NEW PLANS to tackle the "inadequate preparation" of trainee Gaelic teachers have implications for other areas of teacher education. The General Teaching Council this week proposed that the University of the Highlands and Islands set up a teacher training institution, which would have implications for existing courses at Glasgow and Strathclyde universities and Northern College.
The GTC study was in response to widespread concern about the numbers of qualified Gaelic teachers and their level of competence. An Executive estimate of a shortage of 50 over the next seven years is dismissed as much too low.
The report says "there is professional consensus that the initial teacher education arrangements are not meeting the needs of Gaelic-medium learners." Last session there were 1,816 pupils in Gaelic-medium primary classes and 235 in secondary.
The suggested teacher training in the Highlands could address the problem of limited opportunities for placements in Gaelic-medium classes. The GTC also wants a new certificate in Gaelic-medium education, as "preparation in all cases for the demands of the Gaelic-medium classroom is unsatisfactory". There should also be a "dual route" for BEd and postgraduate primary courses, with half of the school placements in Gaelic-medium classes.
Murdo Maciver, chair of the working group, said the GTC's proposals had "ramifications" for other minority languages that ought to be considered.