Use and learning of the Gaelic language in East Ayrshire took a step forward with Cabinet approval for the Council’s draft Gaelic Language Plan for 2023-28.
Scottish Gaelic is considered an indigenous language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
The new plan is the third of a series of plans developed by the Council in response to the statutory duties of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 which established Bòrd na Gàidhlig to oversee the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland treated with equal respect alongside English and Scots.
As part of the duties Bòrd na Gàidhlig has to produce a National Gaelic Language Plan every five years, and each local authority produces its own Gaelic Language Plan which feeds into the National Plan.
East Ayrshire’s latest draft plan will now be sent to Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The first two plans focused on actions for young people and members of the community with an interest in learning Gaelic and sought to promote a wider interest in Gaelic heritage and culture. They also detailed how the Council would develop Gaelic in the community, education, in the home, the arts, media, heritage, business and tourism.
The new third draft plan takes this development further, using the results of an internal language capacity audit and a full public consultation which were run earlier this year.
The plan focuses on seven priorities
- work with partners and businesses, including East Ayrshire Leisure, to increase both the use and awareness of the Gaelic Language
- establish and maintain a Gaelic Implementation Group with representation from all departments within the Council
- undertake the duty under the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 to promote and support Gaelic Education to ensure the retention of pupils at key transitional phase and increase the numbers enrolling in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) and ensure annual improvement plans are in place to provide standards and quality reporting.
- expand the number of Gaelic-medium qualifications and experiences offered at secondary level
- expand the Gaelic language learning and cultural experiences within Sgoil na Coille Nuaidh
- continue to offer Gaelic Learner Education to all pupils in S1/2 at Kilmarnock Academy and ensure all catchment schools have opportunities to learn about Gaelic language and culture
- devise a strategy to improve services for adult Gaelic learners annually.
The Council’s Gaelic Implementation Group includes representatives from across the Council to help maximise opportunities to promote and encourage use of the language.
Councillor Elaine Cowan, Cabinet member for Lifelong Learning, Education and Skills and Culture, welcomed the cabinet endorsement of the plan saying: “We welcome this next stage in the embedding of Gaelic as an equally respected national language in East Ayrshire.
“While we’ve always had a number of native Gaelic speakers and learners in the area, thanks to the availability of our highly successful Gaelic Medium education service and the wider work of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, there are now many more opportunities for people expressing interest to explore the language, its heritage and culture.
“Working with our partner organisations, increasing the language’s visibility in everyday life, and taking into account the views expressed in our employee survey and public consultation we’re committed to supporting those who want to learn more about our Gaelic culture and heritage.”