GAELIC PARENTS’ DEPUTATION
On 12 December 2017, at the meeting of the Education, Children & Families Committee at which the 8 December Report was considered, there was a deputation from Gaelic parents groups (Marianne O'Loughlin, Chair of Taobh na Pàirce Parent Council; Brian Thunder of Comman nam Pàrant Dùn Èideann; and Anna Kinsella of Taobh na Pàirce PC).
They repeated their aspiration for a dedicated GME secondary in Edinburgh. According to the transcript of that deputation:
We have consistently campaigned to keep GME open to all who wish it for their children. We are fortunate to have benefited from cross-party support at Holyrood and within Edinburgh Council, and a cross-party understanding of the investment required to support GME.
We have also benefited over the past two years in a collaborative approach with councillors and officials at Edinburgh Council, which is allowing plans to be formed which have input from the Gaelic community, and the expertise that GME parents can bring to the table.
I want to set the context of how far we have come to get where we are today with GME in our city. The GME primary unit was set up at Tollcross in 1988 with seven pupils in a composite class, and one teacher, after parents had worked towards this goal for the best part of a decade.
Today we have 349 children in our primary school with 80 in the nursery.
A specific and recurring issue for GME families has been the lack of certainty in the educational pathway. Whether it is moving from playgroup to nursery, nursery to primary, or primary to secondary, GME families often have to contend with uncertainty about whether there will be capacity available for their children to continue within GME. By capacity I mean the availability of teaching staff as well as physical classroom space.
It is crucial that any proposed development solution gives families long term certainty in the GME pathway.
To look specifically at Gaelic secondary education, parents have a vision of a much enhanced GME experience including a greater percentage of the timetable to be delivered through Gaelic. They also need the opportunity to study to SQA level in some subjects through Gaelic, and for Gaelic to be spoken and heard every day at school.
Parents see it as very important that the GME community stays together in one school at secondary. In Glasgow, the dedicated Gaelic-medium secondary school has been a great success story. We welcome a discussion about following that development model in Edinburgh.
The development of Gaelic education is a long journey, and we will continue to encounter challenges along the way. The opening of Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce was a real milestone and has been a great success in terms of broadening the appeal of GME and opening access to the language to many new families. The challenge remains to ensure that the children receive a proper immersion education.
We will continue to work with the Council on the next phase of this journey, looking not just at the expansion of physical capacity at secondary, but at the enhancement of the Gaelic education which is delivered, and the overall picture of GME from birth to 18 years old.