Gaelic education and learning are at the heart of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s aims and aspirations. From Gaelic playgroups to post-graduate studies, this wide-ranging sector is the foundation of our efforts to preserve and revitalise the Gaelic language. With this in mind, education, learning and the development of language skills are key priorities in the National Gaelic Language Plan. We work in partnership with various individuals and organisations to improve and grow Gaelic education and learning at all levels – for both young people and adults, and for fluent speakers and learners.
Gaelic Medium Education
Gaelic Medium Education (GME) provides learning opportunities which can take you from Early Years to undergraduate and post graduate studies. Starting in the home, and including playgroups, parent and child groups, nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities and communities, the National Gaelic Language Plan 2018-23 aims to expand and improve Gaelic education and learning at all levels.
Several Local Authorities in Scotland offer GME at different levels for children and young people aged 0-18. In the school year 2015-16 there were 1,003 children in Scotland who attended a Gaelic nursery, 3,004 pupils were enrolled in GME primary education and 1,193 secondary school pupils were studying Gàidhlig for fluent speakers and/or other subjects in high school through the medium of Gaelic.
2017-18 saw an increase in these numbers. 1,078 children in Scotland attended a Gaelic nursery, 3,278 pupils were enrolled in GME primary education and 1,251 secondary school pupils were studying Gàidhlig for fluent speakers and/or other subjects in high school through the medium of Gaelic.
Another objective is an expansion in the availability of Gaelic-medium subjects in secondary schools. This and other aims in the Plan will add to and enhance an educational system which is designed to immerse pupils in Gaelic to the greatest degree possible throughout their learning. A system which adheres to Curriculum for Excellence, and which conforms to all the standards and requirements of the curriculum. A system in which children receive all the benefits associated with bilingualism and bilingual education.
Further and Higher Education offers a number of courses for people with Gaelic. Some courses are taught entirely through the medium of Gaelic, while others have some subjects taught in Gaelic and/or Gaelic-related subjects. There are also a number of work experience and training opportunities available through various organisations and companies for Gaelic speakers. A significant number of colleges and universities in Scotland at present offer courses in Gaelic or where Gaelic is part of the course’s study programme.
There have never been so many ways to learn Gaelic. At primary school level there is a scheme, Gaelic Learners in Primary School (Go!Gaelic) which is designed to enhance the Scottish Government’s own 1+2 Language Learning in Scotland. This allows young people in English Medium Education the opportunity to learn some of the Gaelic language and about Gaelic culture and heritage.
Gaelic also features in the Scottish Studies award offered in many schools.
At secondary level, pupils can take Gaelic (Learners) as a subject from National 3 right up to Advanced Higher. In the school year 2015-16 there were 2,838 pupils studying Gaelic (Learners) in Scotland’s secondary schools. In 2017-18 there were 3,033.
When it comes to opportunities for adults to learn Gaelic in post-school education, there is a range of choices available which should offer everyone a means to learn which is suitable to them. There are numerous higher education institutes and organisations which offer adults the chance to learn Gaelic through various means, from full-time and part-time courses to distance learning. You will also find that there are often courses, conversation classes and other ways to learn Gaelic or enhance your language skills in your own community.
A range of online resources to help with Gaelic learning during the coronavirus lockdown is available here.
Each year the pool of resources used in Gaelic education and learning grows. Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig is the principal organisation tasked with providing and creating learning resources and materials for Gaelic Medium Education in schools. Bòrd na Gàidhlig also supports other organisations such as the Gaelic Books Council and publishers such as Acair Ltd to produce a wide range of written materials and other resources in Gaelic or for Gaelic, and many of these are used in Gaelic education and learning. The internet is now a vital element of Gaelic education and learning, and there are a number of websites which can help with education and learning.