Last Updated: Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Fèisean nan Gàidheal

What is this?

Fèisean nan Gàidheal organised a range of activities to strengthen the use of Gaelic among young people while at home during lockdown.

Who is this for?

For all with an interest in Scottish education. 

What we did: 

Under the banner #cleachdi aig an taigh, we organised a range of activities to strengthen the use of Gaelic among young people while at home during lockdown. These included:

  • Early years song and games; Gaelic Medium activities
  • Gaelic drama workshops
  • Gaelic language lessons for learners and children in Gaelic medium education (GME)
  • Beairteas gnàthasan-cainnt sessions to enrich young people’s vocabulary
  • A weekly online café with guests to inspire teenagers to use their Gaelic
  • Gaelic singing sessions for all ages
  • A programme of Gaelic medium musical instrument lessons
  • Presentations on Gaelic culture
  • ‘Caraidean Còmhraidh’ sessions with small groups ensuring young people used Gaelic

Our Oide online teaching resource was offered free and we released Ceòl nam Fèis as an e-book.

Elements of the Gaelic Drama Summer School and Fèis Alba proceeded online, with performances at the end of each. Fuaran continued and we added songs weekly to our ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ Gaelic song archive. To the end of June our online videos had been viewed by 19,000 plus and 4,000 plus people had taken part in activities.

During the summer holidays, we collaborated with local Fèisean to ensure there was one online Fèis each week.

Who we involved:

Funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Creative Scotland and HIE, organised and run by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in collaboration with local Fèisean, offered to all schools where Gaelic is taught as L2 and all Gaelic medium schools and departments. A number of freelance tutors were employed.

The difference it made:

From the understanding that schools could be impacted indefinitely came the realisation that children in GME settings could be disproportionately disadvantaged if they didn’t live in a Gaelic-speaking home. By offering a wide-range of Gaelic-based activities the main benefit from the programme was the ability it offered participants to continue using Gaelic while not attending school. Continuity is essential in language transmission, where the language of education may be a second or third language for most pupils.

In addition to that important element, the work we carried out strengthened the delivery of the curriculum, particularly in relation to the Gaelic language and expressive arts, at a time when pupils were at home.

Another benefit was the employment the programme provided for freelance tutors at a time when many of them had regular work cancelled.

As an organisation, we learned a lot about online delivery, what works well and what is more challenging. This will influence our delivery in future.

What we will do differently in the future:

There is no doubt the Covid-19 crisis resulted in all organisations having to rethink how they deliver their programmes of work. While the circumstances which forced this were certainly not ideal, it did little harm to examine how we could better use online platforms to deliver work.

While we contend that face-to-face teaching is best in transmitting language and music tuition, and that will always be the case, as a stop-gap measure online delivery has been well received and worked well on the whole. Some tutors felt that young people had fewer distractions online, than might be the case in a group environment, and that their progress in music learning was not adversely affected by the online nature of tuition.