Document 1258

Scottish Parliament: Research Briefings: RN 01-110 Gaelic Medium Education

Author(s): Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Copyright holder(s): Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body: © Scottish Parliamentary copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Queen's Printer for Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.


Research Note RN 01/110
27 November 2001


This note outlines briefly the current arrangements for funding Gaelic medium education, the supply of Gaelic medium teachers and current Scottish Executive policy. A member’s debate on Gaelic medium education is scheduled in the name of Maureen Macmillan for Wednesday 28th November.

The motion for the debate is:

S1M-2222# Maureen Macmillan: Gaelic-Medium Education—That the Parliament notes the critical situation facing Gaelic-medium education as a consequence of the current shortage of Gaelic teachers; further notes the continuing shortage of university graduates intending to enter Gaelic-medium teaching, and urges the Scottish Executive to put into place without further delay (a) a review, update and implementation of the recommendations contained in Comunn na Gaidhlig’s proposed national policy for Gaelic Education, Framework for Growth, which was submitted to the Scottish Office in 1997 and (b) the recommendations contained in the report by the General Teaching Council for Scotland Teaching in Gaelic-medium Education – recommendations for change which was submitted to the Scottish Executive in 1999.

Note: The member who lodged this motion has provided the following translation –

Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig – Gu bheil a Phàrlamaid a’ toirt fa-near an suidheachadh èiginneach anns a bheil foghlam tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig air sàilleibh gainne luchd-teagaisg le Gàidhlig; a’ toirt fa-near cuideachd a’ ghainne de cheumnaich bho oilthighean a tha am beachd a dhol a-steach airson teagasg tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig, agus a’ cur ìmpidh air Riaghaltas na h-Alba na leanas a chur an cèill gun dàil (a) sgrùdadh, cunntas as ùr agus buileachadh air na molaidhean a bh’ anns an aithisg aig Comunn na Gàidhlig a thaobh poileasaidh nàiseanta airson Foghlam Gàidhlig, Innleachd airson Adhartais, a chaidh a chur gu Oifis na h-Alba ann an 1997 agus (b) na molaidhean a bh’ anns an aithisg aig Comhairle Teagaisg Choitcheann na h-Alba, Teagasg ann am Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig – molaidhean leasachaidh, a chaidh a chur gu Riaghaltas na h-Alba ann an 1999.

The motion was supported by: Tommy Sheridan, Christine Grahame, Donald Gorrie, Mr Jamie Stone, John Farquhar Munro, Brian Fitzpatrick, Dr Sylvia Jackson, Cathy Peattie, Michael Russell, Rhoda Grant, Alex Neil, Cathy Jamieson, Cathie Craigie, Fiona McLeod.

Comunn na Gàidhlig (CNAG) was set up in 1984, following a report commissioned by the Highlands and Islands Development Board on the way ahead for co-ordinating the promotion and development of Gaelic language and culture. CNAG is a Government-funded agency with a national remit for the development and promotion of the Gaelic language and culture. CNAG has also acted as adviser on Gaelic matters to the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Office.

The recommendations from Comunn na Gaidhlig in Framework for Growth, referred to in the motion are:

It is essential that a mechanism be established as a matter of urgency for co-ordinating the development of Gaelic and Gaelic medium education at national level and to this end the Secretary of State for Scotland is asked to set up a National Committee on Gaelic Education, under the aegis of SOEID, to advise him on all aspects of provision and funding.

Secondly, it is proposed that, in order to give Gaelic education a secure status, Gaelic should be granted, through legislation, the same recognition that is afforded to Welsh in Wales.

The Welsh Language Act 1993, requires that Welsh and English are treated with equality in all public business and administration of justice.


The current policy for Gaelic medium education was outlined in the Cultural Strategy.(1) A key priority of the strategy (priority 2.1) is to:

• Continue to support, where demand is sufficient, Gaelic-medium pre-school and primary education
• Examine the feasibility of a centre for the languages of Scotland covering Gaelic and the varieties of Scots which could incorporate the Scottish National Dictionary

In its first annual report on the Cultural Strategy, the Executive drew attention to the following:

• The Executive has increased provision to education authorities for Gaelic-medium education and has allocated a further £1m for the support of Gaelic in 2001-02

