Edinburgh's troubles over new Gaelic school would worry Angus Og – John McLellan

Ochone, ochone, as Angus Og used to say in the Daily Record cartoon. “Lachie, they can’t find a city centre site for the new Edinburgh Gaelic school.”

The Fettes police station site has been suggested as a possible location for a new Gaelic high school
The Fettes police station site has been suggested as a possible location for a new Gaelic high school

A report to this week’s council education committee made clear the problems facing the plan to create a centrally located Gaelic medium education (GME) secondary school, most basically that none of the possible sites for a stand-alone GME school, as demanded by the SNP in its election manifesto, are available. And this is despite the Scottish Government owning half of them.

But the report also shows the problems are not just finding a site, but include the somewhat obvious lack of trained Gaelic-speaking subject teachers, and the impracticalities of meeting the demand for a “fully immersive” Gaelic learning experience, which seems tantamount to a banning of English.

Without a link to another school, it says, a full curriculum could not be delivered, but as all new schools must have community access, “it would not be possible to ensure all visitors converse in Gaelic”.

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If the aim is to ensure only Gaelic is spoken or read, that smacks of isolation not just education, but funded by all taxpayers while funnelling much-needed resources away from other schools.

There are more than a few figures in Edinburgh Council ─ not the Conservative group which backs educational choice ─ who believe this project is pandering to aspirational parents seeking private-style education at public expense, and as costs rise so too might this need to remain an aspiration.