Row over £10m Gaelic school opening on Isle of Skye

A bitter row has broken out on the Isle of Skye over a new £10m Gaelic school, which one local councillor has dubbed a 'disaster for community relations'.

A new Gaelic school has opened in Portree, the largest town on Isle of Skye. Picture: Donald MacLeod
A new Gaelic school has opened in Portree, the largest town on Isle of Skye. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Bun Sgoil Ghaidhlig Phort Righ - Portree Gaelic School - opened on Monday with a roll of 123 pupils.

The school is the fifth dedicated Gaelic specific school in Scotland – and the third in the Highland region - to offer pupils the opportunity to be educated in the form of Gaelic medium education.

But John Finlayson, a former head teacher of Portree primary school and a Highland councillor, said pupils in a small community should not be divided by language. He criticised the decision not to consider a dual campus project which would have seen English-speaking and Gaelic-speaking pupils mixing at break times.

“The questions being raised are not about the provision of Gaelic-medium education itself but about equity and fairness,” he wrote in an article for the West Highland Free Press.

“To offer a new £10m school to some children in a small community, but not to others who last month were taught in the same school, is totally unacceptable and insensitive.”

Read More

Read More
Edinburgh high school assured it won't become Gaelic-only

Mr Finlayson, a Gaelic speaker, added: “The very least they should have done was to have made some tangible commitment to give the English-medium children a similar new school.”

“Whilst Gaelic-medium pupils and their parents are rightly excited about 21st century facilities and resources, English-medium pupils are left feeling second class citizens.”

The Scottish Government has pledged £4.75million towards the cost of the project in an encouragement for more families to seek bilingual education for their children.

Councillor Ronald MacDonald told the Press and Journal: “The opening of the school really cements Skye’s importance in being a cultural store for the Gaelic language.

“We do welcome the school and have to use it to promote Skye as a repository for the Gaelic language and its culture.”