National Gaelic Language Plan creates more career opportunities for teachers

The second National Gaelic Language Plan, prepared for the Scottish Government by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, prioritises pre-school and school education alongside community action to increase the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland over the next 5 years.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig will play a leading role in coordinating with other organisations the planning and rolling out of a teacher education strategy for Gaelic teachers. This includes initial teacher education, support for teachers currently teaching through the medium of English interested in transferring to Gaelic-medium education and support for teachers currently in the Gaelic system. Whilst the Plan’s headline target is to double over five years the number of children entering Primary One Gaelic medium education, growth in the numbers of children accessing Gaelic through the Gaelic Language in Primary Schools (GLPS) initiative is also envisaged, as well as increased numbers continuing with Gaelic throughout Secondary education in Gaelic-medium education and Gaelic learner education.  Both developments will require a substantial increase in the numbers of Gaelic teachers.

Launching the Scottish Government’s second National Gaelic Language Plan on a visit today (Thursday 28 June) to Stenhouse Primary School in Edinburgh, which has enthusiastically embraced the GLPS initiative, the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan said: “There is both the need and the opportunity for the training of more Gaelic teachers to meet the demands of swelling pupil numbers and the final National Plan recognises this. Within it are a number of radical but realistic steps to help the Gaelic language grow, including calls to double the number of children going through Gaelic-medium education. Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s objectives are now clear for the coming years and I am confident that through this plan they can work towards a sustainable future for the language in Scotland.”

There is a need to strengthen the infrastructure of Gaelic education and learning generally by supporting the recruitment of a confident, appropriately trained workforce in order to service the expansion of Gaelic education. Along with the help of the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and further education institutions the Bòrd will support initiatives to increase the range of courses available to those who wish to enter teaching, or to transfer to teaching Gaelic or through the medium of Gaelic. The Bòrd is currently conducting a survey to establish how many teachers will be required at various levels of education in Local Authority areas.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Interim-Cathraiche (Chair) Elizabeth McAtear said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig are committed to ensuring adequate attention is given to the recruitment, retention, education, support and development of Gaelic-medium and Gaelic-learner teachers. It is a testament to a year of hard work that we are able to welcome the launch of the National Gaelic Language Plan 2012 – 2017.  I would like to thank all those that played a part in the early engagement and formal consultation phases of preparation of the Plan. Without their knowledge and input the Plan may not have been as effective as I am sure it will prove to be.    There is no denying we are aiming high but we welcome the challenge and hope that through the Plan we can strengthen the language and culture, which belongs to the whole of Scotland.”

Leader of The Highland Council, Councilor Drew Hendry congratulated Bòrd na Gàidhlig on developing the National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17 – ‘Growth and Improvement’.  He said: “The National Plan is focused on positive, strategic outcomes, with action planned in areas where there is potential growth for increasing the number of Gaelic learners and speakers.  These range from Gaelic in the Home, in Early Years and in Education, to the significant impact of Gaelic in the Arts and Media and in the Heritage and Tourism sectors.”

“The Highland Council has recently approved its own second generation Draft Gaelic Language Plan for the next four years; and we look forward to implementing it as soon as possible and in concert with this forward looking National Plan.  The strategic themes in the Council Plan are aligned to the outcomes of the National Plan, and it was therefore important that the public had an opportunity to comment on the themes at a series of consultation meetings which were held throughout the Highlands.  The creation of the National Gaelic Language Plan and the Council’s Gaelic Plan is an excellent example of best practice and partnership working between organisations and the Council believes they will lead to sustaining and increasing the number of Gaelic speakers in the years ahead.”

Whilst giving priority to learning Gaelic in Early Years and Education to increase the numbers of Gaelic speakers, the Plan also emphasizes the importance of increasing the use of Gaelic in communities and by Public Authorities.

Also welcoming the launch of the plan, Northern Joint Police Board Convener, Norman M MacLeod said: “As Convener for the Northern Joint Police Board I am delighted to be able to support Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the second National Gaelic Language Plan. The Bòrd has set clear targets for supporting and developing the Gaelic Language and the number of Gaelic speakers.  The support and commitment of Bòrd na Gàidhlig has allowed Northern Constabulary to develop an online ‘Gaelic Toolkit’ for our staff to increase their awareness and understanding of the Gaelic Language and we are currently working towards submitting our own Gaelic Language Plan to the Bòrd setting out our plans to enhance and develop the role of Gaelic within Northern Constabulary.”

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