Parents say no to stand-alone Gaelic primary

15th May 2009 at 01:00
According to a survey which has revealed linguistic tensions even in the heartland of the language

Almost two-thirds of parents in a small Highland community are against the council's decision to create a stand-alone Gaelic primary, according to a survey which once again has revealed linguistic tensions even in the heartland of the language.

Highland Council has committed itself to providing two all-Gaelic primaries, one in Portree on Skye and the other in Lochaber.

However, the majority of parents at Portree Primary, which will lose the 100 children in its Gaelic-medium unit out of a total roll of 250 when the new school is built, are against the move, the parent council claims. It carried out a survey involving 151 parents and found 61 per cent were against the creation of the new school, with just 36 per cent in favour.

Chair of the parent council Helen Gilpin is opposed to the plan, though her children are educated in Gaelic. She said: "There seems to have been a great assumption that everybody wants this. But there are a lot of unanswered questions, like what will happen to the children being educated in the unit now? Will they be forced to leave Portree when the new school is built if they don't want to be educated in English? There's also concern in the community about whether a new primary is sustainable. Portree is a small place."

In responses to the survey, parents said they were worried two schools would prove divisive and create a "them and us attitude".

Overall, however, the parents of children in the Gaelic unit came out in favour of the new school - but only just; 41 in favour and 31 against.

Meanwhile, the parents of children taught in English were opposed to the move, with 61 against and 13 for. Five stated no preference.

Highland Council says it has carried out a full consultation with the community which revealed "overwhelming support" for a stand-alone Gaelic primary.

This is not the first time that Gaelic-medium education has split a Skye community. Divisions were created between parents in the Sleat peninsula over proposals to turn the local primary into an all-Gaelic school. A compromise was reached whereby Sleat Primary became a Gaelic school with an English unit.

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