Nature trail goes Gaelic

Pupils at Nether Robertland Primary have been learning about the links between aspects of our landscapes and the Gaelic names from where they originated as part of a new Nature Trail project.

The pupils are currently working towards a John Muir Award, an environmental award scheme focused on wild places which helps people to appreciate and value nature, urban green space and wild landscapes.

Julia Preston, who is the Gaelic Language Officer and 1+2 Development Officer for the Council, previously did a lot of work for the charity Stewarton Woodland Action Trust (SWAT), and decided to ask them to make their Lainshaw Woods nature trail bilingual English/Gaelic, an idea that the Trust welcomed.

The aim was to encourage the local primary schools to do more outdoor education and at the same time, gain an appreciation of the Gaelic language. SWAT were able to fund the first ten information panels which featured some of the flora and fauna visible in the woodlands, along with their Gaelic translations. They then applied for a grant for five more panels from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the principal public body in Scotland responsible for promoting Gaelic development.

The pupils have been learning some basic Gaelic words and phrases as part of the 1+2 Approach – the Scottish initiative which aims to ensure that all pupils have knowledge of two languages before leaving primary school. Four days throughout the school year are dedicated to the Nature Trail project and pupils have been preparing for their outdoor experience by doing research and taking Gaelic lessons.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning, said: “This is the first project of its kind in East Ayrshire, and one that will be so beneficial to the pupils. Being able to incorporate outdoor learning with learning Gaelic will really enhance the educational experience for our young people, while working towards the John Muir Award will help with their literacy, numeracy and general health and wellbeing.”

Photo caption: Councillor Fiona Campbell and Gaelic Language Officer Julia Preston joined pupils including Logan Neil, Eva McAtee, Summer Wilson and Donald MacDonald from P6 in the lesson which included learning some Gaelic words.