific research.
After a scattergun ad hominem attack on the academics involved, Mr Mackie questioned the sample size of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, while indicating that if Bòrd na Gàidhlig had funded its own survey it would be, in his view, invalid.

It appears he would rather no research was carried out and that opinions, most likely his own, were given free sway. And to the 91 per cent majority of adult respondents who did not give a “satisfactory” answer to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, Mr Mackie can only give a patronising response.

We are told they “will not be considering the cost”, as if Mr Mackie himself was aware of their considerations as they ­responded to the survey. The letter descended from there into further absurdity.

I do have some sympathy with the rage such research must engender in those who would rather eradicate the language, proving as it does, that they too are a minority – in the case of Mr Mackie’s view on Gaelic- medium education, one of only 8 per cent, give or take the margin of error.

Gaelic-medium education is one of the great grassroots ­success stories of Scottish education of recent generations, being led at all times by parents ­demanding that their children too should be afforded the right to a bilingual education.

Mr Mackie may want to homogenise Scotland but I, and it would seem 91 per cent of others, disagree.

Aonghas Mac Leòid
Malloch Street


The debate about whether or not Gaelic should be taught in Scottish schools is becoming somewhat aggressive in tone.

Many of those who are against it argue that Gaelic is a pointless, inward-looking language that is of no use to anyone out there in the real world. It would be more useful, they say, for children to learn languages such as Spanish, French, German and even Chinese.

Some of those who are fighting for Gaelic in schools argue that it is a unique and important feature of Scottish culture and that funding should be preserved so that it can be taught to as many children as possible. Surely the truth and a workable solution are somewhere in between. Nobody reasonable should be arguing that being able to speak Gaelic will help anyone get a well-paid job or to do dazzling trade in other countries, but there is more to life than making money.

There are many skills and experiences that young people can gather which contribute to the richness of their character and society. Whether we are for independence or not, we have good reasons to be proud of our country, and preserving its language is a crucial part of that.

When languages die out, that’s that. They’re gone forever. We can’t let that happen.

Morag Gregory
Kersland Street


Half of Scots back right to send child to Gaelic school

May 13, 2013

ALMOST half of Scots believe parents should have the right to send their children to a Gaelic school, research shows.
Analysis of results from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found there was widespread support for youngsters being able to attend Gaelic-medium education, where classes are taught in Gaelic with English as a secondary language.

The survey found that 48 per cent of people thought parents should have the choice of Gaelic education across Scotland. This rose to 91 per cent when respondents were asked if parents in Gaelic-speaking areas should have the right.

But access to Gaelic-medium education is currently low, with figures showing just 2,418 children – about 0.6 per cent of Scottish primary school pupils – are being taught in such schools.

The survey also found that more than a third (37 per cent) of people thought that all pupils aged five to 16 should have to study Gaelic for one to two hours a week regardless of what type of school they were in, while 36 per cent disagreed and 26 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed.

The analysis was carried out by Soillsei, an inter-university Gaelic language research project, based on the results of last year’s Scottish Social Attitudes Survey with a sample of 1,229 people.

Despite the millions spent on trying to save Gaelic – and various Scottish Government initiatives from bilingual signs to education – many respondents expressed doubt about the future of the language, which is spoken by fewer than 60,000 Scots.

More than half – 53 per cent – thought that in 50 years the language would be spoken by fewer people than now, with only 14 per cent believing that it would be spoken by more.

Just under a third (32 per cent) of Scots believed that the use of Gaelic should be encouraged throughout Scotland, but 87 per cent believed that it should be encouraged in ­Gaelic-speaking areas. Only 11 per cent did not want Gaelic to be ­encouraged at all.

When asked whether learning Gaelic was pointless in the 21st century, 44 per cent disagreed and only 22 per cent agreed.

Despite rows over Gaelic road signs and other public signage – which have been fiercely ­opposed in places like Caithness – barely half (58 per cent) of respondents had seen any such signs.

But the research found there was a positive impact of public sector interventions to support Gaelic, with 70 per cent having heard the language in their homes on television or radio.

Soillsei project director Professor Lindsay Paterson, from Edinburgh University, said: “These results from the highly-respected Scottish Social Attitudes Survey show widespread support for Gaelic – probably much more extensively than is often supposed.”

John Angus MacKay, chief executive of Gaelic development agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig, added: “The results clearly indicate that a large majority of the Scottish population recognise that the Gaelic language and culture are an integral part of Scotland’s identity.”


New Gaelic school planned for Glasgow

February 8, 2013

A NEW Gaelic school is to be created in Glasgow following an £800,000 investment from the Scottish Government.

The primary school will be part of the existing Glendale Campus in Pollokshields. Alastair Allan, the minister for learning, said:

“The continued increase in demand for Gaelic medium education in Glasgow clearly demonstrates that parents are not only recognising the impressive learning benefits that come with a bilingual education, but that we are securing a sustainable and vibrant future for the language in future generations.

“I am delighted to announce this latest funding and look forward to work beginning on the school to create an environment that will inspire pupils and school staff throughout their time there.”

Glasgow’s first Gaelic school, at Woodside, opened in August 2006. Councillor Stephen Curran added: “This money is very welcome.

“Along with investment from Glasgow City Council the provision will create opportunities for over 200 Gaelic speaking pupils and the new school will help provide progression for teachers in Gaelic medium education by extending their prospects in the city and alleviate the pressure on the Woodside campus.”