Friday, December 16, 2005

Morar loses Gaelic Unit to Mallaig

Residents of a Lochaber village fear that their school could be in line for closure after it loses its Gaelic medium unit.

Councillors at Highland Council’s Lochaber area Committee this week voted to transfer the Gaelic unit at Lady Lovat Primary School to Mallaig, three mile away, because it has outgrown the Morar School.

There were claims that the community could be divided over the issue after a prolonged debate throughout this year.

Mallaig and Morar councillor Charles King said: I think it has been a long, hard nine months. There will be parents who will be dissatisfied, but there was a general acceptance that the Gaelic unit had to be kept intact. ‘There are presently 37 Gaelic medium pupils at Lady Lovat which has a school roll of 50.

The 13 English medium students will continue in Morar but there are fears for its future if the roll falls below 11, as it is expected to do in four years.

Councillor Michael Foxley, who was involved in establishing the Gaelic unit in Morar in 1993, said:’ it’s very sad. It has been a success and it is a tribute to the head teacher, Maureen Sutherland. I fully understand the move to Mallaig but I have for Morar in the future.’

Councillor Olwyn MacDonald said: ‘I think it is very sad, it is down to a shortage of money but it is the only way forward that we can go.’

Parent Anne MacNaughton said: ‘some parents have children in the Gaelic unit as well as the English. But the Gaelic unit doesn’t want to split. It’s a hard decision.’

A spokesman for Comann nam Parant, a group of Gaelic Medium parents in Morar, said ‘although we are glad they have taken the option not to split the unit, we feel that Gaelic medium is being treated as less important than English medium education. We were assured that the decision would not be taken on cost, but they have taken the cheapest option.

In three years’ time the school roll in Morar will go down to six pupils. Once they have taken the children out of Lady Lovat they have a free hand to close the school.

A final decision on the transfer of the unit will be taken at a meeting of Highland Council in January 2006.

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,’

Friday, December 02, 2005

Gaelic TV gets cash fuse

Gaelic digital television may have moved a step closer this week after the Scottish Executive is believed to have rubber stamped £11.5 million funding to get the service up and running.

Progress towards a Celtic switch-on has been painfully slow with the BBC showing little interest in operating a new channel with estimated £17m running costs, when it currently spends around £2.1m on Gaelic TV.

The latest financial carrot, an increase of £3m on previous disclosed figures, should rejuvenate discussions.

Whether demand for a dedicated Gaelic television channel warrants this level of investment is another matter.


Gaelic Education Week in Oban

Saturday marked the start of Gaelic Education Week in Oban on Saturday to raise awareness of Gaelic Medium Education throughout Argyll.

There was Gaelic song, poetry, traditional music and dancing presented by young Oban performers at the tourist information office in Argyll Square. Throughout the week, various have been arranged culminating in an information day on Saturday December 3rd at McTavish’s Kitchens from 1pm to 5pm. This is to be a fun afternoon for all the family, including children’s entertainment, interactive activities and a book fair.

Information on Gaelic education opportunities from preschool through to secondary school will be provided, with support groups such as Sradagan, the nationwide Gaelic youth club network, Gaelic development agencies and Argyll and Bute Council.

Eoghan MacPherson, of the Oban branch of Comann Nam Parent, the parent body promoting and supporting the establishment and maintenance of education through the medium of Gaelic, said: Throughout this week we hope to inform people that Gaelic Medium Education is available to everyone and to raise awareness of it’s benefits, especially when we live in a part of Scotland greatly influenced by Gaelic heritage and culture.’


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Gàidhlig Language New

Welcome to my Blog, bringing you all the latest news regarding the Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Language in Scotland.
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