City schools' Gaelic plans put on hold

PLANS to expand the teaching of Gaelic in Edinburgh's secondary schools are set to be put on hold.

The city council is currently conducting a review following a rapid increase in the number of pupils wanting to study the language.

And it had planned to move specialist Gaelic classes from James Gillespie's - where the school roll is currently at its 1150 capacity - to the new Tynecastle High.

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However, it emerged today that plans for expanding Gaelic provision in secondary schools have been shelved until a way forward is found for the teaching of the language in primary schools.

And the council also ruled out any prospect of expanding the number of places available at the new James Gillespie's - as that would cost 5 million.

Councillor Paul Godzik, the education spokesman for the Labour group on the city council, said: "They should look at this issue realistically and both primary and secondary should be looked at together as we need a holistic view.

"We have to look across the board and not by looking at primary first then secondary because primary provision will have an effect on secondary. If there is going to be an impact on James Gillespie's we need to be able to look at how to deal with that."

Council chiefs are currently assessing options for primary school Gaelic teaching, with one option of creating a new dedicated Gaelic school within the old Bonnington Primary likely to cost 2.2m. A second option could see a Gaelic Medium Education (GME) unit opened within Leith Walk Primary to run alongside the education already provided at Tollcross Primary.

Pressure on availability could grow further if the Scottish Government presses ahead with proposals to make primary 1-3 class sizes in Gaelic schools smaller than its proposed maximum of 25 pupils in mainstream primary schools.

There was due to be a consultation with parents on moving secondary provision to Tynecastle at the same time as proposals were discussed for primary provision but that is now on the back burner.

In a newsletter following a meeting with council officials, Alasdair Cameron, convener of parents group Comann nam Prant Edinburgh, said: "At secondary level, it is anticipated that any proposed changes will be shelved for the foreseeable future.

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"The council is interested in discussing methods of enhancing GME provision at James Gillespie's High School."

A city council spokesman said: "In the short term, we want to ensure that the quality of Gaelic education provision remains high in the city but we will need to continue to look at options to satisfy the demand."

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