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Primary School / Bun-Sgoil 

Gaelic Medium Education (GME) in the primary school follows the same curriculum as English Medium. Pupils do not have to be from homes where Gaelic is spoken. They may begin to learn through the medium of Gaelic, in early learning and childcare settings or in some cases in P1. The early stage of learning through the medium of Gaelic, and where no other language is used, is referred to as ‘total immersion’. This means that no other language, but Gaelic is used during P1-3 with children learning to talk, read and write in Gaelic. In P4 the children are taught reading and writing in English, but this is taught through the medium of Gaelic meaning that the language of the classroom is still Gaelic. All other topics and subjects are taught through the medium of Gaelic using Gaelic resources.

There are now a number of stand-alone Gaelic Schools in Highland Council area, Glasgow City and Edinburgh. Where a stand-alone Gaelic School is not available, GME is delivered alongside English medium provision. GME is available in 15 of Scotland’s local authorities. For the full list of schools offering GME provision, please click here.

A short video with information about Gaelic Medium Education in Primary School from parents and those involved in Gaelic Medium Education.

Common questions about Gaelic Medium Education 

Does Gaelic medium education hinder children’s development?

No. Studies have shown that children in Gaelic education do as well as or better than their peers in all subjects including English.

How can I support my child’s education when I do not speak Gaelic myself?

Support your child by taking an interest in their education and in as many aspects of Gaelic activity as possible – television, radio, out-of-school activities and social occasions. There are also many opportunities for parents to learn some Gaelic, very often in special classes for parents.

I like to read to my child at home. How can parents do this if they are not fluent in Gaelic?

You can ask the school for a loan of Gaelic books on tape which you could use together with your child and there are some books with audio available to download from the internet, for example the website for parents There is no reason whatsoever why you should not also read in English to your children

How will Gaelic medium education affect my child’s English?

Children in Gaelic medium education are initially taught almost entirely in Gaelic and English reading and writing are generally introduced from P3.  Children transfer skills acquired in one language to the other so tend to progress quickly once they start reading in English. In fact, a study conducted at Stirling University in 1999 showed 'that P7 Gaelic-medium pupils performed better in English than English-medium pupils’.

My child is a fluent Gaelic speaker. Why should I choose Gaelic medium education?

GME reinforces the language of the fluent speakers and encourages them to continue using Gaelic in all situations. It also enables them to become fully literate in the language.

Can children with additional support or special needs receive Gaelic-medium education?

They can and do. Many local authorities have excellent inclusion policies that apply equally to Gaelic and English provision. You should be able to access advice from your education department regarding the learning needs of your child and what Gaelic medium education can offer. 

If my child needs to travel to access the nearest Gaelic-medium facility, will transport be provided?

Education authorities often provide Gaelic medium education on an area basis so do have transport arrangements in place for children who require to travel past their local school. Contact your own Authority for detailed information on travel arrangements.

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