MINISTERS have moved to prevent Gaelic from becoming a political football by agreeing to include Gaelic-medium education in the education Bill.
Critics had complained that there was no reference to the language in the Bill, although the Executive's current consultation on the key outcomes for education is seeking views on whether Gaelic-medium education should be one of the "national priorities" which will form the basis for schools' improvement targets.
As pressure mounted from the SNP and Liberal Democrats, the Executive has nw decided that councils will be required to furnish annual statements on the extent and nature of provision for Gaelic-medium education. This heads off pressure to put such provision on a statutory footing.
Peter Peacock, Deputy Children and Education Minister, said: "This sends a clear signal that we regard Gaelic as part of the education scene in Scotland."
Allan Campbell, chief executive of Comunn na Gaidhlig, said the move provided an entitlement but would not force the language on areas where there was no demand.