A Modern and Sustainable Ferry Service for Scotland – Response by Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has submitted a response to the Scottish Parliament consultation on a A Modern and Sustainable Ferry Service for Scotland.

Points raised in the response include the following:

“We recognise that a holistic approach is required for sustainable island communities and thus for sustaining the Gaelic language.”

“The importance of a modern and sustainable ferry service for Scottish islands is of utmost importance in sustaining the island communities of Gaelic speakers, and in sustaining the language and culture.”

The full response can be read here.

Initial Findings from Nationwide Consultation Ahead of Updating the Gaelic Language Plan

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has unveiled the initial findings from a nationwide consultation which will help shape the latest stage of the National Gaelic Language Plan.

The consultation focused on the ambitions, direction, and themes for Gaelic, with Bòrd na Gàidhlig seeking input and feedback on the draft plan which sets out the next five years for the language.

Over 250 responses were received following an extensive programme of community meetings, both in-person and online, across Scotland.

The majority (65%) of organisations and individuals who responded agreed with the direction of the draft plan, which has a particular focus on increasing the use of Gaelic and its learning.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig also received positive feedback on increasing the number of initiatives to raise confidence when using Gaelic, as well the importance of Gaelic education in revitalising the language for both fluent speakers and learners.

Feedback reinforced that Gaelic education should happen in context of other developments, including the establishment of Gaelic Hubs, a greater online presence, as well as a greater media profile – including an extended service from BBC Alba. GME should also be developed and promoted by local authorities, while links with communities must be strengthened.

The consultation also indicated the need for an increased emphasis on the wider context of Gaelic development – including societal issues affecting communities in island and rural areas, and those in towns and cities.

Other responses support the Bord’s continued focus on increased usage of Gaelic in island, rural and urban communities. As it stands, around one quarter of Bòrd na Gàidhlig development funding currently enables the creation or maintenance of around 60 Gaelic officers – 46 in island and rural communities and 14 in urban areas.

Elsewhere, feedback on the structure of the plan highlighted the need for an increased focus on targets, and the requirement for information on progress to be placed earlier in the document.

 

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said:

“It was very apparent during all the public meetings and the majority of the responses that there is real enthusiasm for the language and a developing understanding around how important the National Plan is in securing the future of Gaelic for everyone in Scotland and beyond.

“We look forward to using the findings to inform our final draft ahead of submitting to Scottish Ministers and would like to thank everybody who took the time to take part in the consultation process.”

 

The National Gaelic Language Plan will now be revised in light of the consultation and will be submitted to Scottish Ministers for their approval with the aim of publication in April 2023.

Pre-Budget Scrutiny Call for Views

The Finance and Public Administration Committee of the Scottish Parliament is seeking public views on the impact of cost of living and public service reform. Bòrd na Gàidhlig has submitted a response containing the following points:

“There are:

A range of Scottish Government strategies and policies that recognise the importance of, and the need to support, the Gaelic language.
Increasing demand for learning Gaelic and interest in the Gaelic language and culture.
More evidence of the importance of the Gaelic language to the Scottish economy.
Therefore, there is no case for reducing funding for the Gaelic language. Instead, there is a case for more funding to reflect the growing demand and potential for the Gaelic language and culture.”

The full response can be read here.

Schools (Residential Outdoor Education) (Scotland) Bill Consultation

Between April and July 2022 Liz Smith MSP, held a consultation on Schools (Residential Outdoor Education) (Scotland) Bill. Bòrd na Gàidhlig submitted a response which included the points:

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is of the view that national provision of outdoor education impacts positively on wider equality issues.

Ensuring that Gaelic is included in national education strategies is crucial if Scotland is to ensure that respect for pluralism and cultural diversity is both nurtured and encouraged. Scotland has a particular responsibility to support and develop the Gaelic language and culture as part of Scotland’s contribution to a multi-cultural world.

Outdoor Education has the potential to enrich educational experiences relating to the language and therefore strengthen strategies to deliver greater equality within Scottish Education and beyond (the first Canadian GME service, for example, opened in 2021).

You can read the full response here.

