Parents set for crunch talks over Gaelic school plans

Rachel Guatelli and David sterratt, chairs of Drummond Community High School parent council with other group members. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Rachel Guatelli and David sterratt, chairs of Drummond Community High School parent council with other group members. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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COUNCILLORS say they will hold crunch talks with concerned parents at a city secondary in an attempt to ease tensions over proposals to move the capital’s Gaelic language schooling to the site.

Education bosses have earmarked Drummond Community High as the preferred location for future bilingual education as part of tentative plans to cope with a rise in demand.

But parents and community leaders fear the move could lead to the Bellevue school being “closed to local pupils,” accusing the authority of using the move as a “backdoor” to creating a facility dedicated to Gaelic Medium Education (GME).

They also fear losing out on vital services provided by the school for pupils with additional support needs.

Under the current system, Gaelic stream pupils at the capital’s only GME primary school, Bun Sgoil Taobh na Pairce, based in Bonnington, continue into secondary education at Gillespie’s.

However, with the Gaelic school roll predicted to double in the next four years and Gillespie’s already almost full, education chiefs want the under-capacity Drummond to shoulder the extra intake.

Green spokesperson for education Mary Campbell said the move was necessary in order to “allow Gaelic to develop and thrive,” but admitted she would meet with Drummond parents to hear their concerns.

She added: “We recognise that there is value in these proposals, but we also recognise that many parents have concerns.

“This is why we will be meeting with parents to ensure we take all these issues into account, and look to find the best solutions for the future of Gaelic education.”

David Sterratt, chair of Drummond Parent Council, said he “welcomed” a meeting with councillors, adding: “Under the current proposals Drummond could be full by 2022, but there are no plans for how to deal with this.

“We cannot be expected to agree to a leap in the dark, especially given the school’s role in providing education to students who have disabilities like autistic spectrum disorder, who often require additional strategies around transition.”

“The Green manifesto pledged to ensure that communities are in charge of their own destiny, so we trust the Greens will understand why we cannot agree to the prospect of our school closing to children from the community who don’t speak Gaelic”

The local authority’s education chiefs have previously reassured parents any plans are at “a very early stage,” adding all concerned will have the opportunity to put their points across.