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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Gaelic secondary school planned
Gaelic school sign
It is hoped the school will open next year
Scotland is to have its first dedicated Gaelic secondary school.

The education minister said the 3.5m school, which will be based in Glasgow, was the most significant step forward in Gaelic education for 20 years.

Peter Peacock's comments came as the new Gaelic development agency, Brd na Gidhlig, warned that the language was going through a crucial period.

Mr Peacock also announced a virtual Gaelic learning project so that pupils across the country could learn online.

Speaking at a news conference during Brd na Gidhlig's first national conference in Nairn, Mr Peacock said the new Gaelic secondary school would enable children educated in the language at primary level to further continue with it.

'Build on success'

He said: "Gaelic medium education is a real success story and pupil numbers are up and we have more Gaelic medium classes than ever before.

"Throughout Scotland we have a growing generation of young Gaels who have reaped the benefits of Gaelic medium primary education.

"Our challenge has been how to build on this success and continue to support these pupils as they move into secondary education."

Mr Peacock said backing plans for the dedicated Gaelic secondary school clearly showed the executive's commitment to the future of the language.

We are at a crucial time for our language and culture
Duncan Ferguson
Brd na Gidhlig chairman
It is hoped the school, which is to be redeveloped from an existing unoccupied one, Woodside, in Glasgow's Woodlands Road, will be open in just over a year.

Currently, 34 secondary schools offer Gaelic language classes for fluent speakers and 15 also teach other subjects in Gaelic.

However, provision varies greatly throughout Scotland with some schools offering various subjects in Gaelic, while in others pupils progressing from Gaelic medium primaries only receive Gaelic language.

The new school will initially cater for pre-school children and 5-14 year-olds but will develop year by year to become a full six-year secondary.

Arts boost

Brd na Gidhlig chairman, Duncan Ferguson, said: "We are at a crucial time for our language and culture.

"With the draft Gaelic Language Bill due to be introduced to parliament, we cannot afford to waste this opportunity."

Glasgow City Council's education convener Steven Purcell gave the move a cautious welcome.

Mr Purcell said: "We are pleased with this announcement but now wish to examine the detail of the offer before we are able to finally commit to the project."

The bulk of the funding for the institution will be paid by the executive.

A Gaelic arts development fund worth 400,000 was also announced on Friday.

The fund, provided by Brd na Gidhlig and the Scottish Arts Council, will aim to help develop audiences and skills as well as encouraging showcase projects.

According to the last census, there were 58,000 Gaelic speakers and a further 30,000 people with some level of understanding of the language.




SEE ALSO:
Sign of the times for Highlands
08 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Plans to protect Gaelic
10 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Gaelic first for parents
03 Jun 03  |  Scotland
MSPs approve Gaelic bill
06 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Gael warning over language
04 Sep 02  |  Scotland


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