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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK

UK: Scotland

First Gaelic-only primary school opened

Glasgow City Council has embarked on a new venture

The first Scottish primary school dedicated to Gaelic-only teaching has been opened.

Leslie Anderson visits Scotland's first exclusively Gaelic school
Glasgow Gaelic School, catering for 109 pupils aged from five to 12, has received a £250,000 Scottish Executive grant.

All members of staff, including the school's secretary and janitor, are fluent in the language.

Children will learn all subjects in Gaelic, but will be taught English as a second language from the age of seven.

[ image: Bob Gray:
Bob Gray: "First class facility"
The school will also include a Gaelic-medium nursery unit, making the school the biggest centre for education in the language for youngsters in Scotland.

Councillor Bob Gray, convenor of Glasgow City Council's Education Committee, said: "The new school, opening on the cusp of a new millennium, is an ideal launch-pad from which to take Scottish Gaelic education into an exciting new future.

"We have created a first-class facility in which the Gaelic language can be taught and its traditions nurtured and developed."

Glasgow is the first Scottish authority to open such a school, with the role expected to rapidly expand to the schools' full capacity of 200.

Previously, Glasgow children were able to learn Gaelic at a unit at Sir John Maxwell Primary School in the city.

Major breakthrough

The new school has been hailed as a major breakthrough for those seeking to promote the language, particularly in the lowlands of Scotland where there are fewer speakers.

There are a total of 34 small Gaelic-medium units scattered across Scotland, teaching pupils in the language as part of conventional primary schools, as well as a number of nursery units.

[ image: Upsurge in Gaelic speaking]
Upsurge in Gaelic speaking
Most are in the Highlands, Western Isles and Argyll, reflecting the language's traditional heartland, but some have opened in other parts of Scotland including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

There are estimated to be between 75,000 and 100,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland and there has recently been an upsurge in interest.

Many of the children attending the new school are likely to be learning the language from scratch.

One of the first tasks for the children is to choose a permanent name for the school to replace the current title, which was chosen for the sake of convenience.

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