Budget scrutiny 2023-24: Funding for culture

The Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament is seeking views on budgetary spending on culture.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has submitted a response that has included the points:

“Increasing support for Gaelic arts and culture should be a priority. That will allow its continued growth, increasing its social and economic impacts.”

“Increased support will help to ensure that everybody in Scotland has access to Gaelic arts. That will reflect Gaelic’s place as a national language. This can be achieved by normalising Gaelic within the work of national level organisations such as Creative Scotland. That, in turn, will enhance Scotland’s image as a diverse country.”

You can read the full response here.

Impact on Gaelic is now a part of Island Community Impact Assessments for the first time

Bord na Gàidhlig has welcomed new guidance from the Scottish Government that will see public authorities assess the impact on the Gaelic language within Island Community Impact Assessments (ICIA) for the first time.

Bord na Gàidhlig has welcomed new guidance from the Scottish Government that will see public authorities assess the impact on the Gaelic language within Island Community Impact Assessments (ICIA) for the first time.

The revised guidance will require public bodies to place an increased focus on how their decision making affects the Gaelic language.

The new guidance supports the National Islands Plan, and applies to all policy, including housing, economy, health and social care, education, culture, and community development.

Under the changes, if an ICIA indicates that any policy, strategy or service will have an impact on Gaelic, then the public authority must identify what steps are being taken to mitigate or improve the effect on the language.

All decisions must now be made in line with the National Islands Plan, published in 2021 to outline the Scottish Government’s commitments to improve outcomes for island communities.

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “This change in guidance from the Scottish Government is a welcome development for Gaelic among Scotland’s island communities. It places a greater emphasis upon sustaining and growing our language’s use in the these communities, ensuring that public bodies, communities and individuals work in partnership to build upon the continuing growth of Gaelic throughout Scotland.

“This marks a major milestone in strengthening policies for Gaelic among the decision makers and will increase the focus on the opportunities and challenges for growing Gaelic. That can mean only good things for Gaelic and the implementation of the National Islands Plan and the National Gaelic Language Plan. This will also enhance the National Gaelic Language Plan’s ethos that strategies address the needs of island and rural communities.”

New Survey Looking at Young People’s Engagement with Gaelic Online

At the beginning of the year, Young Scot ran an online survey to learn more about the online spaces where young people aged 11-26 see and engage with Gaelic and about the Gaelic types of Gaelic content they’d like to see more of. The survey ran between December 2021 and April 2022, just as it did last year, which gave Young Scot the opportunity to compare the responses between the two and track any differences between them.

1,153 young people responded to the survey this year, an increase of 437 on the previous year. Of the young people who answered the survey, 61.1% said they cannot speak, read or write Gaelic, 32.8% said they are currently learning Gaelic, and 6% described themselves as being fluent Gaelic speakers. While the young people answered different questions depending on the level of fluency they described themselves as having, all respondents were asked the same two final questions;

  • How valuable is Scottish Gaelic?
  • How valuable is Scottish Gaelic culture and heritage?

When asked these questions, over two thirds (69.7%) of young people said that Gaelic is valuable or very valuable and nearly three quarters (72.2%) said that Gaelic culture and heritage is valuable or very valuable. Now, that’s some positive news!

Almost three quarters (74%) also said that they would like to see more Gaelic content online and on social media and Instagram (74.1%), TikTok (70.5%) and YouTube (64.6%) are the platforms they use most.

The survey report was published at the beginning of June and you can read that on Young Scot’s corporate website to learn more about the reasons young people gave for wanting to learn Gaelic, the types of online content they like and their feelings towards the Gaelic language.

Read the report here.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Welcomes New Director of Development

Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Director of Development.

Iain MacMillan has been working with BnG on a 6-month interim post as Director of Development to provide additional support. After a successful recruitment process, Iain will now take up the role on a permanent basis.

Born and raised in South Uist, Iain now lives in Stornoway. He has a wealth of experience in the public sector having spent the last 40 years in various roles and has held senior positions for the last 30 years. Iain was Principal and CEO of Lews Castle College (UHI) for over 8 years until August 2020. From April 2017 to November 2019, he also undertook a part-time role as Vice Principal (Strategic Harmonisation and Operational Efficiencies) for UHI.

