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'Teachers key to development of Gaelic language in Scotland' claim as new three-year plan unveiled


By Hector MacKenzie

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Ken Muir
Ken Muir

THE vital role of teachers in the promotion of the Gaelic language in Scotland is acknowledged in a new three-year plan.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland) has launched its revised Gaelic Language Plan.

The plan sets out four key commitments:

* To raise awareness of Gaelic as a language and to support its use through integrated communications.

* To support the development of learning and teaching in Gaelic throughout Scotland.

* To encourage growth of the Gaelic language both within GTC Scotland and externally.

* To promote and support teacher professional development in the Gaelic language.

It complements the National Gaelic Language Plan which aims to promote the language and culture in Scotland. It outlines the need to explore new routes to promote, recruit, educate and retain the Gaelic education workforce and review existing routes into the profession.

And it acknowledges the role GTC Scotland has to play in addressing these challenges.

"Undoubtedly, Gaelic teachers are one of the most important resources in the success of Gaelic education across Scotland and in order to build upon this, an increase in the number of teachers for both Gaelic medium education and Gaelic language education is required." – Ken Muir

As part of its second commitment, GTC Scotland will work with Bòrd na Gàidhlig and other key stakeholders to support individuals to become Gaelic language teachers by ensuring teacher registration processes and information are clear and helpful.

GTC Scotland has already published the 'So you want to teach in Gaelic?' booklet, as part of this commitment, aimed at prospective and current teachers looking to teach through the medium of Gaelic or Gaelic as a language.

Ken Muir, GTC Scotland chief executive and registrar said: “As the professional body for teachers in Scotland, it is only right that our Gaelic plan highlights education’s key role in promoting the Gaelic language in Scotland. We have been working closely with partners already to support the National Plan and are confident the revised plan will strengthen that commitment.”

Jim Whannel, director of Gaelic education at Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig were delighted to work in partnership with GTC Scotland in the production of the 'So you want to teach in Gaelic?' booklet. Undoubtedly, Gaelic teachers are one of the most important resources in the success of Gaelic education across Scotland and in order to build upon this, an increase in the number of teachers for both Gaelic medium education (GME) and Gaelic language education is required.

“This resource will play an important part in promoting both the various routes into a career in Gaelic teaching and the support available. Furthermore, Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes the revised GTC Scotland Gaelic Language Plan and its continued support and commitment to the language.”

Jim Whannel.
Jim Whannel.

John Swinney, deputy First Minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills said: “The Scottish Government recognises the role of Scottish Public Bodies in supporting Gaelic and the aims of our National Plan.

“Education is key to growing the number of speakers and GTC Scotland has a vital part to play in supporting Gaelic Medium Teachers and those interested in joining the profession.I am sure this Plan will ensure that Gaelic is at the heart of their work going forward.”

Gayle Gorman, HM chief inspector and chief executive of Education Scotland, said: “Education Scotland welcomes the key actions that GTC Scotland has identified for growing Gaelic in Scotland. We are proud to evidence the successes of the Gaelic sector. We recognise that high-quality teachers are the most valuable asset that Scotland has for securing a sustainable future for the Gaelic language. Teachers need to be continually valued and supported in this crucial role.We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in meeting outcomes for Gaelic.”

There are several routes into Gaelic teaching in Scotland. Degree and postgraduate courses accredited by GTC Scotland are available at University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde, University of the Highlands and Islands, available through several campuses including Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Lews Castle College.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has supported a number of local authorities to enable those with a teaching qualification to participate in year-long Gaelic immersion courses.

At University of Aberdeen, the Streap programme enables qualified teachers to further develop their Gaelic language skills. Primary teachers are also encouraged to consider delivering Gaelic via the 1+2 Languages approach. Further information about Gaelic teaching routes can be found in the 'So you want to teach in Gaelic?' booklet.

Shonagh McLennan, principal teacher at Inverness Royal Academy said: “It’s important to me that I have the opportunity to introduce Gaelic to the next generation. I learned Gaelic myself and therefore understand how hard it can be to learn a new language. I am pleased that I can use this experience to help my pupils.

“I have a degree in both Gaelic and history and am fortunate enough to be able to use both with my pupils every day."

Ishbal MacLeod, teacher of Gàidhlig and social subjects, at Greenfaulds Academy, Cumbernauld, and a former GME pupil, said:“It is a joy to be involved in giving our young people an opportunity to learn the language and experience the culture as they follow the curriculum through the medium of Gaelic, as I did. You can see their confidence with the language and as young people grow. I don’t know of any other career that can give you a feeling of success like that.”

Kevin Munsie
Kevin Munsie

Kevin Munsie, a primary teacher, on Skye, said: "Teaching children and seeing them develop is great. Doing it through the language we love is unique."

Iain MacSween PGDE student, Gaelic Secondary, University of the Highlands and Island, said: "Teaching Gaelic enables me to indulge in my passion for the language, while at the same time nurturing and encouraging the next generation of speakers.”

Iain MacSween: Passion.
Iain MacSween: Passion.

Professor Neil Simco, vice-principal research and impact, University of the Highlands and Islands and GTC Scotland Council member, said:“I started to learn Gaelic in 2011, when I first attended a short course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership.

"My initial motivation for learning was a basic professional courtesy to be able to at least greet Gaelic speaking colleagues in the language. Over the last few years, I have come to appreciate the significance of Gaelic as part of Scotland’s identity, national and community life and it has been a real privilege to progress with my own learning."

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