This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 06/02/2020  

From Duolingo to Dìleab, and Twitter trends to national headlines, the Gaelic world has been buzzing in recent months. More than 200,000 users joined the free language app Duolingo to learn Gaelic since the course’s launch in November, while at Celtic Connections in Glasgow last month, young people from the Western Isles wowed audiences with their Dìleab performance, a cultural showcase of Gaelic music, singing, and poetry.

This buzz around Dìleab, Duolingo, and Gaelic more generally comes as moves are taking place in Gaelic learning and policy at all levels, most recently with the announcement from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar that a “Gaelic First” policy will be applied to enrolment. From June this year, pupils in the Western Isles entering Primary One will be automatically enrolled in Gaelic Medium Education, unless their parents request otherwise.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 06/02/2020 

For the young people on stage at the New Auditorium, it was a unique experience. On January 17, they performed for hundreds of people at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and another 3000 online, as part of Dileab: Air a’ Chuan (Legacy: On the Ocean)at Celtic Connections, celebrating the islands’ rich connection with the waters which surround them.

“We had almost 70 young people with us from Lewis right through to Barra and they really rose to the occasion,” says Rhona Johnson, Project Coordinator for Dìleab. “The audience, which included Deputy First Minister John Swinney, were treated to a varied and balanced programme of music including instrumental and choral contributions both new and old.” On Twitter, John Swinney described the event as “an outstanding performance” and a “beautiful tribute to our Gaelic culture and a fabulous illustration of the strength of Scottish education.”

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 09/01/2020 


At the start of each new year, young people in the Senior Phase (S4-S6) of secondary schools across Scotland prepare to choose their subjects for the next school session.

In the Outer Hebrides, the choices available to those in the Senior Phase will look a bit different in 2020, as efforts are underway to increase the variety of subjects available to pupils throughout the authority.

It’s all thanks to the planned introduction of a Harmonised School Day and Common Timetable across the islands’ three smaller secondary schools: Castlebay Community School in Barra, Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula, and Sir E Scott School in Harris. When the 2020-2021 school session begins in June, it’s hoped that all three schools will be operating on the same schedule, with The Nicolson Institute harmonizing its timetable as much as possible, due to its larger size.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 05/12/2019 

It’s been a busy few months for the islands’ young people, who have been making their voices heard in the Outer Hebrides at a variety of different events, on issues ranging from climate change to mental health.

The activities kicked off with the Young Leaders Conference on September 24th. Held in the Caberfeidh Hotel in Stornoway, the event was spearheaded by the islands’ two Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), Sakshi Orchison, from Lewis, and Maria McGoldrick, from Uist. 35 young leaders who hold leadership roles in local organisations attended the conference, which aimed to encourage and inspire young leaders, volunteers, and activists.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 08/08/2019 

 Distilling gin. Designing brand graphics. Learning the ins and outs of managing a business. Getting to grips with engineering. All these skills – and more – are being mastered by young people in the Western Isles who are both studying and learning on the job thanks to apprenticeships at all levels.

And apprenticeship opportunities in the islands are expanding again, with the launch of six new Foundation Apprenticeships in the Senior Phase, for pupils in S4-S6.

“We’ve done a lot of work with the four presenting centres through the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Foundation Apprenticeship Programme,” explains Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Apprenticeship Manager, Dolina Smith.