The Gaelic educational resources organisation based in Stornoway, Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, is to play a large part in a national conference on Friday (March 3), aimed at increasing the amount of Gaelic being taught in primary schools across Scotland.

The Gaelic Learners Practitioners Conference, taking place in Stirling, is aimed at teachers wishing to deliver Gaelic in English Medium Education, or ‘mainstream’.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, will be making the keynote address.

The conference, in Stirling Court Hotel, is being attended by more than 80 delegates, including around 50 teachers and some teacher training co-ordinators from across Scotland.

There will also be representation from the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and a number of Gaelic organisations and local authorities such as North Lanarkshire and Glasgow City Council.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney, said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet practitioners at this week’s Gaelic Learners in the Primary School conference. The fact that we have over 50 teachers from 22 Local Authorities travelling to the event shows the considerable interest in Gaelic that exists across Scotland.

“We have seen excellent progress with Gaelic language support and development in a number of areas over recent years. This is particularly true in the areas of education, media and the arts and this is down to the continuing hard work and strong effort of individuals and organisations involved. I hope that those attending the conference today will benefit from the training on offer and continue to strengthen the language going forward.” 

For Stòrlann, the event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of its comprehensive educational resource programme, Go! Gaelic.

This is a programme aimed primarily at teachers and pupils in Gaelic learner streams in primary  — not in Gaelic Medium Education — and is a complete package designed to fully equip teachers for teaching some Gaelic to their pupils.

Go! Gaelic is designed to help teachers deliver the Scottish Government’s initiative Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 Approach, which opens the way for children in Scottish education to engage with a framework of learning based on the mother tongue plus two additional languages.

There are 20 units on set topics in the Go! Gaelic programme — which can be viewed online at www.go-gaelic.scot — and it comes with a range of resources, including powerpoints, audio files and films. A Go! Gaelic App has also been developed to complement the programme.

Go! Gaelic is supported by the Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and a growing number of  Local Authorities. Stòrlann Chief Executive Donald W Morrison will be speaking about its importance in boosting the teaching of Gaelic in primary schools when he addresses the conference.

He will tell the delegates that Go! Gaelic — already adopted by The Highland Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as their “preferred means of delivering Gaelic in 1+2 classroom settings”— is a resource of “great potential”.

He will say it “supports the national ambitions for raising the number of young people using Gaelic in Scotland” and will stress its importance “within the context of Gaelic language development in Scotland”.

Following on from John Swinney’s address, conference delegates will have an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the Go!Gaelic resource.

First, Storlann’s Head of Projects, Donald J MacRitchie, will be giving an overview of the Go! Gaelic resource and then Storlann’s Go! Gaelic training co-ordinators will take delegates through the first unit of the course, to show how it works in practice.

After giving an overview of the course, DJ MacRitchie will ask the teachers what else they want or need in terms of resources.

“I’m going to ask for feedback and see what teachers come back with,” he said. “All the information that we gather and collate from the conference is valuable. This is a great opportunity to meet so many English medium teachers.”