Gaelic medium education in the primary school involves the use of the Gaelic language for all learning and teaching, across all subjects in the curriculum, using immersion methods in P1 and P2. English reading and writing are generally introduced from P3 but the principal language of the classroom is Gaelic throughout primary. The aim of Gaelic medium education, through the government's national guidelines, is to take children to the same level of fluency in Gaelic and English by the time they leave primary school. In most instances Gaelic medium education is delivered in Gaelic medium departments within English medium schools but some areas now have Gaelic medium schools.
The number of pupils who are in Gaelic medium education at primary school level has risen from 24 in 1985 in 2 schools to over 2,500 in the school year 2012-2013 in 60 schools.
Does Gaelic medium education hinder children’s development?
No. Studies have shown that children in Gaelic education do as well as or better than their peers in all subjects including English.
How can I support my child’s education when I do not speak Gaelic myself?
Support your child by taking an interest in their education and in as many aspects of Gaelic activity as possible – television, radio, out-of-school activities and social occasions. There are also many opportunities for parents to learn some Gaelic, very often in special classes for parents.
I like to read to my child at home. How can parents do this if they are not fluent in Gaelic?
You can ask the school for a loan of Gaelic books on tape which you could use together with your child and there are some books with audio available to download from the internet, for example the website for parents www.gaelic4parents.com. There is no reason whatsoever why you should not also read in English to your children
How will Gaelic medium education affect my child’s English?
Children in Gaelic medium education are initially taught almost entirely in Gaelic and English reading and writing are generally introduced from P3. Children transfer skills acquired in one language to the other so tend to progress quickly once they start reading in English. In fact, a study conducted at Stirling University in 1999 showed 'that P7 Gaelic-medium pupils performed better in English than English-medium pupils’.
My child is a fluent Gaelic speaker. Why should I choose Gaelic medium education?
GME reinforces the language of the fluent speakers and encourages them to continue using Gaelic in all situations. It also enables them to become fully literate in the language.
Can children with additional support or special needs receive Gaelic-medium education?
They can and do. Many local authorities have excellent inclusion policies that apply equally to Gaelic and English provision. You should be able to access advice from your education department regarding the learning needs of your child and what Gaelic medium education can offer.
If my child needs to travel to access the nearest Gaelic-medium facility, will transport be provided?
Education authorities often provide Gaelic medium education on an area basis so do have transport arrangements in place for children who require to travel past their local school. Contact your own Authority for detailed information on travel arrangements.