The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Preparing teachers to teach in Gaelic

Ian Minty tells the story behind the development of Gaelic teacher education

For most of the 20th century, accessing initial teacher education for people living in the Highlands and Islands meant heading south to a college in the central belt or the north east coast. If you were a Gaelic speaker and wanted to pursue a Gaelic medium programme, your options were Northern College (now incorporated into the University of Aberdeen), Jordanhill (University of Strathclyde) and more recently Moray House (University of Edinburgh).

In November 2000 the then Scottish Executive Minister for Gaelic, Alasdair Morrison, MSP, announced a new teacher education programme for Gaelic medium primary teachers between the University of Strathclyde and Lews Castle College UHI. There were to be many negotiations over the next three years before the course started, but for the first time Gaelic, and subsequently English initial teacher education, was available in the Highlands and Islands. Over the next nine years (2003–12) 141 teachers successfully completed the University of Strathclyde one-year PGDE; 33 through Gaelic medium and 108 in English medium. The majority of these teachers gained employment locally.

In 2013 the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) was accredited by GTC Scotland to offer a one-year PGDE (Primary) in both English and Gaelic. Twenty students were accepted on to the programme, available in Stornoway, Kirkwall, Elgin and Inverness. In 2016–17 this had grown to 80 students in six UHI partner colleges, from Shetland down to Argyll.

The story behind this development has recently been told by Ian Minty, a retired lecturer who steered UHI’s participation with the University of Strathclyde from 2002, through to UHI becoming a Teacher Education Institute in 2013. He plots the internal tensions between some of the UHI partner colleges, and how the early promise of increased numbers of students enrolling on the Gaelic medium pathway faded in the face of a majority of English monoglot speakers. He plots the political brinkmanship that lay at the heart of the original announcement in 2000 and how key personalities shaped the early Strathclyde (Jordanhill) development. He shows how the UHI partner college staff grew from their FE College origins to be able to offer an ITE programme and how UHI grew its “universityness”.

The paper concludes with some lessons learned; how the demand for more Gaelic medium primary teachers continues to outstrip the supply and how more imaginative and flexible measures are required to prepare teachers able to teach in Gaelic.

The paper is available in the UHI archive. Please email Philippa Currie, the Archivist at philippa.currie@uhi.ac.uk for a copy.

Ag ullachadh thidsearan gu bhith a’ teagasg tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig

Tha Ian Minty ag innse mu leasachadh foghlam thidsear Gàidhlig

 Tron mhòr chuid den 20mh linn, bha aig daoine a bha a’ fuireach air Ghàidhealtachd is anns na h-Eileanan a dhol gu deas no chun an ear-thuath dhan cholaiste ma bha iad airson a bhith nan tidsearan. Ma bha thu comasach air a’ Ghàidhlig a bhruidhinn agus airson prògram tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig a leantainn, b’ e na roghainnean a bha agad a dhol chun na Colaiste a Tuath (a-nis fo sgiath Oilthigh Obar Dheathain), Cnoc Iòrdain (Oilthigh Shrath Chluaidh) agus nas fhaisge air an là an-diugh, Taigh Mhoraidh (Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann).

San t-Samhain 2000 dh’ainmich Alasdair Moireasdan, BPA, a bha aig an àm sin na Mhinistear na Gàidhlig aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba, prògram foghlam thidsear ùr airson tidsearan bun-sgoile tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig eadar Oilthigh Shrath Chluaidh agus Colaiste a’ Chaisteil UHI. Chaidh mòran obrach a dhèanamh thar nan trì bliadhna an dèidh sin mus do thòisich an cùrsa, ach airson a’ chiad uair bha foghlam thidsear Gàidhlig agus an uair sin Beurla, ri fhaotainn air Ghàidhealtachd agus sna h-Eileanan. Thar nan naoi bliadhna an dèidh sin (2003–12) bha cothrom aig 141 tidsear cùrsa PGDE aon-bhliadhna a dhèanamh gu soirbheachail tro Oilthigh Shrath Chluaidh; 33 tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig agus 108 tro mheadhan na Beurla. Bha e comasach dhan mhòr chuid dhiubh sin obair fhaighinn gu h-ionadail.

Ann an 2013 chaidh Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd ’s nan Eilean (UHI) a theisteanachadh le GTC Alba gus PGDE (Bun-sgoil) aon-bhliadhna a thabhann ann am Beurla agus sa Ghàidhlig. Chaidh fichead oileanach a chlàradh air a’ chùrsa a bha ri fhaotainn ann an Steòrnabhagh, Baile na h-Eaglaise, Eilginn agus Inbhir Nis. Ann an 2016–17 bha seo air ruighinn 80 oileanach ann an sia colaistean UHI, bho Shealtainn gu Earra-Ghàidheal.

Tha an sgeula air cùl an leasachaidh seo air a h-innse le Ian Minty, òraidiche a tha air a dhreuchd a leigeil dheth, a stiùir com-pàirteachadh Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd ’s nan Eilean le Oilthigh Shrath Chluaidh bho 2002, suas chun an ama a chaidh UHI a dhèanamh na Institiud Threànadh Thidsear ann an 2013. Tha e ag innse mu na teannachaidhean a bha eadar cuid de na colaistean a bha nan com-pàirtichean ann an UHI, agus mar nach do lean am fàs ann an oileanaich a bha a’ dèanamh an cùrsa tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig an coimeas ris a’ mheudachadh a thàinig air an àireamh oileanaich a bha airson cùrsa na Beurla a dhèanamh. Tha e a’ toirt iomradh air an rùn phoilitigeach a bha air cùl an ainmeachaidh a chaidh a dhèanamh o thùs ann an 2000 agus mar a bha pearsachan sònraichte an lùib a’ chiad leasachaidh an co-bhoinn ri Srath Chluaidh (Cnoc Iòrdain). Tha e a’ comharrachadh mar a thàinig luchd-obrach colaistean UHI air adhart bho bhith aig ìre Colaiste FE gu bhith comasach program ITE a thabhann agus mar a dh’fhàs UHI gu bhith “na fhìor oilthigh”.

Tha am pàipear a’ crìochnachadh le fiosrachadh mu chuid de na leasain a chaidh ionnsachadh; mar a tha an t-iarrtas airson tidsearan bun-sgoile a bhios a’ teagasg tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig fhathast mòran nas motha na tha ri fhaotainn de thidsearan agus mar a tha modhanobrach nas innleachdaich agus nas sùbailte rin iarraidh gus tidsearan ullachadh airson a bhith comasach a bhith a’ teagasg tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig.

Tha am pàipear ri fhaotainn ann an tasglann UHI. Cuir fios air post-dealain airson lethbhreac gu Philippa Currie, an Tasglannaiche aig philippa.currie@uhi.ac.uk

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins teachingscotland@gtcs.org.uk


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