Friday, December 09, 2005

Lochaber Leads Gaelic Expansion

Lochaber College will play a major part in the expansion of Gaelic medium teaching, a Scottish executive report has revealed.

A report by the Gaelic Medium Teachers Action Group on behalf of the Scottish Executive has been published outlining ways of making Gaelic Medium teaching a more attractive career.

Education Minister Peter Peacock has accepted the proposals of the group which include a Gaelic teacher recruitment officer and ending course fees for part time teacher training students and expanding these courses.

The group believes the distance learning course run by Strathclyde University should be accessible from centres around the highlands including Lochaber College.

Dr Michael Foxley, vice governor of Highland Council, welcomed the proposals outlined in the report and believes they will help increase the number of Gaelic Medium teachers in the region.

‘At the moment it is only Strathclyde and Aberdeen that run the courses. ‘The second thing is the recruitment drive being proposed which is long overdue. ‘There is little or no promotion of teaching opportunities relating to Gaelic.’

Dr Foxley, whose children attend Fort William Primary School Gaelic Medium Unit, also expressed his delight at the proposals to reorganise the career structure in Gaelic Teaching.

He did, however, have concerns with one aspect of the structure not addressed in the report.

Dr Foxley said ‘I would like to see more incentives to go into Gaelic Medium teaching like housing and salary increase.

On the whole, Mr Foxley believes Lochaber should benefit from the proposals. He said ‘The area will benefit from being able to provide training through Lochaber College and it will start to address the need for more Gaelic Medium teachers, especially secondary school teachers’

Dr Foxley added: ‘that is why we could employ at half a dozen Gaelic Medium teachers in Lochaber tomorrow but there are none available.

‘If children learn two languages at an early age it is easier for them to learn a third or fourth language.’

Education Peter Peacock said: ‘Gaelic Medium Education is one of the great successes in Scottish education.

‘At a time when school rolls are falling, the number of pupils enrolling in Gaelic classes is on the up but we need to go further if we are to ensure Gaelic thrives in the future,’

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