Gaelic Medium Education (Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig)
Gaelic Medium Education is an option within Scottish education that gives children and young people an opportunity to become fluent in Gaelic. As children and young people move from stage to stage, they will continue to develop their fluency. In so doing, they also fulfil all the aims and goals of Curriculum for Excellence and accrue all the benefits of bilingualism.
Where is Gaelic Medium Education available?
Gaelic Medium Education is available in 14 out of 32 Scottish local authorities to all children and young people. Some local authorities use neighbouring local authority provision to meet the requests of parents.
Gaelic Medium Education is available in about 60 primary schools and their associated secondaries in Scotland, including dedicated Gaelic Medium schools. An increasing number of early learning and childcare centres, secondary schools and further education centres also provide learning through the medium of Gaelic.
The Bòrd na Gàidhlig website has maps showing where Gaelic Medium Education is available in Scotland.
If I do not speak Gaelic, can I still choose Gaelic Medium Education for my child?
Gaelic Medium Education is available to all. Many children learning in Gaelic Medium Education do not come from homes where Gaelic is spoken. Some children acquire fluency in Gaelic in the home and continue to develop their fluency by choosing Gaelic Medium Education.
How and when is Gaelic Medium Education delivered?
Gaelic Medium Education begins in 3-5 provision or, in some cases in P1, and continues through primary and secondary school. In Gaelic Medium Education, there is an initial focus on learning Gaelic, until children become fluent enough in the language to enable its use across all subjects and aspects of learning. The entire curriculum is taught through the medium of Gaelic.
Children and young people will also have opportunities to use and develop their language skills in a range of situations outside the school, and to have their learning and achievements recognised with awards and qualifications at the secondary stages.
Gaelic Medium Education can be delivered in free-standing provision known as Gaelic schools or Gaelic Medium schools. In other cases, Gaelic Medium provision is delivered alongside English medium provision under the leadership of the same headteacher.
Why should I send my child to a Gaelic Medium school?
There are many sound educational benefits to learning Gaelic. Gaelic Medium Education is recognised for successful and high-quality achievement in which young people gain all the benefits of bilingualism.
The research 'Gaelic-medium Education in Scotland: choice and attainment at the primary and early secondary school stages', by Edinburgh University, provides evidence that there are very high levels of attainment in Gaelic Medium Education. This high level of attainment is a key attraction for parents in choosing Gaelic Medium Education.
The report showed that young people in Gaelic Medium Education perform equally well as their peers who are learning through the medium of English. It also showed that young people learning through the medium of Gaelic performed better in English language than those learning through the medium of English.
Another study, by Strathclyde University and the University of Cagliari in Sardinia, showed that bilingualism has benefits that go beyond language to include arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively. This research found that the vocabulary of bilingual children is noticeably richer than that of children of the same age who are not bilingual. It found that, because bilingual children are used to switching between languages and to thinking in two different languages, this gives them an ability to filter out unimportant information and focus on what is relevant and important.
Language and Cognition in Gaelic-English Young Adult Bilingual Speakers: A Positive Effect of School Immersion Programme on Attentional and Grammatical Skills - This secondary school Gaelic immersion study reports positive effects of bilingualism on language and cognition.
Gaelic makes a valuable contribution to Scotland's education, economy, heritage, language and culture as an official language of Scotland.
A wide range of exciting and viable career opportunities exists for young people who have qualifications in Gaelic.
How do I access Gaelic Medium school for my child?
If you would like your children to be taught through Gaelic Medium Education, contact your local authority.
The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 establishes a process by which parents can request Gaelic Medium Primary Education (GMPE) from their education authority.
A GMPE Request Form is available on the Scottish Government website.
Statutory Guidance has been issued under Section 9 of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. It consists of two parts. Part 1 provides Guidance specifically relating to the Education (Scotland) Act 2016. Part 2 provides Guidance on what parents should expect for GME in schools.
Where can I find further information?
- Comann nam Pàrant (Nàiseanta), the umbrella body for Comann nam Pàrant groups, is a registered charity in Scotland whose main aim is “to promote and support the establishment and maintenance of education through the medium of Gaelic”. All areas with local Comann nam Pàrant groups are able to be represented on the national committee, thus ensuring that all parents can have a voice at national level.
Comann nam Pàrant’s latest annual report is available online.
Their website also has a selection of videos in which parents and practitioners discuss various aspects of Gaelic Medium Education.
- The Highland Council video, “Educational Growth” explains the benefits of Gaelic Medium Education and of being bilingual.
- Bòrd na Gàidhlig - The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 created this statutory body, which has a remit for promoting the use and understanding of Gaelic language, culture and education.
- Stòrlann Naiseanta na Gàidhlig is a government funded group that provides books, resources, support and advice for young people and teachers in Gaelic education. Their website has support for parents of children in Gaelic Medium Education, including live advice on homework.
- Comhairle nan Leabhraichean (The Gaelic Books Council) - you can purchase a full range of books and CDs through the website, or by visiting the shop in Glasgow.
- The Gaelic4parents website provides live online support with Gaelic Medium Education homework across subjects. The website aims to build parents' confidence in accessing Gaelic Medium Education, particularly if they themselves do not speak Gaelic or are learning Gaelic. The website also has audio books for enjoyment and as part of Gaelic reading schemes used by Gaelic Medium Education schools.
- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s website has a range of information on Gaelic Medium Education. It includes this video on the benefits of Gaelic Medium Education, as well as pragmatic advice.