Forcing Gaelic on our schools is wrong, says MSP
The conflict between a Scottish government desire to offer Gaelic education and a search locally for spending cuts has come under renewed scrutiny.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott has accused the SNP-led authority of forcing the SIC to use a portion of its stretched finances to teach Gaelic in schools – despite a lack of Gaelic tradition in the Northern Isles.
It comes as Scottish Parliament scrutiny of the Education (Scotland) Bill is due to take place at Holyrood today.
Mr Scott, who initially raised concerns last year, fears that providing Gaelic education at the request of parents would become a law that local authorities would have to implement.
Shetland Islands Council face £3 million of cuts caused by the Scottish government budget allocations to local authorities.
There have already been warnings that schools will face further cuts as a result of the move, with suggestions that the prospect of school closures will have to be considered again. Mr Scott says there is no new money for Gaelic, and a nationwide shortage of Gaelic teachers.
“Once again, the Scottish government has refused to recognise that there is no tradition of Gaelic in Shetland. Yet Shetland Islands Council could be left in a position where it is forced to use some of its already stretched budget to fund Gaelic education.
“I know that many parents, teachers and pupils in Shetland will wonder why their government impose an approach to education that would take money away from the needs of schools across the islands.
“It’s time for the Scottish government to recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach to education is not right. Indeed, if the government were ever to look at Shetland’s historical language connections they would find that we have far more ties with Norwegian than Gaelic.
“Our primary school teachers are already helping pupils with languages. Languages for that the next generation need and want to learn. Forcing Gaelic on Shetland is not the right approach.”