Bòrd na Gàidhlig seeking new board members

Scottish Ministers are seeking to appoint three skilled and committed individuals to the board of the principal public body for the Gaelic language, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) are looking for individuals who share the ambitions of the National Gaelic Language Plan (NGLP) 2018-23 and who will contribute to the organisation’s strategic direction and in setting challenging objectives. Individuals will also help shape the aims for the fourth edition of the NGLP, due for release in 2023.

BnG is particularly looking for people who have previous experience of Change Management; Corporate Governance and understanding of financial oversight; Corporate Communication skills; are Strategic Planners; able to work with others and who are able to create organisational value through constructive challenge.

Cathraiche (Chair) of BnG, Màiri MacInnes said: “New board members are joining at a challenging and exciting time with the opportunity to add to the new NGLP. I would encourage all those with the commitment, expertise and passion in securing the future of the Gaelic language in all communities, whether that be online, cities or rural areas to apply for one of these appointments.”

Bòrd members will be expected to spend on average three days per month on BnG business. The appointment of the board members will be for a four year term with the possibility of re-appointment for a second term. The appointments will take effect on 1 April 2021, and the closing date for applications is midnight on 18 December 2020.

Interviews will take place on 27, 28 and 29 January 2021.

How to apply
An application pack and full details on these posts and other public appointments can be found at the public appointments website www.appointed-for-scotland.org.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig calls on young people to help guide Gaelic into a new era

Gaelic organisations are asking young people across the country to stand up and be heard as Bòrd na Gàidhlig launch opportunities for their voices to be listened to.

BnG will be running online surveys for young people based on their opinions and ideas for Gaelic usage and how to increase this within their communities.

The two surveys, which will be distributed to schools and community groups, are for Primary 5-7, Secondary pupils S1-S6 and for school leavers. The surveys will run until the 15th of November as the Gaelic development body collates opinions critical to the future of the language and how young people can help contribute to this across Scotland.

As part of its #cleachdi initiative, these surveys will also contribute to three online focus groups run by Bòrd na Gàidhlig in partnership with groups such as Comunn na Gàidhlig, Fèisean nan Gàidheal and YoungScot. Those who complete the surveys will have the opportunity to become involved in the focus groups. We hope that this will also encourage schools, community groups and local authorities to run their own Gaelic usage groups and initiatives.

Lucy Hannah, the Young Ambassador for Gaelic 2019-20 , said “The future prosperity of Gaelic rests on young Gaels taking ownership of choosing the way forward for themselves. Bòrd na Gàidhlig have presented a brilliant opportunity for young people to share their ideas and strengthen our language. It is therefore exceptionally important for young people to participate in this initiative.”

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “The aim of the National Gaelic Plan is that Gaelic is used more often, by more people and in a wider range of situations and young people have a vital part to play to ensure that this happens now and in the future.”

“I’d like to encourage as many young people from across Scotland to take part in our online surveys. Young people can be very innovative and we see this as excellent opportunity to make a defining difference to Gaelic and potentially guide support for the language in a new direction. The information from the surveys and focus groups will ensure that we and our partners respond to the needs and wishes of young Gaelic speakers.

“This is a crucial juncture for Gaelic as a whole and it is very important that as we prepare the next National Gaelic Language Plan, we take the right steps to ensure that the use of Gaelic continues for generations to come.”

The links to the surveys can be found here:

Ages 9-11 (Primary 5-7):

Ages 12-19 (Secondary 1-6 and school leavers):

Surveys close at 5pm on Sunday, 15 November.

Secondary school Gaelic immersion study reports positive effects of bilingualism on language and cognition

A ground-breaking study into how Gaelic is perceived by secondary school pupils and how it develops their linguistic and cognitive skills found significant benefits of speaking the language alongside a global language such as English.

The immersion study, funded by Bord na Gàidhlig, was led by Dr Maria Garraffa and a team from Heriot-Watt University, together with Prof Bernadette O’Rourke from University of Glasgow and Prof Antonella Sorace from the University of Edinburgh.

They worked together with senior pupils from The Glasgow Gaelic School, the largest provider of Gaelic medium education in Scotland, to find out how our younger generation of Gaelic speakers view and use the language.
It examined for the first time particularly whether older teenagers, after 15 years of education in Gaelic, continued to speak Gaelic or what might lead them to stop.

