Gaelic Medium Education in Nova Scotia

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is delighted to welcome the opening of the new Gaelic-medium Primary School in Mabou, Nova Scotia. This is the first Gaelic-medium school in North America and the first outside of Scotland.

The Gaelic-medium Primary school, called Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide, has been developed as a non-profit making community project with support from across the community and has recently appointed a full-time teacher. The school will deliver an immersion programme for primary children with a focus on developing Gaelic-language skills.

The new Gaelic-medium Primary school will further renew the already vibrant Gaelic cultural environment that flourishes in Nova Scotia and in the Cape Breton area in particular.

Kenneth MacKenzie, Board Chair, Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide said: “This is a major milestone for Gaelic cultural revitalization in Nova Scotia and the support from our friends in Scotland has been critical in making it come to fruition. We look forward to deepening those ties in the years to come.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has been working with partners to coordinate a support package for the school. We would like to thank the following organisations that are currently actively planning support for the new school:

Stòrlann Nàiseanta
Foghlam Alba / Education Scotland
Fèisean nan Gàidheal
e-Sgoil
Urras Leabhraichean na h-Alba/ Scottish Book Trust
Comann nam Pàrant Nàiseanta
Giglets

We look forward to building ever-stronger links with the team in Nova Scotia both at an organisational level but also through linking children and families whose lives are being enriched by the Gaelic language and its culture in both countries. Gaelic is now rightly taking its place more prominently on the international stage and being viewed as a valuable asset to both Scotland and Nova Scotia.

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We are delighted to see this development in Nova Scotia and wish Sgoil na Drochaide every success. International links are important to the Gaelic community, particularly those between Scotland and Canada which have existed for centuries. The main aim of the National Gaelic Language Plan is that more people use Gaelic more often and in a wider range of situations, and the new school certainly does that.”

The Scottish Government very much welcomes the opening this week of Sgoil na Drochaide and looks forward to continuing to strengthen linguistic and cultural links between Scotland and Nova Scotia.

Cabinet Secretary for Scotland’s Languages Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We know there are many strong cultural and family links between Scotland and Nova Scotia and the opening of this first Gaelic school will help strengthen and solidify these ties.

“I thank Bòrd na Gàidhlig and all Gaelic bodies involved for the support they have provided and look forward to hearing about the progress and growth of this school in the near future.”

Early Years Education Development

A new pilot scheme, to help develop early years education, has been created by Comann nam Pàrant (CnamP) and Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG), in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Three new positions will be created at Comann nam Pàrant, with funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to assist early years groups – 1 Manager and 2 Development Officers.

This pilot scheme will last a year to begin with, with plans to extend the project if it proves to be an effective way to promote Gaelic in early years education.

The officers will assist and work with local authorities and independent groups in different areas.

Comann nam Pàrant, who are a part of CnaG, will be leading this project as they have extensive knowledge in this field. They have been supporting parents with early years education in GME for many years. Alongside BnG they have also been closely involved in another initiative to secure and distribute funds to early years groups.

Comann nam Pàrant and Comunn na Gàidhlig hope to build on the services already provided by:

  • Establishing an early years assistance team to encourage new parents into Gaelic Medium Education (GME)
  • Creating a stronger relationship between Gaelic and the home; where children return home from an early years session and still hear and use Gaelic – to some level
  • Developing Gaelic language skills at a young age
  • Strengthening established and newly formed groups
  • Creating more learning opportunities for children
  • Developing early years work and groups
  • Assisting in the growth of GME
  • Expanding the number and skills of Gaelic speakers

During the lockdown, families were able to attend Parent and Toddler sessions online.

After discussions with parents during that period, CnamP and BnG officers discovered that even though parents and groups welcomed the new online opportunities, like the Gìog Ort project in partnership with Stòrlann, most wanted the opportunity to meet face to face. Parents have noticed that the lockdown has affected their children’s fluency and early years groups have said that not being able to meet with families to speak Gaelic in a fun setting was one of their biggest challenges – given that as this is one of the best ways to develop language skills.

Magaidh Wentworth, National Director of CnamP, said: “The years 0-3 are very important in terms of GME growth, but also in terms of Gaelic being used in homes and communities. This project will encourage new parents to enrol their children in GME, while also helping those children with their Gaelic language skills as early as possible. It is extremely important that they get the best start so that they can develop strong Gaelic language skills.”

“It is also important to create a strong relationship between Gaelic and the home. It is important that Gaelic is used at home after children return from an early years session. This project will help with that too.”

