Gaelic has a right to equal status;Leading Article

15th October 1999 at 01:00
WITH the benefit of hindsight, fears commonly expressed in the 1980s that Gaelic-medium classes would ill serve pupils' wider educational interests were bound to be misconceived. The research report (page five) finds that progress in English and other subjects is unaffected by time spent on Gaelic, and indeed Gaelic pupils frequently do better than others.

The conclusion is unsurprising for two reasons, one educational, the other social. Educationally, the challenge of learning skills in two languages is likely to be beneficial. For example, the structure of English makes more sense when it is set alongside that of another language. It takes on a relevance otherwise difficult to instil in a primary pupil's mind. Perhaps, too, there is confirmation of other research suggesting that pupils respond to being challenged. Those following specialist courses in music and dance also do well in their range of academic subjects.

Families of Gaelic-medium pupils are committed to and often deeply involved in school activities. Many are middle-class professionals, as the research shows. Therefore comparison of pupil performances must take account of that social factor.

All teachers accept that parental interest is crucial to pupil progress, especially in primary. Parents who have chosen a distinctive form of education want the validity of their choice demonstrated. Rudolf Steiner schools benefit from such individualism and commitment. So do Gaelic-medium classes, and the new report should encourage the Executive in its backing for the next development, schools dedicated to the language.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now