The research revealed that speaking Gaelic does not affect the ability to speak well in English – and that being bilingual provides more opportunities for those fluent in both.

Dr. Maria Garraffa, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University, explains: “We had clearly proven that the positive effects of bilingualism are not contingent upon the fact that a speaker is using a small heritage language like Gaelic or a global language like French or Spanish. Speaking does not affect competence in English, offers the same cognitive benefits of bilingual speakers and it is a resource for more opportunities”.

“Being competent in more than one language has been associated with success in global business. Yet studies conducted by researchers in Wales have shown that pupils in immersion programmes often regard their heritage language as a subject choice they can drop when they leave school. We’ll be working with pupils who will soon be leaving school for employment and we don’t want them to lose their Gaelic language skills.

“Children in Gaelic medium education are changing how people perceive the Gaelic language and they need to be supported to further demonstrate its applicability in a business context. Speaking Gaelic is not a local skill but could have global applications and benefits.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I welcome this research by Heriot Watt University which shows the benefits of bilingualism for those children in Gaelic education. I hope that this will reassure the growing number of parents who have placed their young people in Gaelic medium education and encourage others to take that step.”
These results are vital for the next steps of the revitalisation policies aiming to save Gaelic. Not only do they show that being bilingual in a minority language does not harm either language abilities in the community language, and actually boost the development of cognitive skills, but that young adult speakers and especially new speakers view Gaelic in a favourable light and do not carry on the negative connotations held by the older generation.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Director of Education, Jim Whannel, said: “The Education Team at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, warmly welcomes this interesting research, which provides further concrete evidence of the advantages young people experience in becoming functional bilingual adults, as a consequence of Gaelic Medium Education. This will support further reflection, in the context of the OECD Review of the Secondary Curriculum, on how Scotland can extend further the opportunities Gaelic Medium Education delivers for young people, right across the country.”
This calls for the need to multiply and diversify the contexts in which Gaelic is spoken, to encourage its use in the social sphere and make it a language of choice.

The project’s results have been recently presented in the large context of the European Cost Action “The Newspeakers network” (http://www.nspk.org.uk) on policies and practices to support minority languages.

The paper will be available to view on Tuesday 20 October:

Iomairtean Gàidhlig officers support children and parents through lockdown

Praise has been received for the innovative work undertaken by Comunn na Gàidhlig’s (CnaG) Iomairtean development officers during lockdown, to keep young people tuned in to Gaelic.

With funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and support from four Local Authorities, there are now 15 ‘Iomairtean’ development officers working in different communities all over Scotland. The majority of these officers deliver their work through a close partnership with schools in their respective communities – with the schools closed new skills and approaches needed to be developed to support kids with their continued use of Gaelic.

The work done over the months during lockdown – which was undertaken as part of the #cleachdiaigantaigh campaign has now been praised by both teachers and parents.

Marina Murray, CnaG Development Director said “We are very pleased that people in the communities in which we work, have responded so well, and so positively to the opportunities and activities we have been providing over the past few months, given the challenges we had to overcome.”

“In the first place none of our officers have ever been recruited for their knowledge and abilities with social media or technology – instead we strongly prioritise their inter-personal abilities, and they positive relationships they can build with young people. For some of our officers, it meant familiarising themselves with online platforms to continue those relationships – and they undertook this with a lot of commitment. Secondly, we had to avoid delivering these sessions during the school day, to avoid competing with school lessons. This resulted in our officers working later in the afternoon and evening, trying to encourage young people to come back online to take part in activities.”

“Despite these challenges, the team proved how creative they could be, coming up with new ideas for activities – too many to list. They included quizzes and writing competitions, videos, games and many other activities whose whole focus was on engaging and enthusing young Gaelic speakers.”

Some of the activities they provided included:
• After school clubs with games and opportunities to converse in Gaelic
• Live videos showing various arts and crafts/Bingo/Vocabulary
• T-shirt competition, open to children all over Scotland, allowing them to       get creative, making a Gaelic slogan t-shirt.
• Quizzes at local and national level
• Conversational opportunities
• Online Yoga videos
• Online Cèilidhs
• Writing competitions, encouraging young people to write stories relating       to Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 in Scotland.
• FilmG and online drama opportunities
• Outdoor sports with distancing, once guidelines allowed.

