The Bòrd is keen to hear from those involved in the development, implementation and monitoring of Gaelic Language Plans and is of the view that valuable insight can be gained through collecting direct testimonials as to what it’s like to write and implement a Gaelic Language Plan. We will provide such testimonials on this site setting out the a unique and individual experiences of Public Authorities, including the challenges, discoveries and successes that have already been made and met – as well as those that are still in progress.
North Lanarkshire Council – December 2012
Name: Robert Dalzell
Position: Quality Improvement Officer
Organisation: North Lanarkshire Council
North Lanarkshire is located in central Scotland and is the fourth largest of the 32 all-purpose councils. It has a population of over 320,000 and a land area of 470 sq km. It borders East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian. It is Scotland’s fourth most populated local authority.
Cumbernauld is its largest town with over 50,000 inhabitants. The other larger towns are Airdrie, Coatbridge, Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill.
Over a quarter of the population live in towns and villages of fewer than 10,000 people, for example Shotts and Kilsyth. We are centrally located on the main national railway and motoring networks, 13 miles from Glasgow and 36 miles from Edinburgh.
Stage on Gaelic Planning: Plan approved June 2012
Tell us why Gaelic is important to your organisation.
North Lanarkshire Council recognises that Gaelic is an integral part of Scotland’s heritage and national identity. Indeed, very early in the life of the Council it took a decision to establish Gaelic medium education provision in our schools and this commitment to Gaelic has been maintained and extended in subsequent years.
What did you hope to achieve through the development of your Gaelic Language Plan?
We wish to support the revitalisation of the language and we will collaborate closely with the Bòrd and our community planning partners to achieve this aspiration. In particular, we will promote Gaelic in the corporate functioning of the council and also promote the acquisition and use of Gaelic, particularly through our learning and leisure services.
What approach did you take to develop your Plan?
The plan has been prepared within the framework of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 taking account of the Bòrd na Gàidhlig National Plan, the Ginealach Ur strategy and the Bòrd’s guidance on Gaelic plans. It takes account of the council’s normal improvement planning procedures.
How did the rest of the organisation get involved in the process?
Officers from all of the services across the Council were represented on the Gaelic Plan development group. The draft plan was shared with all services before being finalized.
What actions have you taken to achieve your goals for promoting Gaelic?
North Lanarkshire is committed to promoting the number of Gaelic speakers with particular emphasis on the role of both schools and informal education opportunities.
North Lanarkshire provides Gaelic medium primary education at Condorrat Primary School, Cumbernauld. Secondary provision is offered at the associated secondary, Greenfaulds High School. The primary provision has expanded in successive years, reflecting strong council support, the availability of grant support and high parental demand. There is now a full class intake each year. In session 2010-11 the roll was 136 pupils. It is a high performing school and a wide range of musical, sporting and cultural activities are available for the Gaelic medium pupils. Greenfaulds High School is at an earlier stage in its development with a current roll of about 50 pupils taking Gaelic courses. 6 subjects are offered through Gaelic medium. The Gaelic Language in Primary School (GLPS) scheme operates in a number of schools and staff training places are offered each year.
The council will raise awareness of Gaelic culture and will promote increased participation in the Gaelic arts by:
- Supporting and Funding Gaelic based Community Groups through the NLC Cultural Grants and NLC Community Grants
- Contributing to the development of a national strategy for Gaelic culture which is to be led by Bòrd na Gàidhlig as a ‘Partnership Project’
- Supporting the development of festivals such as the August Fèis, cultural weekends and other Gaelic-related cultural events e.g. Family Exchange with Northern Ireland.
- Supporting organisations which provide these activities e.g. Fòram, Fèis, Cearcall
- Promoting awareness of Gaelic literature through the Library service and increase the availability of Gaelic Books and related materials.
- Promoting inter-agency projects aimed at developing Gaelic arts and culture through the CLD Review Group e.g. Play in a day drama project, Best Practice Event, Youth Arts Festival.
What challenges did you face, and what did you do to overcome them?
Our main challenge was ensuring that the Gaelic Plan met the Bòrd’s requirements. All of the services in North Lanarkshire Council were keen to support in whatever capacity they could the implementation of the plan.
What has been the impact of the process on your organisation and the services you provide?
We have developed a wider culture of cross-service working and we continue to deliver our Gaelic provision as described above in question 5.
What are your future ambitions for Gaelic in your organisation / area?
We will implement the Gaelic Plan as set out. Subject to appropriate funding, we may open a second Gaelic unit in the Motherwell / Wishaw area.
What advice would you give to someone starting their first Gaelic Language Plan?
Work closely with other services within your organization and agree a realistic plan based on your current circumstances.