Gaelic teachers who have received assistance from the Education Grants funding stream have been singing its praises, as the scheme opens up for new entrants again this year.
The initiative is funded and administered by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national Gaelic development agency, in recognition of the need to provide additional assistance to meet the growing demand among parents and pupils for Gaelic medium education across the country.
Applications are now welcomed from those undertaking a post-graduate degree in education, primary or secondary, and those studying undergraduate Gaelic education degrees.
Grant assistance of £500 / £1,000 is available, plus assistance for course fees if required, up to another £1,820.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig may also consider applications from qualified teachers who wish to transfer over to GME and those who wish to undertake a course to switch careers to Gaelic education. The level of assistance will depend on the personal circumstances.
Last year assistance was provided to 33 individuals and it is hoped the take-up will be equally high, if not higher, this year.
Shona MacLennan, Chief Executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “Gaelic education is a success story and that success drives the need for more teachers. The Bòrd has run this scheme for a number of years to support those who want to be teachers. Joanne McHale, our development officer (Teachers) works with students, colleges and the universities to attract more to teaching and she’s very happy to talk to anyone interested in teaching.”
Those who have received assistance have hailed the benefits of the scheme. Among those who received assistance last year was Alison Ni Dhorchaidhe from Dublin. She now teaches in the Gaelic Secondary School in Glasgow.
“I always wanted to do teaching but I was enjoying the work I was doing with Comunn na Gàidhlig (youth officer) so much,” she said. “But the desire eventually came back and it was just something I wanted to do. English and Irish were my subjects at university and I did some Scottish Gaelic, but not enough to teach.
“The Glasgow Gaelic School were looking for an English teacher, so I enrolled in a course and applied to Bòrd na Gàidhlig for funding and they were very helpful. I got the money and to tell you the truth I don’t think I would have got through the year without it. I know others who had to make do with a student loan and it was a struggle for them. So, the help I got from Bòrd na Gàidhlig was enormously helpful as it meant I didn’t have to overly worry about financial matters.”
Lauren Stewart (24) found herself in a similar situation. She had been working full-time in the Fort William pre-school unit, before the BnG grant scheme offered the opportunity to enter teaching training. She is now preparing to start life as a primary teacher in Glasgow after the holidays.
“I really wanted to do a PDGE course and I approached the head of the school for some advice,” she said. “He told me I should really speak to Bòrd na Gàidhlig; that they might have some assistance I’d be able to get. I spoke to Joanne McHale from Bòrd na Gàidhlig who has an office in the same building. She told me that as I had been in employment for some time that I’d be entitled to a lot of assistance and that was incredibly helpful.”
As Lauren had been working full-time she got a total of £5,000 in assistance.
“I had been working for seven years so just to stop work and go on a course was going to be really difficult,” she said.
“You’re so busy with the course it’s difficult financially. I didn’t work for the full year and without that assistance from Bòrd na Gàidhlig I don’t know how I would have managed.”
For more information contact Joanne McHale firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the scheme can be found at http://www.gaidhlig.scot/bord/fundraising/