During this campaign, there has been strong feedback welcoming and praising the opportunities provided:

“We really do appreciate it…when she comes off, she’s keen to carry on talking in Gaelic.”

“It’s giving her a real boost having these sessions.”

“She had a beaming smile after the lesson. It’s been a great help for us.”

“Thank you so much for what you have done…was really quite low and anxious about Gaelic work and then you came along and put a spring in her step again.”

“…is loving getting to still be involved in drama after missing it over the Summer. Can’t wait to see what they come up with. Please keep in touch about any more drama workshops that might be taking place once there is a little more normality back in place.”

“It’s been hard getting her involved in Gaelic activities as we don’t have Gaelic at home, so we really appreciated this.”

“They really enjoyed the videos you made…many thanks!”

“Great fun!”

“Thanks for all you’re doing, especially over the last few months.”

“All the sessions you have organised have been instrumental in keeping some Gaelic going for them in a very easy, relaxed manner which they really look forward to – much appreciated!”

“Thanks for some great fun, on a very wet day!”

Daibhidh Boag, Director of Language Development at Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank the officers who were involved in the #cleachdiaigantaigh initiative, and thank them for swiftly providing such a great online service. We witnessed many organisations work together, and in partnership with schools to help encourage the use of Gaelic in the home. Where it wasn’t possible for young people to come together in their own communities, in the way in which we are familiar, it was made possible for them to be together in online communities from all over Scotland. We have learnt very much from the challenges of this time, skills and knowledge which will be very useful in the years to come.”

Marina Murray added, “Similar to other organisations, we are delivering our work as best we can, while the virus is still interrupting our usual methods of delivery. It’s not getting any easier – where we would now be organising after school clubs or sports sessions, the Covid 19 restrictions mean these options are still not available to us. Despite this, with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and respective local authorities, we will continue to do our best in encouraging use of Gaelic among young people.”


COVID-19 Support Fund

Over 50 community groups and organisations benefit from vital COVID-19 funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Over 50 organisations and community groups promoting Gaelic projects throughout lockdown have been awarded funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s COVID-19 Support Fund.

The fund was opened earlier in the Summer in response to the global pandemic, with a total of £100,000 initially available to qualifying applicants. Due to unprecedented demand, the Board agreed to provide a further £90,000.

Funding was made available to help these organisations continue and expand their work online; to share resources and training; and to ensure they are best placed to recover from the current situation.

Stòrlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba, which receives annual funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, has been awarded an additional £32,300 to fund an array of educational resources for use in blended learning or learning at home.

Among the other groups which have received funding are the Horshader Development Group, in the Western Isles, to employ a Project Officer for their Healthy at Home initiative. The project aims to enhance the wellbeing of residents in the community by creating social and learning opportunities through the medium of Gaelic, and to also develop the language.

Robhanis Theatre Company, based on the Isle of Lewis, will be recording a series of Gaelic plays to be made available as free podcasts while Tional, the new Virtual Gaelic Music Festival run by Hands Up for Trad has also successfully applied for Bòrd na Gàidhlig funding.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will use its funding to create a new platform to provide the public with important safety information through Gaelic. This will be developed online as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

And STÙR/DUST will present a digital community project, fusing scenes from Greek masterpiece Antigone performed in Gaelic, with traditional music, new poetry compositions, vox pops, newspaper headlines and archival footage. A powerful examination of the lives that we are living under the pandemic, the project aims to provide a means of bringing communities together, of talking, singing, remembering and finding a way of going forward.

The University of Glasgow, Mount Cameron Primary School in East Kilbride, and Fèis Phàislig, an arts organisation that promotes interest, education and participation in traditional music and Gaelic culture across Renfrewshire, are also among the successful applicants for this vital funding.

Mairi MacInnes, Bòrd na Gàidhlig chair, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for all organisations, and we are delighted with the response to our COVID funding scheme.

“It fills us with enormous pride to witness the benefits of our funding for Gaelic speakers and communities throughout the country during these difficult times. A range of projects are now under way
and we firmly believe that these will be invaluable to everybody who has the opportunity to get involved with them.
“Bòrd na Gàidhlig continues to drive the development of the Gaelic medium, and this form of funding will continue to play a major role in what we set out to achieve.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig runs funding schemes at different times through the year. However, if you have a proposal for a project at any time during the year when there is no suitable funding scheme open for applications, contact them directly by email at tabhartas@gaidhlig.scot, or by phone on 01463 225 454.

