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.”

Community pilot is well underway

Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) and Community Land Scotland are delighted to announce that a new officer has been appointed to begin work on increasing community engagement for strengthening Gaelic in the Western Isles and the islands of Highland and Argyll & Bute Council areas.

 

This follows on from the announcement made in March 2021 that there would be a new partnership to provide funding and community-based decision making for Gaelic development by community landowners, heritage and other trusts.

The successful candidate, Chrissie Gillies from Raasay, will work with Community Land Scotland to both strengthen Gaelic in their own work and membership, and support applicants to develop and deliver Gaelic development projects.

Chrissie Gillies, New Officer

Commenting on the appointment Agnes Rennie of Community Land Scotland said “Chrissie’s appointment and the launch of the pilot will be a significant step in enabling and supporting properly constituted groups, based within the selected areas, to take forward new projects strengthening the place of Gaelic language and culture in the community.”

New officer Chrissie Gillies added, “This is an exciting opportunity to work with communities to develop strong community led projects. I am certain we will have some excellent applications in the coming months.”

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard of Bòrd na Gàidhlig said, “This new approach builds on the strength of the wide range of community trusts already established in the islands who deliver a wide range of economic and social benefits.  It will lead to increased opportunities to use and learn Gaelic in many aspects of island life and is shaped around the recognition in the National Gaelic Language Plan that island communities require different strategies which respond to their specific needs and aspirations.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said, “This is a very welcome initiative which builds on, and adds to, the wide range of projects already in place to support Gaelic in Highland and Island areas.

“I commend Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Community Land Scotland for bringing this forward and congratulate Chrissie Gillies on her appointment, I wish her every success with this valuable work.”

The next stage of the project will see a funding scheme launched in the coming months.  Key dates for the scheme will be published on the Community Land Scotland website soon.

This will provide funding at three levels – up to £5,000, up to £15,000 and up to £30,000, with total funding of £125,000 altogether.  The scheme will be open to community trusts, not just land-based, in the Western Isles and the islands of Highland and Argyll & Bute Council areas.   Each trust will be required to create a simple plan which shows how their work will increase the use, learning and promotion of Gaelic in their areas.

Decisions on funding will be made by a panel of representatives drawn from different areas and sectors.  In this way, the scheme will ensure community-based decision-making.

For more information on the funding scheme, please keep an eye on: https://www.communitylandscotland.org.uk/.

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/

Consultation on the future of Gaelic development

Bòrd na Gàidhlig launches consultation on the future of Gaelic development

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is inviting communities to join them in building the next National Gaelic Language Plan as it launches a series of public meetings.

The public body will hold five National Plan sessions throughout June, with the primary aim of gathering further feedback as to how the next National Plan can most effectively support Gaelic development throughout Scotland.

This consultation builds on the questionnaire Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) distributed in December 2020 about initial thoughts on the next National Plan, and presents the findings of a range of conversations with communities over the last year.  The next National Plan is due for publication in 2023.

In line with the objectives in the current National Gaelic Language Plan, BnG is looking to ensure that the impact of support for opportunities to use, learn and promote the language is maximised.

Each meeting is focused on a different community to enable more focused discussion. All meetings will follow the same format.

The separate sessions will be held for Gaelic speakers living in the islands and rural areas, for those living in towns and cities, those who engage with the language online, and for young people. There will also be one session held in English.  In addition, there will be the option to submit opinions via email as part of the process.

Each meeting will be introduced by BnG’s Cathraiche, Mary MacInnes, before a presentation from Director of Language Planning and Community Developments, Daibhidh Boag.

The presentation will focus on the key points from a range of consultations and discussions held over the past year, including: Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s questionnaire on the National Plan, Young People Survey, and its Strategic Funding Consultation, as well and community conversations on Gaelic usage in the islands, facilitated by Allasdair Allan and other MSPs, plus a series of conversations led by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP.

Mary MacInnes, Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Cathriache, said: “Safeguarding the future of Gaelic is vital to sustaining a massive part of Scotland’s heritage and increasing its presence in Scotland. Bòrd na Gàidhlig works constantly to place the language at the top of the agenda to ensure that it is provided with a strong and sustainable platform to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

“It is essential that more people recognise the importance of the language within communities the length and breadth of the country. These sessions are designed to give members of the public the opportunity to provide feedback and ideas, so that their views can be incorporated into shaping the next National Gaelic Language plan.”

The meetings will take place on: June 7 – island and rural communities; June 9 – young people (4.30-6pm); June 10 – those living in towns and cities; June 14 – online community;  June 17 – English language session. All meetings take place between 7-8pm, unless otherwise specified.

Each session is limited to 35 attendees.  More sessions will be provided if demand is sufficient. The presentation will also be available on the Bòrd na Gàidhlig website, while those unable to attend can submit their views to: fios@gaidhlig.scot.

To sign up for the event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/plana-naiseanta-gaidhlig-coinneamhan-poblach-registration-156515306495.

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/