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Web ushers new age for Gaelic classes

The profile of Gaelic education is being raised at this year's SETT show, with the launch of a Gaelic website and seminars for the community.

For the first time, Gaelic teachers and learners will be able to attend presentations developed specifically to meet their needs, and they can get a taste of the g...idhlig air-loidhne (Gaelic online) service, which promises to be central to the future of Gaelic education. It uses information technology to make the delivery forward-looking and inclusive.

Funded by the National Grid for Learning Scotland and developed by Learning and Teaching Scotland in partnership with Strlann N...iseanta na G...idhlig, the website provides a range of resources, discussion forums, support for Gaelic language skills and opportunities for continuing professional development.

An early version was introduced in March 2004 to delegates at a Gaelic teachers' conference, after which the g...idhlig air-loidhne team produced an online questionnaire for Gaelic practitioners to send feedback and information.

The key to success for such an educational website is to make participants aware of its interactive features. For example, Gaelic teachers will be able to share good practice and resources they develop, not only within their school or local authority but with teachers across Scotland.

The website will create a single access point to all current interactive Gaelic resources and downloadable material. Through its forums, teachers will have opportunities for discussion, peer support and collaboration.

Teachers can now key in to the Gaelic-language information on the 5-14 curriculum, direct links to Gaelic primary schools and departments in secondaries. Their classes can take part in an on-going competition to write about their schools: the best entries, with text and photographs, will run on the site for a few weeks and a prize will go to the overall winner. The site's content editor is Ruairidh Mackay, a Gaelic teacher from Central Primary in Inverness.

The benefits for Gaelic education are far-reaching, especially because of the opportunities the site brings for communicating new approaches, accessing materials and sharing good practice.

This session, there will be face-to-face training about the website, followed by online support, at venues across Scotland.

The seminar at the SETT show will focus on the website services as well as steps being taken to enhance access for the Gaelic community to all areas of education.

Presentations of the new Gaelic online classroom resources will be made by the gaidhlig air-loidhne team at the Scottish Education Village in the SETT exhibition area. These include a range of fun, interactive classroom resources with quizzes and games that combine audio, text, illustrations and photographs.

Environmental studies activities cover energy, lifestyles, mapping and weather. Mathematics is presented through a fairground theme, covering number bonds, problem solving, shape recognition and data-handling for early years Gaelic medium pupils. And a Gaelic language game featuring Glug, an alien from Mars, helps to reinforce grammar. It is aimed at S1S2 Gaelic learners.

The recently developed software for Gaelic word-processing, a Gaelic language version of the free Open Office suite, will also be demonstrated.

Continuing professional development will be covered, with Matthew MacIver, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, giving a presentation. He will tell how CPD opportunities are being designed and made available online to help teachers improve Gaelic language skills. They will also link to the provision of resources for the primary and secondary curriculums.

Stuart Robertson, of the Scottish Executive, will outline e-learning in Gaelic education.

Janet MacLeod is a project team leader with Learning and Teaching Scotland, seconded from her headteacher post at Bun-sgoil Shl ite, the Gaelic primary school in Sleat, Isle of Skye, Alive and Online by Janet MacLeod, Thursday, 12.45pm

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