E-Sgoil offers schools a digital learning solution to increase the breadth of programmes and pathways on offer to young people as part of Curriculum for Excellence. You are invited to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival at which Angus MacLennan, Headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some primary and secondary pilots that e-Sgoil ran in their first year. Advice will also be available on how e-Sgoil can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic at the secondary stages. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.
By Joan Esson, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for inspection of Gaelic Medium Education
The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from 3-18 Gaelic Medium Education (GME) inspections. You can read the chapter relating to GME on our website.
It was a great privilege to review our inspection findings for GME and evidence how the sector is developing. The approaches that are used in GME are a very effective example of language learning in Scotland. Children learn the language to a high level of fluency which enables them to access learning through Gaelic, while achieving expected attainment levels in all areas of the curriculum.
Overall, inspectors found that most children and young people in GME were making good progress in developing their fluency. By the senior phase, attainment in Gàidhlig as a subject is strong. Interest in the role of Gaelic (Learners) as an additional language, and the development of GME in some areas of Scotland, is growing.
In this blog, I would like to consider three areas that should be given initial consideration in using the QuISE report as part of the improvement journey for GME.
- Being a self-improving GME provision
Education Scotland aims to support practitioners as they build capacity for improvement. The QuISE report presents an important source for practitioners’ use in self-evaluation. The chapters for early learning and childcare, primary and secondary, should be used along with the one on GME. Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education gives a strategic guide to what constitutes high-quality national practice, some of which now forms statutory Guidance. Taken together with self-evaluation frameworks, practitioners have a rich resource to enable an in-depth focus on Gaelic. Senior leaders, along with other practitioners, should take time to use these resources for self-evaluation. In future inspections, we would like to evidence improved leadership of GME, with Gaelic being at the heart of strategic planning and part of continuous improvement.
2. Closing the attainment gap
An important outcome of GME is that children attain equally well, or better, than their peers in English medium education. This gives parents confidence in GME for which we need to have a relentless focus on high-quality attainment and progress. In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see practitioners, and indeed the children and young people themselves, being clearer on their progress and how to improve further. To clarify expectations, teachers assisted us in designing Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig. These need to be used in the joint planning of learning, teaching and assessment; for monitoring and tracking of progress and in the moderation of standards.
At all times, practitioners have an important role in interacting skilfully with children, while modelling good immersion techniques to help children acquire the language. Practitioners’ skill in doing this impacts on children’s fluency. Playroom experiences are threaded together and given direction with a curriculum framework that promotes continuity and progression.
Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapter 7), coupled with Building the Ambition, (particularly chapters 6 and 7), present practitioners with effective pedagogy for early learning in GME. Building the Curriculum 2 details children’s natural disposition “to wonder, to be curious, to pose questions, to experiment, to suggest, to invent and to explain”. In the immersion playroom, practitioners will engage in short periods of activities that they will lead as part of children’s intended learning. At other times, children will be choosing what they play which they may initiate as they follow their interests, or be an experience planned by practitioners.
If we are to close the attainment gap in GME, we need to recognise the early gains from a strong total immersion experience as part of early learning and childcare. For this, children need to hear and absorb very fluent Gaelic across a range of play contexts. Practitioners’ quality and frequent interactions are key drivers in helping children to acquire fluency as they foster learning which is creative, investigative and exploratory.
3. Improving the leadership of the GME curriculum
The QuISE report highlighted that our strong primary GME provisions are clear on the correlation between immersion, fluency and impact on attainment. At the secondary stages, there is still more to do to ensure young people have enough opportunities to learn through Gaelic. We recognise in the QuISE report that there are challenges from shortages of Gaelic-speaking practitioners. However, we ask for more of a solution-focused approach. Our Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapters 9-13) gives strategic direction to the development of the GME secondary curriculum.
In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see much more prominence given to those learning in GME as a group for whom pathways need to be developed. It would be useful to continue to develop a shared understanding of how Curriculum for Excellence, with its emphasis on the totality of learning, may be maximised for GME. Speakers of Gaelic are a key driver in planning the curriculum. Could more of our Gaelic-speaking practitioners in schools be delivering some aspect of the curriculum in Gaelic? Could they, for example, be encouraged to deliver a subject, club, universal support or an opportunity for achievement through Gaelic? The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” chimes with the need to increase the role of partners in the GME curriculum. A good starting point would be for curriculum planners to know who their Gaelic-speaking partners are, and begin to ascertain how they can assist with planning and delivery of learning.
Finally, I would like to invite you to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival which focuses on how technology can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic. e-Sgoil presents a digital solution to delivering the curriculum. The headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some pilots that ran this year. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.
The latest Briefing on Gaelic Education is now available.
Seo fiosrachadh ur:
Education Scotland and SCILT are delighted to announce the winners of the Scientist biography translation competition.
Hannah Wood, Gairloch High School-Gaelic (Learners);
Donald Morrison, Millburn Academy-Literacy and Gàidhlig
Congratulations and well done! Mealaibh ur naidheachd is gur math a rinn sibh!
Thank you to all who took part.
These winning entries are now available on the National Improvement Hub alongside the other biographies. This work will support learners of Gaelic across Scotland.
We have now published the individual chapters form the Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education report on our website, along with the full report. This report gives a review of our inspection findings for the period 2012-2016. It highlights areas of growing strength and key areas for further improvement.
For the first time, we have included a chapter on Gaelic Medium Education (GME) which exemplifies the growth of the sector. This chapter is available at:
The full report may be accessed at:
We would encourage those with responsibility for Gaelic Learner and Medium Education across sectors to engage with the report. In particular, the findings for Gaelic and to build these into improvement planning. Addressing these areas for improvement effectively will make a decisive contribution to achieving the twin aims of excellence and equity for Scottish learners which sits at the heart of the National Improvement Framework. For more information to support improvement, please use our Advice on Gaelic Education.
To keep up to date with Gaelic at Education Scotland, please visit our learning blog for Gaelic Medium Education and Gaelic Learner Education. We also publish Briefings on Gaelic Education for which partners’ contributions are invited.
There is a Literacy Festival for Gaelic in An Lanntair, Stornoway on Wednesday 24th May from 1:30pm to 9:30pm. The programme includes the following Gaelic authors: Donald Meek, Iain F MacLeod and Finlay MacLeod. For more information and to register for this free event, please phone 01851 703020.
Scottish Book Trust runs a monthly 50 Word Fiction contest which welcomes entries in Gaelic, English and Scots. Check out the current prompt and enter the competition.
Streap, is a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate for teachers of 3-18 GME. It presents an opportunity to deepen your understanding of GME, while developing further fluency in the language. The next programme begins on 4 September 2017. This programme is fully-funded by the Scottish Government. For more information, please visit:
The latest Briefing on Gaelic Education is now available.
Seo fiosrachadh ur:
The First Minister’s Reading Challenge supports reading through the medium of Gaelic and English.
The challenges for which you can submit an entry are: GME Reading Journey, School Reading Journey, School and Community Reading Journey, Pupil Reading Journey, School Reading the Most Books, and Pupil Reading the Most Books. You can submit an entry for one of the challenges above or, indeed, all of them! Click here for full guidance on what the different challenges entail.
Please submit your entries for categories before Wednesday 3 May 2017