History of Gaelic school campaign launched

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

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There has been a significant amount of attention in recent times on the importance of Gaelic-medium education to Scotland cultural heritage.

It continued this week when Deputy First Minister John Swinney presided at the launch of a new history book by award-winning Gaelic author Tim Armstrong, a lecturer at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture on the Isle of Skye.

This new book, Às na Freumhan (From the Grassroots), follows the history of the campaign to establish an all-Gaelic school in Edinburgh, a long and often contentious fight that lasted a total of 14 years, but which was ultimately won by the parents and the other Gaelic activists lobbying for the school, culminating in the approval of Bun-Sgoil Taobh na Pàirce by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2011.

Along with the history, Armstrong examines the case for Gaelic schools in Scotland, and makes the argument that establishing more standalone Gaelic schools to replace Gaelic units over the coming years will be key for ensuring that Gaelic-medium education plays its part in securing the future of the language in Scotland.

‘All-Gaelic schools have many advantages,’ Armstrong explained. ‘Educational, social and linguistic, but the biggest advantage of all-Gaelic schools is certainly the chance to promote a strong Gaelic ethos throughout the school.

‘Young Gaelic speakers won’t make much use of their Gaelic outside of school or in the future if the language isn’t important to them personally, as part of their identity as young Gaels.

‘To foster this sort of healthy, positive identity association with the language, educators need to promote a strong pro-Gaelic ethos in all aspects of Gaelic-medium provision, and promoting such an ethos is much more practicable in an all-Gaelic school than in a Gaelic unit or in an English-medium/Gaelic-medium shared campus.’

The book launch was Monday at Bun-Sgoil Taobh na Pàirce, the Gaelic
primary school in Leith.