Online replies - Bid to cut Gaelic class size

13th August 2010 at 01:00

The article and headline on cutting Gaelic class sizes (TESS, August 6) are fairly misleading; the vast majority of Gaelic-medium class sizes are already 15 or smaller, simply because the sector is smaller. There are really only a few schools in Scotland, mostly in Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh, where the Gaelic schools are hugely oversubscribed with long waiting lists, where classes are as large as those in English-medium schools, so this policy is rather a bid to keep things as they are.

I am a Gaelic-medium primary teacher and fully support lowering class sizes in all schools, certainly in schools with large numbers of EAL pupils or pupils with additional support needs. However, I think it's important to acknowledge that it would be an enormous change in Gaelic- medium education to raise class sizes to those of English-medium schools, and one that would set GME back 20 years.

Pedagogically, the Glasgow Gaelic School is right - the class teacher of EAL pupils is rarely the only source of English in their life, whereas the GM class teacher is quite often the only source of Gaelic. That isn't an argument for large class sizes in English-medium schools, but it does illustrate how crucial smaller class sizes with a lot of teacher-pupil contact are for GM classes.


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