Five schools in Islay and Jura are getting a visit from a specialist Gaelic tutor this week (beginning Monday, March 27) as part of an education, language and arts programme run by Fèisean nan Gàidheal.
Linda MacLeod, also well known as a traditional Gaelic singer, is visiting the four primary schools on Islay — Port Charlotte, Bowmore, Port Ellen and Keills — and Small Isles Primary School on Jura between Monday and Thursday.
She is taking special classes as part of the Fèisgoil programme. This is the formal education arm of Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the umbrella organisation for the Fèis movement, and aims to give primary school children and their teachers a cultural introduction to Gaelic.
Typical Fèisgoil lessons are made up of teaching the children some words and phrases amid lots of play and song. Fèisgoil tutors also aim to give the children an awareness of the relevance of Gaelic to where they live, such as through place names or folklore, and they also aim to give teachers some ideas that they can use in the classroom themselves later on.
The Fèisgoil programme of progressive lessons, devised by Linda in consultation with Fèisean nan Gàidheal staff and tutors, draws on the extensive Go! Gaelic programme. Go! Gaelic aims to help teachers in ‘mainstream’ or English Medium Education to teach some Gaelic to their pupils.
Go! Gaelic has been developed by Stornoway-based Gaelic educational resources Stòrlann Naiseanta na Gàidhlig and comprises 20 units on particular topics, viewable online at www.go-gaelic.scot. The resource includes powerpoints, audio files and films.
Stòrlann chief executive Donald W Morrison said Fèisgoil’s work in schools, using Go! Gaelic, was
an excellent example of how Gaelic organisations can work together for the furtherance and promotion of Gaelic acquisition in Scotland”.
Eilidh Mackenzie is Manaidsear Fèisgoil (Fèisgoil Manager). She explained there were three sections to their programme: drama, music and language.
The visits to Islay and Jura are part of the language stream, which is known as Blàsad Gàidhlig and focused on Gaelic language learning sessions.
Often these sessions take place during class time, with the teacher sitting in, although Blàsad Gàidhlig will also conduct CPD sessions or training for other organisations such as public bodies.
Maggie MacLellan is a class teacher at Port Charlotte Primary School but also the appointed ‘language leader’ for Islay and Jura, meaning she is responsible for delivering Argyll and Bute’s languages programme to the schools. She said of Fèisgoil:
It’s a brilliant opportunity and it will be interactive. I’ve been impressed by how keen the teachers are too. It’s a great opportunity to have a bit of training and the great thing is that we don’t have to go anywhere, which costs a fortune and is difficult to get class cover for.”
Eilidh Mackenzie said:
We are absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to support teachers and their classes in Islay and Jura schools. The geography involved means it is difficult for Fèisgoil, the formal education arm of Fèisian nan Gàidheal, to visit the schools on a weekly basis as we do in other local authorities. In response we are sending our tutor to the schools for a four-day intensive block of Gaelic support.
“The Blàsad Gàidhlig approach encourages creative learning flexibility and the content of our sessions has been built up, primarily by Linda, but with support from our team of teachers and FnG staff as well as drawing on existing resources such as Go! Gaelic.”
Go! Gaelic is supported by Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and a growing number of local authorities including Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Fèisean nan Gàidheal was supported by Scottish Government in delivering these Blàsad Gàidhlig sessions.
Fèisgoil will be in the following primary schools on the following days:
Port Charlotte — Monday
Port Ellen — Tuesday
Bowmore — Wednesday
Small Isles, Jura — Thursday morning
Keills — Thursday afternoon
For further information contact
Eilidh Mackenzie, Fèisean manager, on 01463 225559
Katie Laing, PR consultant at Storlann, on 07825200110