Gaelic Revival from Portree to Leith
Are there signs of a gaelic revival beag air bheag? Modest and scattered but nevertheless visible? Numbers in pre-school in Skye are at an all time high whilst Edinburgh’s first ever Gaelic school will be bursting at the seams when it opens after the summer – thanks to unprecedented demand from parents.
60 pupils are set to join Parkside Primary in August – an intake which far exceeds education chiefs’ expectations. The school is in Leith but will include kids from Tolcross Primary’s now-closed Gaelic unit.
Headteacher Anne MacPhail said the school (to be known as Bun-sgoil Taobh na Parc in Gaelic) – will provide a unique learning environment when the youngsters come in after the summer break. Ms MacPhail said: “I did not expect the rolls to be that big. It’s very healthy and very encouraging that families of all different kinds and from all different parts of the city are coming to the school.
As well as a larger than expected P1 intake, the other classes are also busy with 36 pupils in P2, 25 in P3, 31 in P4, 24 in P5, 21 in P6 and 18 in P7. Meanwhile at the other end of the country on Skye, Portree parents are welcoming the green light for a long awaited standalone Gaelic Primary School.
The Highland Council this week approved its Capital Programme Review which includes agreement of £8m for a Gaelic School in Portree.
Commenting on the news the group’s Chair, Annika Rawlings, said: “Comann nam Pàrant Port Rìgh is delighted to welcome the news from The Highland Council which gives us certainty, after many delays, that the Gaelic School in Portree will now proceed. We are a voluntary group of Gaelic medium parents and the group has been campaigning since 2007 for a standalone Gaelic School. Following a statutory consultation in 2008, The Highland Council agreed that a Gaelic School should be established. Following a period of inaction, however, in 2010 the council changed its tune and its stated position became that the school would only proceed if fully funded externally.”
“Parents continued to work with councillors and the Scottish Government which will be making a substantial contribution to the capital cost of the Gaelic school. I am delighted that a combination of that determined effort, the intervention by the Scottish Government and a change of administration at The Highland Council has led us to where we are today with a guarantee that Portree will, at last, have a Gaelic primary school. We would like to thank everyone who has worked towards this stage and we are heartened that the project is now classified as “must do”. We look forward to continuing to work with The Highland Council to see the school come to fruition.”
Over the past two years Comann nam Pàrant Port Rìgh has taken over the running of non- statutory Gaelic pre-school provision and associated services in the town with financial support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the National Lottery.
Annika Rawlings said: “Indications are that Gaelic medium education has a very bright future in Portree. Numbers in pre-school are at an all-time high with demand currently outstripping the limits of the premises we use. The Highland Council has undertaken that full-time wraparound care will be available in the new school and this will be a new and welcome service for the area which should help ensure the success of the Gaelic school.”
According to today’s approval development of the school will commence in 2015-16 with the school operational in 2017.
Comann nam Pàrant Port Rìgh’s 2008 case for a standalone Gaelic school in Portreem https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5730322/CnPHCSubmission.pdf
This twin blooming – both in traditional Gaelic-speaking Skye and in Scotland’s capital is welcome news of a new generation reclaiming aspects of their own culture and language.