A special case for Gaelic

17th December 2004 at 00:00
I do appear to have touched a very raw nerve evident in the two letters and the article of last week. ("Anyone can study Gaelic," "Glasgow has got it right on Gaelic").

The nicest thing I'm accused of is being a geographical revisionist; Woodside secondary, west end or city centre? could become a pub quiz classic. But it was not quite the substance of my argument.

Brian Wilson uses the word "conspiracy", whereas I used the term "successfully lobbied" with regard to the success of securing Executive funding for a new Gaelic school. The Gaelic community should be a lot less sensitive, given the political support and positive discrimination it receives.

I support unconditionally extra investment where appropriate and proportionate and consistent with educational principle and policy: for example, not only the promotion of Gaelic education, but also communication disorder units, English as a second language, the asylum seeker project, the dance school in Glasgow's Knightswood secondary, and Shawlands academy's international school where several languages are spoken.

The other personal attacks and misrepresentations are to be expected under the circumstances, but I would have expected them to focus on the more legitimate argument to plead an opt-out of educational policy and a special case for Gaelic speakers. This, however, they fail to do.

According to one correspondent, what we have here is the creation of a brand new socially inclusive, comprehensive secondary which is a welcome addition to educational choice for all Glasgow pupils regardless of class, creed, or ethnic diversity. Yet another makes the claim for a separate school and the promotion of a Gaelic ethos (whatever that might be) where the medium of instruction will be exclusively Gaelic. Indeed, Gaelic cultural uniqueness is argued as a justification for a separate and exclusive campus for Gaelic speakers.

Your correspondent alludes to the limitations of a big school where the opportunities for Gaelic pupils are diluted by the presence of others.

Indeed, it is argued that Gaelic pupils just end up talking to their friends in English. (In Glasgow? Surely there would be elements of Scottish urban dialect creeping in also. Knock me down with a feather).

It will be interesting to see how the bold, brave Glasgow councillors take forward this policy in order to promote other linguistic and ethnic minorities, and protect them from the limitations of a truly comprehensive, inclusive school which promotes integration and celebrates diversity.

A triumph for Gaelic education? Indeed - and congratulations. A triumph, however, for Scottish education and a model for "ambitious, excellent schools?"

Hugh Donnelly Hillpark Secondary Glasgow

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