Gaelic education at secondary level falls into three categories. Pupils can take:
- Gàidhlig as for fluent speakers
- Gaelic (Learners)
- other subjects through the medium of Gaelic.
The immersion learning will continue for fluent speakers through Gàidhlig as a subject and other subjects taught through the medium of Gaelic, and pupils who are not fluent can start on the path to fluency by choosing Gaelic (Learners).
Gàidhlig for fluent speakers is available as a subject in secondary school at the following levels: Access 2 and Access 3, Standard Grade, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher. Pupils will develop their skills across the four key areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The courses in time will add breadth and depth to the pupils’ language skills. When the opportunity arises, links will be made with employers and businesses where Gaelic is used so that pupils will have the opportunity to use Gaelic in practical situations.
Gaelic (Learners) is available in secondary education at the following levels: National 3 to National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher. Pupils will learn Gaelic oral, listening and literacy skills and these courses will give learners a foundation in the language upon which they can build. Pupils can continue up the various levels and in doing so gain more complex language skills and a deeper understanding of Gaelic.
In the school year 2012-13 a total of 13 subjects (including Gàidhlig for fluent speakers) were being taught through the medium of Gaelic in Scottish secondary schools at various levels. In 2017-18, that number has risen to 15. At present pupils can take National 3-5 exams in Geography, History, Maths and Modern Studies through the medium of Gaelic, and can take Higher Maths in Gaelic. The number of subjects available to pupils will depend on which school they attend. Pupils learn each subject in the same way they would in English, they follow the same curriculum, the only difference being that the teaching is done through the medium of Gaelic.
As part of this learning, pupils will attain subject specific vocabulary in Gaelic. The more subjects pupils take through the medium of Gaelic in secondary school, the greater their immersion in the language. Bòrd na Gàidhlig aims in the National Gaelic Language Plan to increase the availability of Gaelic medium subjects in secondary schools.
As can be seen, there are Gaelic learning opportunities in secondary education that can meet the needs of everyone, from fluent speakers to beginners. At the moment (2017-18), there are 31 schools in Scotland which offer Gàidhlig for fluent speakers and/or other Gaelic medium subjects, and there are 31 schools which offer Gaelic (Learners). In addition to Gaelic itself, the following subjects are taught at various levels in Scottish secondary schools through the medium of Gaelic – English, French, Geography, History, Home Economics, Mathematics, Modern Studies, PE, Personal and Social Education, Religious Education, Science and Technology.
Every pupil in S4 in Scotland has the chance to spend a week on work experience with a company or organisation. This will allow them to experience different jobs and working environments. As part of this scheme, pupils who are studying Gaelic in secondary schools can request a work experience where they will be able to use Gaelic. There are a number of companies and organisations where Gaelic is the language of the workplace, and when pupils leave school they may find work where they can use their Gaelic.