• Following guidance from the Executive, SHEFC has increased by 10 the number of funded places for initial teacher education for Gaelic-medium teaching, taking effect in Autumn 2001. As a result Strathclyde University has increased its intake of Gaelic-speaking students to the PGCE (Primary) course in 2001-02 from 6 to 12

• Historic Scotland's Education Service is working closely with Commun na Gaidhlig to translate certain school packs into Gaelic for Gaelic-medium schools

• Carnegie Centre has provided £30,000 to support for a pilot project for a centre for the languages of Scotland covering Gaelic and varieties of Scots

• The Universities and Scottish Arts Council support work on the Scots language on a continuing basis

• The Executive will continue to develop its programme of support for Gaelic in which Gaelicmedium education is a cornerstone. A group under Donald Meek are looking more widely at the underlying strategy for Gaelic and the recommendations of the Macpherson report which presented the case for a separate Gaelic development agency


The Scottish Executive provides specific grant for up to 75% of the cost of Gaelic-medium education. This increased from £2.6m in 2000/01 to £2.8 million in 2001-02. Plans in The Scottish Budget showed that funding for Gaelic Medium Education will remain at £2.8m until 2004.(2) In addition, the Executive provides £0.3 million a year in specific grant for Gaelic-medium nursery education.

£1m was announced (3) in October 2001 for a number of areas to develop the use of Gaelic. This included

• £300,000 to the Gaelic College on Skye, Sabhal Mor Ostaig,
• £60,000 to Lews Castle College and
• £100,000 to Storlann to address the shortage of Gaelic teaching materials

National Priorities
Gaelic-medium education is available in 60 primary schools. (4) One of the five national priorities introduced under the Standards in Scotland’s Schools Act 2000 includes Gaelic;

(3) to promote equality and help every pupil benefit from education, with particular regard paid to pupils with disabilities and special educational needs, and to Gaelic and other lesser used languages.

In an exercise to establish the future requirement for Gaelic medium teachers, the Executive asked Education Authorities to identify the likely demand.

It is estimated that around 110 Gaelic medium primary teachers are required over the next seven years. The largest demand is in Highland, who require 46 teachers over the period. In secondary schools, it is estimated that around 40 Gaelic medium teachers are needed over the next seven years. Highland and Eilan Siar Councils have also specified that Gaelic medium teachers are required for Geography, History and Maths. Highland Council also indicated Science as requiring Gaelic medium teachers. (5)

Gaelic is a priority subject for teacher training. The Scottish Higher and Further Education Funding Council (SHEFC) announced in March 2001 (6), a further ten funded places for Gaelic medium teacher training at PGCE primary level. The guidance issued stresses the need for teacher training providers to respond to the requirement for Gaelic medium teachers.

The Minister for Gaelic has indicated that he would welcome the recognition of links existing between HEIs and FE colleges in the Highlands and Islands. The Council is aware that the University of Strathclyde has been exploring the development of collaborative Gaelic medium initial teacher education (ITE) provision with colleges in the Highlands and Islands. Therefore, in order to support the delivery of additional Gaelic medium ITE in the geographic areas with greatest need, an additional 10 funded places have been awarded to the University of Strathclyde, at PGCE Primary level, for Gaelic medium provision. The recommended intake for the PGCE Primary course at the University of Strathclyde therefore been increased by 10, as detailed in Table 1 of Annex A.

In addition, the Council wishes to continue to promote the positive approach being taken by institutions in relation to applicants for the Primary PGCE course who are able to teach in the Gaelic medium. The Council looks to institutions to continue to respond to the need for teachers able to teach in the Gaelic medium through their intakes to the BEd Primary, Primary PGCE and Secondary PGCE courses. (7)

Research Notes are compiled for the benefit of Members of Parliament and their personal staff. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Members and their staff but cannot advise members of the general public.

1 Scottish Executive (2000) , Creating our future, minding our past.
2 Table 3.13, Scottish Executive (2001) The Scottish Budget.
3 Scottish Executive News Release, 12th October 2001, Funding for Gaelic Broadcasting and Teaching
4 Scottish Executive (2001) Scottish Budget September 2001
5 para 5.3 Scottish Executive, The Supply of Teachers - June 2001
6 SHEFC Circ HE /00/01 21st March 2001
7 SHEFC Circ HE 15/2001 19th April 2001

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Scottish Parliament: Research Briefings: RN 01-110 Gaelic Medium Education


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