Funding Recipients Based
Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd (Highland Council) Highlands
Comhairle Aonghais (Angus Council) Angus
Co-Roinn Ghàidhlig Mhuile agus Idhe Mull and Iona
Urras Ceann a Tuath na Hearadh North Harris
Bun-sgoil Beinn Chamshròin (Mount Cameron Primary) East Kilbride
Artsplay Highland Highlands
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Nationwide
Urras Coimhearsnachd Bhràdhagair agus Àrnoil Bragar and Arnol
Hands Up for Trad Nationwide
Taigh Dhonnchaidh Isle of Lewis
Playwrights’ Studio Scotland / Fuaigh Glasgow
Dannsairean Màiri Barra
Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba Skye
Comhairle nan Leabhraichean Glasgow
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Stornoway
Oilthigh Ghlaschu (University of Glasgow) Glasgow
Bùrach Gaelic Choir Morvern
Fèis Phàislig Renfrewshire
An Comunn Gàidhealach Inverness
Horshader Development Group Isle of Lewis
Àrd-sgoil Phort Rìgh Portree
Comunn Gàidhealach Muile Mull
Glaschu Beò Glasgow
Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle Argyll & Bute
Faclair na Gàidhlig & Tobar an Dualchais Nationwide
Comhairle Mhoireibh (Moray Council) Moray
Urras an Taighe Mhòir agus Comunn Eachdraidh Loch Ròg an Ear Outer Hebrides
Robhanis SCIO Isle of Lewis
Theatre Gu Leòr / Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu Glasgow
Comunn na Gàidhlig / Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu Glasgow

A letter from the Ceannard to Bauer Media (Scotland)

Graham Bryce
Bauer Media


I write to you from the public body responsible for the promotion of Gaelic language and culture in Scotland. Under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, passed by the Scottish Parliament, Gaelic is an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to English.

We were very disappointed to hear a member of your staff deliver a comedy newspiece on your radio station, Clyde 1, around 1745 on 11.08.2020.

The mocking and belittling of Gaelic language and culture and the islands was done in poor taste, and is unacceptable in a progressive and modern-day Scotland. Such behaviour towards a minority group is not acceptable. Whilst the broadcaster may have thought this to be harmless, there is now, in Scotland, a positive disposition toward the language and so this is not only in bad taste toward speakers but to Gaelic language supporters far and wide.

Social attitudes have come a long way in recent years with an increasing recognition of the positive impacts of diversity in a modern society and we would urge that Clyde 1 offer a public apology for this broadcast and confirm that this type of content will not be broadcast in the future.
Finally, Bòrd na Gàidhlig would be willing to meet with Clyde 1 management to discuss how to engage with the language and community in a more positive way.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Deagh dhùrachd

Shona C MacLennan

Cc Glenn Preston, Director, Ofcom Scotland

Statement – 04.08.2020

A spokesperson for Bòrd na Gàidhlig board, said:

“Our continued development of and investment in Gaelic is constantly delivering positive results. This year alone Bòrd na Gàidhlig is working with 68 public authorities on Gaelic language plans, and since April has established a new fund to support organisations impacted on by the COVID-19 situation, and to date, has provided £1million to more than 60 organisations to help them deliver Gaelic services and projects across the whole of Scotland. In addition, we are providing regular input to government consultations on the impact of COVID-19 on all policy areas that are important to Gaelic.

“Our initiative with partners to deliver support to young people using Gaelic at home, has delivered thousands of activity sessions online during lockdown and will continue to create more opportunities in the coming months, and we have agreed with our main partners alternative ways to deliver the activities that we fund. The number of children learning through Gaelic medium education has risen in the past 12 months by 10%, and the number of Gaelic teachers has increased by 5% this year, which represent an increase of 33% in the past 10 years.”

Aithris na Maidne – 14.07.2020

Mary MacInnes, Chair, Bòrd na Gàidhlig – Aithris na Maidne

Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Mary MacInnes, did an extended interview on Aithris na Maidne, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, this morning focusing on the debate following the publication of the book on Gaelic in the vernacular community. The main points of the interview were:

The Bòrd has not yet discussed the findings of the book formally. However, debate on how to take forward Gaelic is always welcome. There are concerns about the impact of the messages from the book being magnified in these challenging times, and the debate has been hard on all those involved in Gaelic development.
It is now becoming clear that the book is based on research gathered three years ago and that most of the policy referred to is based on the second National Gaelic Language Plan (2012-17).

