Secondary Education

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Gaelic Education in Scotland at Secondary level is delivered in two main forms:

  • Gaelic Medium Education
  • Gaelic Learner Education

These are both are delivered over Broad General Education (S1-S3) and into the Senior Phase (S3-S6). Both types of Gaelic provision are equally important for the development and health of the language, although both look very different and are delivered in distinct ways.


Gaelic Medium Education

Gaelic Medium Education is available in two areas:

  • Gàidhlig as a subject
  • Other subjects through the medium of Gaelic


Gàidhlig as a subject

Gàidhlig is a literacy subject with equal status to English. In the Curriculum for Excellence, it comes under the title “Gàidhlig and Literacy”, equal in importance to “English and Literacy”, but with some Experiences and Outcomes which deal with Gàidhlig’s specific needs.

In regularly timetabled classes, pupils work on their literacy skills – reading, writing, listening and talking – through a wide range of interesting and active learning opportunities.

When pupils complete the Broad General Education at the end of S3, they should have the opportunity to maintain their Literacy skills as they move forward to qualifications in Gàidhlig and through other learning opportunities.

Gàidhlig is available as an SQA qualification at every National level 1-5, Higher and Advanced Higher. Within this is the Literacy in Gàidhlig qualification which every Gaelic medium pupil has an entitlement to receive. There is also the opportunity to develop Gàidhlig Literacy skills through other subjects.

There are opportunities to continue this learning through third-level education in Scotland.


Other subjects through the medium of Gaelic

Throughout Scotland, schools offer different subjects through the medium of Gaelic in the Broad General Education. These include mathematics and numeracy, geography, history, modern studies, science, home economics, PE and many other subjects. This depends very much on staff supply, but Bòrd na Gàidhlig works closely with partners to develop this.

Gaelic medium subjects can be studied as SQA qualifications at every National level: 1-5, Higher and Advanced Higher. These include Matamataig (Mathematics), Gnìomhachas Matamataig (Applications of Mathematics), Nuadh-eòlas (Modern Studies), Eachdraidh (History) and Cruinn-eòlas (Geography). For the latest updates on the suite of subjects the SQA offers in Gaelic, please look at their website.

There should be the opportunity for pupils to study non-certificate subjects such as core PE, Personal & Social Education and core Religious and Moral Education through the medium of Gaelic in the senior phase.

Resources for all of the above are available from Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.


Gaelic outside and after school

Bòrd na Gàidhlig works closely with groups to ensure Gaelic pupils have opportunities for using Gaelic outside of school. There is a wide range of opportunities in sport, music and other hobbies through the medium of Gaelic, adding to the experiences of the pupils in the language in different situations.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig also works in partnership with other groups to ensure that secondary pupils are aware of the opportunities for using Gaelic in the world of work. This is not just important for Gaelic related posts, but also for any job throughout the world. More information can be found at Skills Development Scotland.


Gaelic Learner Education

Gaelic Learner Education sits alongside the teaching of other modern languages in Scotland. Gaelic is learned as a second language in the same way as French and other languages are taught.

In the Broad General Education (S1-S3), there is the opportunity to offer Gaelic (Learners) as an L2 or L3 (under the auspices of the Scottish Government’s 1+2 Language Policy) and pupils have an entitlement to continuity with the languages they did in primary school.

Moving in into the Senior Phase (AS4-AS6), Gaelic (Learners) is available as an SQA at levels National 3-5, Higher and Advanced Higher. The Gaelic (Learners) qualifications have the same structure as other languages, such as French, Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin. There are also a range of units and other qualifications that can assess language skills in Gaelic that are suitable for secondary level students at SCQF Level 3-7.

For schools and authorities where Gaelic (Learners) cannot be offered by a teacher in the school itself, there are opportunities for learners to study Gaelic (Learners) at certificate level through online courses, through distance learning and via tertiary level colleges. It is expected that schools will advertise these opportunities and encourage pupils who want to study Gaelic to take these opportunities.

There is the opportunity to continue the learning of Gaelic into Tertiary Higher Education in Scotland.


Support and Guidance for Secondary Senior Management Teams

Gaelic immersion at secondary level should continue for every pupil who has come through Gaelic Medium Education in the primary school. Management teams in every school which deals with Gaelic should be aware of the Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Education.

Planning for the growth of Gaelic Education, in particular Gaelic Medium Education should be integral to the standard development planning of Secondary schools. It is important that schools promote positive environments for Gaelic education in their schools through conversations with staff and learners.

Our partners provide support and guidance as well, in the Advice on Gaelic Education and the report on Inspection Findings from Education Scotland.

If you are a Secondary Headteacher or a member of a senior management at Secondary level with responsibility for Gaelic, you may contact us at Bòrd na Gàidhlig at any time.


Teach in Gaelic at Secondary Level

Great teachers are at the heart of the revitalisation and development of Gaelic, and it is a priority for Bòrd na Gàidhlig and its partners to service this.  You can find more information about teaching here.