From 2004, he had held the post of Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the College. Prior to that, he had held various positions within Local Authorities and Police Services in both Finance and Corporate roles.  

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard Bhòrd na Gàidhlig said:

We are delighted that Iain will be taking on the role of Director of Development on a permanent basis. He brings vast knowledge and understanding of development which will be invaluable in the coming months, and indeed years, while we continue to work on developing the next National Plan. He has a sound understanding of the requirements and opportunities in development and in communities and we know his skills will be of great benefit.”    

 

 

Gaelic Medium Education in Renfrewshire

Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) welcome the news that Gaelic Medium Education (GME) will be offered to primary aged pupils in Renfrewshire from August 2022.

Gaelic Medium Education will be based within West Primary School in Renfrewshire where, initially, pupils in classes 1-3 will be offered GME.  There will be one composite class for primary 1-3 from the beginning of the new school year in August.  As demand grows, so too will the schools classes and resources.

West Primary School was selected as the base for the unit due to its central location in the Local Authority Area, thus allowing access to all pupils in the area who are keen to pursue GME.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig in partnership with the Local Authority, and Comann nam Pàrant Nàiseanta has delivered a promotion of Gaelic Medium Education initiative across the Renfrew area with online information events, local radio station interviews and advertising and information through social media. We are extremely pleased that the promotion initiative has led to the setting up of this new Gaelic Medium service.

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig said:

“It is hugely encouraging for us to see that Renfrewshire have come to this decision.  As one of our aims in the National Gaelic Language Plan to increase the opportunities for Gaelic Medium Education for pupils throughout the county, we welcome yet another Local Authority to the increasing list of those delivering GME provision. ”

Shirley-Anne Somervillle, Cabinet Secretary for Education said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving access to Gaelic Medium Education and I recognise the work that Renfrewshire Council has undertaken in delivering this new provision for their young people.

“I wish the young people who will be starting their Gaelic language journey all the best.”

 

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey

Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes findings of new Scottish Social Attitudes survey as support for Gaelic increases hugely in a decade.

 

The full report and supporting documents can be found here.

 

The number of Scots who can speak some Gaelic has doubled in the past decade, the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey has found.

The proportion of people who say they can speak at least the odd word of Gaelic has doubled from 15% in 2012 to 30% today.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the principal body in Scotland responsible for promoting Gaelic development, has hailed the survey as a major success for the language, with findings showing significant support and awareness throughout the country.

The Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey is conducted by the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen) and has been tracking changes in people’s social, political and moral attitudes in Scotland since 1999.

The 2021 survey found that more than half of those surveyed would like to see the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland rise in the future, with 56% giving their backing.

Young people, those with a greater knowledge of Gaelic, and those who have experienced greater exposure to the language are credited as the key factors associated with its growth. The survey shows that those who come in to contact with Gaelic are more likely to hold positive views.

The SSA also highlights a major shift of attitude towards education. More than half of those surveyed, 55%, believe that all children in Scotland between five and 15-years-old, should be taught Gaelic as a school subject for between one and two hours a week. This is a marked rise from just 38% support in 2012.

It is clear that Gaelic also contributes to wellbeing with 70% of adults stating that learning Gaelic gives someone a sense of achievement.

Mairi MacInnes, Chair at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes this latest report from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey. These results are excellent news and show the widespread support for Gaelic, which bodes well for its future. The rise in the usage of Gaelic is vital to preserving and growing the language for years to come, and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide support and solutions to help continue this growth.

“We are delighted by the rise in those with some knowledge of the language – to double that figure in a decade is a remarkable achievement. Support for the growth of Gaelic education in our schools will only support the rise in popularity for future generations and we believe it will be a vital part of our strategy to build on this success.”

Cabinet Secretary for Education Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The rise in people speaking some Gaelic and support for its continued increase shows this Government’s commitment to promote and develop the language is having a meaningful impact.

“We  want to ensure that those who wish to use, or learn Gaelic are afforded the opportunity to do so and we will continue to work with partners in this aim.”