The focus of the current National Plan is on using Gaelic, whereas the second plan concentrated primarily on learning Gaelic and education.

Increasing the use of Gaelic is achieved in many different ways – through Gaelic language plans, through the work of the Gaelic organisations, through community groups, Gaelic officers, in social media. But we need to do much more.

The current National Plan recognises that other issues impact on Gaelic – such as the economy, availability of housing, affordable and effective transport and digital connectivity – and Gaelic should be considered when developing all of these policies.

This Plan recognises that there are different communities of Gaelic speakers – island and rural areas; those in towns and cities; and an online community; and that different strategies are required to support these.
The island communities are changing; there are many in the islands who are not Gaelic speakers and we all need to develop different responses to meet the challenges and complexity of language development.
About £1 million of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s funding is spent in the Western Isles annually, which supports employment, projects, activities and services.

The Bòrd has not discussed the recommendation that there should be a community trust for Gaelic. Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which is a public body, has board members who are very experienced in community development. The islands have a very strong Third Sector with effective structures and there are opportunities to strengthen Gaelic within this and to increase communications between them.

In conclusion, more people in the islands need to use Gaelic more often, Bòrd na Gàidhlig needs to do more, the Government needs to do more, the Gaelic organisations need to do more and the local authorities, particularly Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Council need to do more.

You can listen to the interview in Gaelic here.

Statement – 02.07.2020

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig said:

Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes any research which contributes to our understanding of Gaelic in Scotland today. We have not had an opportunity to read the book, but we have had helpful discussions with the research team ahead of publication.

Our understanding is that one of the key messages from the research is that for the older generation of Gaelic speakers in the islands, Gaelic was and remains the default language of the community. For most younger people, the default language is now English. This finding will come as no surprise to anyone who lives in the islands or anywhere else and is a pattern that you will find in minoritised language communities across the globe.

Education policy in the Western Isles recognises the challenges for an indigenous minority language and now all children enter Gaelic medium education unless they choose to opt out. It has also been the success of Gaelic medium education that has led to the growth in numbers of speakers outwith the Western Isles, with, for example, the Glasgow Gaelic school is regularly one of the top performing schools in Scotland.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig and our partners in the public sector are listening and willing to discuss with island communities what else they want to happen, in addition to the many positive things which are already in place, to encourage greater use of Gaelic in the islands and elsewhere.

The primary aim of the current National Gaelic Language Plan is that Gaelic is used more often, by more people and in a wider range of situations. The Plan was prepared based on wide consultation with many communities and organisations, and the findings of the book would appear to confirm that this remains a reasonable and necessary aim.

Statement – 22.06.2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has worked with partners across the Gaelic community, public authorities and Scottish Government to ensure that Gaelic continues to be used by as many people as possible at home at this difficult and unprecedented time.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig acted quickly and flexibly to ensure that our funding to organisations continued, resulting in new and creative ways of thinking and delivery during lockdown. We are fully satisfied that the work these organisations are delivering in local and national initiatives is effective in supporting pupils in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) under these difficult circumstances.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has also recently launched a new COVID-19 funding scheme with the aim of helping organisations recover and for the development of new resources and services to support the use of Gaelic whilst restrictions are in place.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig have pushed for Scottish Government to provide advice on GME and encouraged other Gaelic organisations to add to that campaign. This has resulted in an Advice Note being prepared and is scheduled to be published imminently. It will inform the work of the local authorities (LAs) who are responsible for the delivery of education.

The Bòrd Education Team has worked directly with Education Scotland who are assessing currently Local Authority School Return planning, and is engaged in developing the Initial Impact Assessment process which will support Local Authorities in successfully re-opening the school system.

All parties acknowledge that the GME on-line support for young people has been impressive in terms of the quality and range of materials and the speed of the response. Many of the bodies responsible for this are funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Bòrd have been active in supporting this response and ensuring that excellent support is in place for teachers, parents and young people in GME.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the organisations we fund stand ready to support local authorities as they formalise their plans for blended learning and we are already engaged in these discussions at a local and national level.
At the same time, the Bòrd na Gàidhlig team has continued, in these unprecedented circumstances, to undertake our statutory duties as outlined in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.