Donald MacNeill, Chief Executive of CnaG, said: “The sooner young children hear and engage with Gaelic, the deeper their linguistic roots will be, and the stronger their affinity with the language. We are delighted that Bòrd na Gàidhlig approved our application, and we are excited to be creating a new development team for early years education.”

Jim Whannel, Education Director at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “With everything opening up again, Bòrd na Gàidhlig wants to make sure that effective and impactful help is offered to early years groups and parents. It is because of this reason that we decided that this project with Comann nam Pàrant is the best option to develop early years work after the pandemic.

“The Early Years team at Bòrd na Gàidhlig have been working diligently since the team was created more than 10 years ago and the new pilot project, being provided by Comann nam Pàrant and Comunn na Gàidhlig, will build on the successes the team has delivered. In addition there will be a Development Officer at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, within the Education Team, with a remit for national strategic work in the Early Years GME sector.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig will still be running the Early Years Education Grants 21/22 and those groups will still receive information and help from Bòrd na Gàidhlig through this.

The Early Years Education Grants are now open and this scheme will offer help, information and funding to independent early years groups who want to run sessions from August 2021 to June 2022. This scheme will be assessed as usual by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Comann nam Pàrant.

The Early Years Education Grants 2021/22 are open until 3pm on Tuesday 13th July 2021 and you will find more information here:

https://www.gaidhlig.scot/en/funding/funding-schemes/early-years-grants/

Award Winning Reading Resource for GME Schools goes from Strength to Strength

Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Giglets Education are delighted to announce the continuation and expansion of the award-winning Giglets Gàidhlig reading resource project.

The partnership provides free access to schools with Gaelic Medium Education (GME) to the literacy resource, where pupils and teachers can access a continuously growing online library in Gaelic. Moreover, all Higher Education Institutions with Gaelic Initial Teacher Education (ITE) have free access to the teaching resource as well. The growing resource already contains over 110 Gaelic texts with many hundreds of accompanying Gaelic resources. Texts are enhanced with audio, theme music, animations and illustration to engage and support readers.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has approved funding until 2024 for this unique digital Gaelic education project. Giglets Gàidhlig is an innovative and ground-breaking Gaelic literacy project providing Gaelic texts together with supporting teacher and pupil resources, voice-overs, music, animations and illustrations in a modern, digital and cloud-based way. Hundreds of teachers and thousands of pupils at GME primary and secondary schools are using the resource.

This new project phase from 2021-2024 builds on the successes of the previous years (2017-2021), including technical enhancements such as the pupil interface being made available in Gaelic. New significant developments will focus on additional teacher and pupil support, text and resource development, and writing resources to support those teaching and learning in the GME sector.

Giglets Gàidhlig at Condorrat Primary School 2019
Pic Peter Devlin

Jim Whannel, Director of Education at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said:

“The Giglets Gàidhlig resource base provides a wealth of materials that children and young people can use to continue to develop their literacy skills in Gaelic. It is easy to use, comprehensive and designed specifically to meet our immersion needs in Gaelic Medium Education. I would highly recommend this resource base to all our eager Gaelic Medium learners and their families – it’s fun too, with great texts and animations and useful backup material to support learning across Early Years, Primary and Secondary GME.

“I’d also like to commend the Giglets team for all their excellent work in continually expanding the resource base and their current focus on supplying our Gaelic-medium learners with high-quality materials.”

Dr Karsten Karcher, Chairman and Founder of Giglets, said:

“Since the start of the project, over 32,000 Gaelic texts have been assigned by GME teachers to pupils within the resource. The Giglets Gàidhlig resource has arguably become an essential resource to schools not only in classrooms but also for home and blended learning, not least during Covid-19 school lockdowns, when most other school resources are not available to pupils.”

A list of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s 20-21 General Grants can be found here.

Giglets Education – https://giglets.com/

Information Session – Director of Education

Tuesday 27 April, 19.30-20.00, Microsoft Teams

Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes professionals with an interest in the Director of Education post to an information session with the Director of Education (present), Education Manager and Ceannard (CEO).

This is an informal opportunity to find out more about the job and the responsibilities of the education team

The session will be streamed live on Teams with the option to post questions in the chat box function.

Register through Eventbrite to take part: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/seisean-fiosrachaidh-stiuiriche-foghlaim-registration-151184897097

Should you have any questions regarding the session, please send an email to corporra@gaidhlig.scot.

As this is a Gaelic essential post, the event will be in Gaelic.

 

You can find a full Job Description and Application Form for the post here.

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.”