Seventh attempt to find Gaelic school head as Swede misses out

The school in Inverness. Picture: Google
The school in Inverness. Picture: Google
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A FLAGSHIP Gaelic school is still without a headteacher after the only applicant – a Swede who isn’t fluent in the language – failed to get the job.

Annika Jansson, the current acting head, was revealed as the sole candidate for the £48,000-a-year post at the £4 million Inverness primary, sparking outcry from parents.

But the interview process was completed yesterday and the panel of three councillors and three parents announced it had decided not to fill the post.

A Highland Council spokesman confirmed it had been unsuccessful in appointing a permanent headteacher for Bun-sgoil Ghaidhlig Inbhir Nis – Inverness Gaelic Medium 
Primary School.

He said the vacancy process would be restarted shortly – for a seventh time. The council has been trying to fill the post for the past three years and even controversially waived the condition that applicants must be fluent in Gaelic. When the school opened in 2007, it was the first purpose-built Gaelic-school in Scotland. It has 169 primary school pupils and 94 nursery pupils.

The decision not to appoint Miss Jansson has delighted those who opposed a non-Gaelic speaker getting the job.

Inverness councillor Jim Crawford said: “It would have been ludicrous having a headteacher from Sweden in a Gaelic-speaking school who couldn’t speak Gaelic. It is claimed this was an administration job, and not a class-facing role. If that is so, then why pay the headteacher so much money?

“The whole Gaelic thing in Scotland is completely out of hand. The claim is there are 60,000 people who can speak Gaelic, but how many of that number can read or write it?

“If the Scottish Government is so keen to spend so much money on the language, why not spend the same of the likes of Doric, which is also a struggling language?”

Earlier this month, a European minority languages organisation had raised concerns about making a non Gaelic-speaking appointment.

The European Language Equality Network wrote to Highland Council asking it to consider alternative ways to fill the post, such as appointing a Gaelic speaker and giving them managerial support.

A spokesman for the government’s Gaelic advisers Bord na Gaidhlig said the issue was a matter for the council as it had not been part of the process.

However, the Bord’s head of education and learning, Mary MacMillan, said last week: “We believe a Gaelic-speaking headteacher is essential to the development and status of Gaelic language in a Gaelic school.”

Dawn Morgan, chairwoman of the Gaelic school parent body Comann nam Parent, said: “Surely Highland Council could run an imaginative recruitment campaign that reaches into the wider Gaelic community?”

“Council adverts have been in obscure locations – no wonder few heard about them in time.”

Councillor Alasdair Christie, chairman of the council’s adult and children’s services committee, said there was “no evidence” a non-Gaelic-speaking head could damage pupils’ learning.