A primary school in North Lanarkshire which teaches Gaelic as its third language is in the running for a top Gaelic education award, alongside schools with Gaelic Medium Education units.
Gartcosh Primary School is up for the Gaelic Award in next month’s Scottish Education Awards, alongside Ardnamurchan High School in Lochaber and Sgoil an Taobh Siar on the Isle of Lewis.
And staff have praised Go! Gaelic, Storlann’s online programme of resources, for enabling them to teach some Gaelic in confidence within ‘mainstream’, or English Medium Education.
Judges from the Education Awards visited Gartcosh recently and class teacher Rachel Neilly, who has been heavily involved in delivering Gaelic within the school, took the opportunity to tell them about the school’s positive experience of using Go! Gaelic.
Go! Gaelic is a vast online suite of sequenced resources designed to support teachers and was created by Stòrlann, the Gaelic educational resources organisation based in Stornoway but with a responsibility to schools teaching Gaelic all over Scotland.
Go! Gaelic does not aim to deliver fluency, unlike Gaelic Medium which is immersive in nature, but is designed as a complete introduction to the language.
The programme, which can be found online at www.go-gaelic.scot, includes a wealth of resources that can be used in the classrooms. There is also a Go! Gaelic App available.
Rachel said: “We mentioned to the judges that we love Go! Gaelic. It’s such a good resource and is really well structured. It’s so good for a learner like myself to be able to access that and have a programme that we absolutely trust because we know that the Gaelic is absolutely accurate.”
Gartcosh Primary teaches Gaelic and German alongside English, in line with Scottish Government policy which states that all children should have the chance to learn an additional language from primary one and a third language thereafter.
At Gartcosh, this means teaching German from primary one and Gaelic officially from primary five — although they try to give the children exposure to both languages from primary one.
Staff have introduced a number of measures in the wider school, outwith actual lessons, to increase the pupils’ familiarity to both languages.
These have included a Gaelic after-school club, a joint Gaelic and German fruit shop and book club, and the use of both languages at assemblies.
Awards are given to the senior pupils who have shown the most enthusiasm for learning Gaelic and for the younger ones who have shown the most interest in Scottish culture.
Another popular feature is the ‘word of the month’ competition, where a pupil gets to nominate a word for Gaelic and German translation and sees it published in the monthly school newsletter.
The school’s main Gaelic event, however, was a Mini Mod, held for the first time last October along similar lines to the traditional festival.
Pupils were involved from primary one and now, inspired by that success, staff are planning a second Mod — but a Gaelic and German one this time, entitled ‘Das Mod’.
It is planned for June 2018 and it is hoped there will also be participation from neighbouring schools. Gartcosh has already had input from Chryston High School’s music department.
In the meantime, the school can look forward to the finals of the Education Awards on June 7 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Glasgow.
Three pupils will attend the awards alongside head teacher Alison McFarlane and class teacher Rachel Neilly, who has been heavily involved in delivering Gaelic within the school.
Head teacher Alison McFarlane said: “We are delighted to be finalists for the Gaelic category in this year’s Scottish Education Awards. The whole school community is very excited.
“The pupils thoroughly enjoy learning Gaelic as the L3 and are able to display their learning in many ways. We look forward to continuing to learn and use as much Gaelic as possible wherever possible.”
Stòrlann chief executive Donald W Morrison said: “For me, there’s more to this shortlist than meets the eye.
“It highlights the fantastic learning opportunities for learners and fluent speakers from across Scotland and by all accounts it demonstrates the relevance of Gaelic as a language of our day.
“Go! Gaelic gives a big shout out for Gartcosh Primary whose energy and enthusiasm for the language has placed them on the Scottish Education Award podium with finalists from Ardnamurchan and Lewis.”
The Scottish Education Awards are sponsored by the Daily Record and Education Scotland, with the specific Gaelic Education Award being sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The awards “celebrate the hard work and success that takes place in Scottish education” and “recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcase the valuable work and innovation” in the classroom.