Gaelic pupil numbers ‘can be doubled with more teachers’
A MAJOR push to train more teachers in Gaelic has been announced, to try to double the number of pupils speaking the language in Scotland.
Development agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig has produced the second National Gaelic Plan for the Scottish Government, making its headline target to increase the number of pupils speaking the language entering Primary One from 400 to 800 a year.
To meet this aim, officials are prioritising pre-school education alongside community action.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig will play a leading role in rolling out a teacher education strategy.
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.
Dr Alasdair Allan, the minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages, launched the Scottish Government’s National Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17 on a visit to Stenhouse Primary School in Edinburgh yesterday.
He 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.”
The plan states there is a need to strengthen the infrastructure of Gaelic education and learning generally by supporting the recruitment of a confident, properly 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.
The Bòrd is currently conducting a survey to establish how many teachers will be needed at various levels of education in each council area.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig interim-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.
“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,” she added.
Highland Council leader Drew Hendry 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.”
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