The committee have met on four occasions since the 2009 AGM during what has been a year of mixed fortunes for Gaelic medium education.
There was a small increase in the number of pupils at primary level making a total of 2256 pupils compared to 2206 last year in 60 schools throughout Scotland. There was an increase of 23 in the number of pupils enrolling in Primary 1 which means that there were 390 new entrants to Gaelic medium education this year. There was also an increase of 7% in the number of pupils leaving primary continuing to some level of Gaelic medium secondary education.
The most significant growth continues to be in dedicated Gaelic schools and urban areas such as Edinburgh. It is therefore especially disappointing that there has been such little progress from Highland Council with regard to the Gaelic schools in Fort William and Portree since there was agreement in principle to both schools in November 2008. Parents throughout Highland are also very concerned about Highland Council’s proposal to align teacher/pupil ratios in GME with those in EME. This was discussed at a regional meeting of CnP in April with the consensus that this will have an extremely negative impact on GME and we have been encouraging all CnP groups and parents in Highland to contact the local authority voicing their concerns. CnP(N) have written on the issue to the Director of Education in Highland and have also been in correspondence with him regarding the failure to appoint a Gaelic Education Officer.
With assistance from Bòrd na Gàidhlig we have launched the ‘Parental Advisory Scheme’. This is a national Gaelic Medium Education (GME) promotion initiative which will involve establishing a network of parental advisors who will raise awareness of GME opportunities across Scotland and ultimately increase the number of pupils accessing GME. We feel that the best advice for prospective parents to GME can come from other parents with personal experience of GME as parents or carers of children who are either currently in GME or have gone through GME. There have been training days for the scheme in Inverness and Glasgow with representatives from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Comunn na Gàidhlig, the BBC and Bilingual Matters contributing to the days. As well as these three training days we have held smaller training sessions in Fort William and Aberdeen and we have now trained 22 advisors. Advisors have been involved in a number of promotional activities in their areas; organising events, liaising with schools and organising open days, distributing leaflets and posters, advertising in local press and visiting pre-school facilities to speak to parents.
As part of the scheme we have to ensure that advisors are resourced and we have produced a number of leaflets and posters. The main resource and information for parents continues to be the ‘Fios is Freagairt’ booklet on GME and this year we have produced the second in the series which has information for parents on how to best support their child’s Gaelic in the home. We have so far distributed around 1,500 of these booklets to parents.
We continue to support Gaelic education by organising Gaelic medium activities for children outwith the school both locally and nationally and this year we held the seventh Gaelic week in April for Gaelic medium pupils. Around 200 pupils came to Edinburgh where they took part in Gaelic medium activities at the National Galleries, Fruitmarket Gallery, Our Dynamic Earth, Royal Botanic Gardens and Edinburgh Castle. For the fifth successive year Comann nam Pàrant in Edinburgh have helped organise a cèilidh evening for us to allow visiting schools to have a social event during their visit and we are most grateful for their support.
Earlier in the year along with Comunn na Gàidhlig we organised the fourth Family Week in Lewis. Parents attended Ulpan classes while their children were at the Feis in Stornoway. Although we can only cater for a small number of families this is a very successful event which we plan to repeat this year.
We continue to produce a school diary for primary pupils and offer financial assistance to secondary schools that wish to have a bilingual school diary.
Comann nam Pàrant are grateful to Bòrd na Gàidhlig for continuing to fund the activities of the organisation and to Comunn na Gàidhlig for continuing administrative support.
I would also like to thank all the parents in the local Comann nam Pàrant groups that have campaigned for and supported Gaelic medium education this year. We realise that parents have many commitments and appreciate the time they give to CnP at local level.
In this coming year Comann nam Pàrant (Nàiseanta) would like to see a strengthening of the national committee with more parents engaging at national level. We look forward to working with Bòrd na Gàidhlig on priorities identified in their recently published Action Plan to increase the number of Gaelic speakers. Priorities for the coming year are; increase awareness of, and number of entrants to, Gaelic medium education mainly through a network of parental advocates, encourage and support parents to use more Gaelic in the home, support the demand for dedicated Gaelic schools and continue to seek improvements in provision in secondary schools.Dawn Morgan, Comann nam Pàrant (Nàiseanta) Chairperson, May 2010
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 CnP 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 (Nàiseanta) Committee 2009 / 2010
Dawn Morgan Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
Mary Galbraith South West Scotland
Marsaili Dow South West Scotland
Fiona MacLeod Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
Fiona Byrne Wester Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Colin Meek Wester Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Lorna MacDermid Wester Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Kerry Butler Central Scotland
Sharon Methven East of Scotland
Donna Campbell East of Scotland
Sandy Nicholson East of Scotland