A welcomed sacrifice

10th December 2004 at 00:00
It was with some dismay that I read the article about Gaelic-medium education by Hugh Donnelly in which he states that the provision being considered by Glasgow City Council is for the well-connected, privileged minority.

This could not be further from the truth given the inclusive policy that both the council and Bun Sgoil Ghaidhlig Ghlaschu (the Glasgow Gaelic primary school) operate. Any person regardless of class, creed or ethnic diversity is welcomed, with open arms, to learn this precious language and if Mr Donnelly cared to carry out his research more carefully, he would find out that this is the case.

Equally, there is no foundation for the statement that the school will underperform over time because of the lack of social mix (whatever this means). I would point Mr Donnelly to many of the schools around Scotland that have small rolls and do not have large social and ethnic diversities and ask him to identify the failure in these schools.

In reading his article, it is clear that Mr Donnelly's motives are not about inclusion, but indeed about the situation in which Hillpark Secondary School may find itself vis-...-vis league tables.

He is indeed right that the Gaelic cohort, as he calls them (a phrase, in itself, that is both derogatory and exclusionist), has raised attainment in the school and consequently contributed to the excellent position that Hillpark finds itself in.

Furthermore, what Mr Donnelly does not highlight is the sacrifice that Gaelic-speaking pupils have to make in order to gain their education in Gaelic. He does not mention that they have to forgo some PE and RE classes in order to get their chosen subject taught in Gaelic. As far as I know, no other pupils forgo statutory lessons.

Glasgow City Council has steadfastly supported Gaelic-medium education over many years. It is to be congratulated for its forward-looking approach to an all-Gaelic secondary school which will be a blueprint for Gaelic-medium provision across Scotland.

This is a brave and progressive decision to take - and should be embraced by one of the council's own teachers.

Elaine Brown

Correen Gardens

Bearsden, Glasgow

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