Deputy First Minister John Swinney to attend new Strategic Leadership Forum to discuss growth and development of Gaelic Education

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, MSP, along with 50 directors of education and other senior education leaders from across Scotland and representatives from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Education Scotland are taking part in a brand new forum aimed at helping Gaelic grow and flourish.

Mr Swinney is attending the first ever Strategic Leadership Forum for Gaelic Education at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel today along with the Directors of Education from 19 local authorities involved in delivering Gaelic Medium Education (GME).

The forum aims to help councils develop a clear plan of action to drive forward the teaching of Gaelic through greater collaboration, better understanding of duties and access to funding that helps boost Gaelic education.

The ultimate objective is to give all those involved a clear route to deliver the Gaelic National Plan and the Faster Rate of Progress initiative.

The forum was born out of an initiative led by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Its Education Team led the way by establishing a working group made up of representatives of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Government and Education Scotland.

The working group reflected on the current needs of GME and the best and clearest way forward, and decided to launch the forum as a way of providing wider support for directors and senior officials.

The Deputy First Minister said: “The Scottish Government’s aim is to see an increase in the number of people speaking, learning, and using Gaelic and today’s Strategic Leadership Forum will make an important contribution to this aim.

“We see Gaelic as vital to the future of Scotland as a nation and to our cultural identity. We want to make sure those who wish to learn and speak the language are supported and given every opportunity to do just that.

“It is vital that local authorities who work hard to promote and support Gaelic and provide the chance for young people to learn Gaelic are given assistance and are able to work in partnership as they continue to develop the language.”

Jim Whannel, Bòrd na Gàidhlig Director of Education, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig is committed to supporting partners to deliver for Gaelic. We want the communities who speak Gaelic to continue to grow and thrive.

“This new Strategic Leadership Forum will help all those local authorities also committed to that aim of charting a clear path forward that takes us all towards the goal of more people, both young and old, committing to learning and using the language.”

New Director of Gaelic Education at Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is delighted to announce the appointment of Jim Whannel as Director of Gaelic Education who takes up his appointment on 04 September 2019 on a part-time basis. Jim will lead the education team at Bòrd na Gàidhlig and work with them to lead the education policies of the Bòrd. Bòrd na Gàidhlig provides advice to the Scottish Government on Gaelic Education, works with education authorities and other bodies involved in the delivery of education in order to achieve the Bòrd’s objectives, and Jim will oversee the work of the Bòrd in the implementation of Statutory Guidance in the various agencies.

Jim has been involved in Gaelic education for many years, most recently as an Education Tutor at University of Edinburgh on the MA Gaelic Primary Education course. Prior to that, he was an Advisor with Glasgow City Council, with Gaelic Medium Education as part of his role. He was involved in many projects such as Glasgow Gaelic School and the expansion of the primary school and the opening of the secondary school; the development of plans through the Scottish Futures Trust for a second primary school, Glendale Primary School; and developing the first programme in the Authority and working with other officers on GLPS training courses. He was also a board member of Bòrd na Gàidhlig for three years, where he chaired the Learning Committee.

Mary MacInnes, Interim Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said, ‘We are sorry to lose Jim on the board but we are extremely fortunate that someone with such extensive experience is going to strengthen the education team at the Bòrd. In particular, this will support local authorities and other bodies in realising the benefits of GME in their areas and in meeting the objectives set out in the National Gaelic Language Plan.”